1491: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Eight

Title: Love of a Spartan
Author:  AshleyBudrick
Media: Video Game
Topic: HALO
Genre:  Sci-Fi/Romance
URL: No Longer Available Online (but the author is supplying chapters to the Admiral because she’s pretty damn cool)
Critiqued by Admiral Sakai, Gul, and the Arbiter

-WARNING-

This section of the riff contains potential flamebait in the form of brief discussion of military sexual assault. Be sure to keep the comments section civil.

Hello, hello everyone, and welcome back to Love of a Spartan, the long, meandering journey through nothingness that at some point in the distant half-remembered past might actually have had something to do with Halo.

Last time… Private Kilburn took a shower, and that’s about it. Apparently it was supposed to be important that she bumped into the Chief in there, because apparently in her entire service history she’s never had to share bathroom facilities with a male or something, but I’m just glad that there weren’t any lovingly detailed descriptions of Spartan dong to be found. Also, Troy got bashed for being the only actually competent soldier of the lot, but at this point bringing attention to that fact is roughly equivalent to saying that the last chapter had words in it… Oh, and that idiotic Elite got himself spotted in the armory while the Master Chief was polishing his suit, but the chapter cut out before anything could actually happen.

Terrible Troy Counter: 32

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 25

Halight Counter: 9

Chapter Nine (Eight in the story’s own numbering) is called “Feelings”- because the Halo series really needs more of those.”

Chapter Eight

[March 10, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules, Slipspace]

You know, it’s kind of hard to believe that the story has managed to cram all of this nothing into only three days of calendar time. I feel like it’s been going on for decades.

John didn’t feel the least bit at ease in the armory, even after he had scoured the room multiple times. He was reluctant to set down his pistol and retrieve the rag from the floor and continue to clean his MJOLNIR armor, but he did.

That is because the Demon is an imbecile.”

He’s seriously just going to ignore it? Not sound an alarm or ask Kira the AI to scan the section of compartments he’s in or even just go out into the hall and warn the rest of the Marines that there’s probably a big scary Elite with big slicy swords wandering around somewhere onboard the ship?

As he carefully set the weapon down on the table from which he had snatched it, and as he stooped to pick up the rag, his adrenaline was pumping fiercely through him, his heart pounding wildly in his ears and his hands shaking despite his efforts to hold them still.

I find that last bit difficult to believe. The Chief is an excellently-trained sniper, close-quarters combatant, and nearly everything else. He’s able to keep his aim steady in the games even when he is currently being shot– it should take more than one close encounter with an Elite for him to lose control of his claws.”

Paranoia, a little voice in his head was telling him. Perhaps the dramatic change in his schedule – all the time spent out in the field fighting Covenant, changed to an almost casual life for a couple of weeks aboard a cruiser in Slipspace was getting to him.

Go into cryo, the same voice was urging, go into cryo sleep for the rest of this Slipspace jump.

That would be the voice of the audience, begging for the boredom to end.

He would be able to rest, without little things such as noises setting him off and getting him on edge. But, no, he couldn’t go into cryo, he had friends. He had Renee and Amy now; he wasn’t just the anti-social Spartan anymore.

No, now he was also the annoying Spartan, the boring Spartan, the creepy Spartan and the hideously out-of-character Spartan.

John sighed, and rose to his full height, cracked his knuckles, and then turned to face his MJOLNIR armor. His mirrored visor looked coldly back at him, giving him nothing but his own reflection, and for a moment John realized what it must be like for the others he     encountered, for those who didn’t know – what the face beneath the visor looked like, who the person was, who Spartan-117 really was.

And now that we’ve gotten a glimpse, I’d really prefer that he just put the helmet back on.”

Not that it really mattered, John decided, as he stared at his reflection in the visor for a few seconds.

“If it does not matter, why are you still speaking     of it?”

He spotted a smudge of grease in the corner of his nose, which stuck out boldly against his pale skin, but he didn’t bother to wipe it away. He’d only get more on him before the job of cleaning his armor was done.

Cue the porno music?

At this point, it’d be an improvement.”

John dropped his gaze from his reflection; the face of Spartan-117 was nothing magnificent, nothing jaw-dropping.

Oh, good. He’s a pretty ugly guy. I was wondering when the Mary Sue tropes would make an appearance…

As far as he was concerned, he was just another human being, however it was rarely ever that he was treated like so.

As a side note, due to the genetic nature of their augmentations it is something of an open question whether Spartans are actually biologically human- some of the early EU materials actually refer to “humans and Spartans” making up the UNSC forces.

As he began cleaning his armor from the bottom up – he had gotten to the knee-plates before he had been distracted – Renee came to his mind. He pictured her perfectly; he always had a knack for photographic memory.

He realized being treated like a normal human being had been a rare event, until he had met Renee and Amy.

Then it became impossible.”

Although he wasn’t even being close to getting used to it, he had to admit, he liked the normality.

Then he left Capricornia, and everything went downhill.”

He furiously rubbed at a rather large spot of dried Elite blood on the right thigh armor plating; a recent memory came back into his mind. The incident in the shower room; he had walked out of the shower naked, and to his surprise had seen Renee standing there in a mere towel. He remembered the shocked look on her face, and to his own surprise, he laughed.

It was soft and muffled at first, but he realized he was alone and there would be no one to criticize, so he allowed himself to laugh. The boisterous laughter that came from deep down in his chest surprised him. He hadn’t laughed that freely in a long time, and he had to take a couple of seconds to realize it was actually him making the joyous sound.

John-117 is easily amused.

He wiped the smile from his face,

Getting it covered in re-moistened Elite blood in the process…

shook his head, feeling his cheeks burning. This feeling he had right now, warmed him and made him feel happy and almost giddy.

That is because after he had identified the Demon’s location, Zealot ‘Kolsamee sealed the door behind himself and determined how to shut of the armory’s oxygen.”

He also felt foolish as well, for it obviously wasn’t the first time he had been in the showers and had seen his fellow soldiers naked or half naked – or vice versa. Something about this incident in particular – John wasn’t exactly sure what it was – made him have an almost immature reaction.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 26? Do Spartans count?

Being unsure was something John didn’t like; he always wanted to be sure on what was going on, especially when he couldn’t figure out a probable answer himself to the issue. As he continued to clean his armor, he felt an urge building inside of him to go and talk to Dr. Halsey. If anyone could give him an answer or perhaps a suggestion, it would be her. Ever since he had first met her in the playground at his school back on Eridanus II – a little yet bold memory – Dr. Halsey had always struck him as someone wise and knowing, an almost motherly figure to him and his Spartans.

Not sure why he’s telling himself something he already knows, but then again this is the ‘fic that needed to explain to us what the Human-Covenant War was…

She did know a lot; after all she was a doctor and the creator of the Spartan II program. John had faith in her and strongly believed he could possibly find an answer to the unsurely feelings and emotions, which were almost alien to him.

And, I’m sure once you explain the problem, her solution will be relatively painless and have little impact on your long-term combat effectiveness.”

John finished cleaning his armor, tossed the rag on a nearby table, and stepped back to appreciate his work. The green body plates shone almost like mirrors, glinting on the black backdrop of the matte suit beneath. A good job, his suit would be in good condition until     the next conflict with Covenant, where it would get dirtied and bloodied up and have to be cleaned again.

Which, given the exponential decay pattern of the ‘fic’s pacing, will probably occur some time around Chapter 85.

Taking one last suspicious look around the room, John pulled down his sleeves of his uniform and wiped his hands on his pants. He mentally decided that he was going to pay a visit to Dr. Halsey. If she wasn’t tired or busy, he knew she would be more than willing to sit down and talk to him, almost like a mother would a child.

WE GET IT ALREADY.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 27

John made it to the bridge in a fair amount of time, although he walked at a casual pace with his hands in his pockets. When he reached the bridge, however he snapped to the correct posture and walked in, although he felt a little uneasy.

“We have a visitor,” Keira said with a smile from her holographic panel, being the first to see him enter. Thomsen and the other people on the bridge turned to look at John. Thomsen straightened and greeted him with a smile.

“Hello, Master Chief,” he said.

“Sir,” John saluted, “I’m looking for Dr. Halsey, sir. Have you seen her?”

“She’s in the officer’s mess, I do believe,” Thomsen replied, “In the meeting room, to be exact. That’s where she told me she was heading about an hour ago… If it’s important I can call her here to the bridge over the intercom…”

Oh, I thought you were going to call her to the bridge using the ship’s system of signal fires.”

“No, that’s fine, sir,” John said quickly, absentmindedly fiddling with his shirttail with one hand, “It’s not urgent; I’ll find her.”

Wait, why is John’s shirt untucked? Seems like the sort of thing Spartans would make sure to get right, setting an example for the Marines and all.”

Actually, I’m not even sure if he has a separate shirt, much less one with tails- both the Navy uniforms and dress uniforms we see in the games appear to be coverall-type garments without a clearly defined shirt and pants.

“Alright,” Thomsen answered, raising an eyebrow in slight suspicion, having taken note to John’s slight fidgeting. From what he knew of the Spartans, and how well they were trained, surely one of the main things they were taught was not to fidget while in attention. This was odd behavior.

For this ‘fic? Not really.

I’m just glad he’s finally getting called out on it.”

However, he said nothing more as John saluted him, and turned on his heel and left the bridge.

“He seemed… different,” Keira noted observantly, rubbing her chin with her hand, “Not the usual John… even though I’ve not been given the pleasure of knowing him as well as you or Catherine, I can tell there was something on his mind. Didn’t seem as concentrated, don’t you think, Blake?”

Oh, shit. Call ONI, call the Foundation, call everybody! Those Marines’ stupidity is contagious!

She looked to Thomsen, whose eyes were narrowed and his brow wrinkled from thought.

“Hmm.”

That’s all he said before he turned and sat back down in chair and getting back to looking to his computer screen.

Well, that scene certainly needed to be there…

John, his mind whirring, strode into the officer’s mess, and followed the sound of conversation to a nearby door, which led into the meeting room. When he heard Dr. Halsey’s calm yet serious voice, he didn’t think about knocking, instead he barged right in.

Interrupting her confidential progress report to FLEETCOM, embarrassing the entire SPARTAN-II Program, and getting all of his funding pulled.

… as well as letting that Elite get a quick look at the good Doctor’s laptop screen, revealing the location of every Forerunner artifact in the UNSC’s control and moving the activation of the Halo Array ahead by twenty years.”

He realized the moment he stepped across the threshold into the room, and everyone, including Dr. Halsey, all sitting around a long table, turned to look at him. John spotted Troy at the table as well – who was giving him an odd look – and he realized Dr. Halsey was in the middle of a meeting with the ship’s officers.

He froze, feeling at least twelve accusing pairs of eyes on him,

Because apparently the vessel holds only twelve personnel of Junior Lieutenant or higher.”

Makes sense, actually- that’s why their battle strategy is so half-assed.

and was about to excuse himself and leave the room quickly, but Dr. Halsey pushed back her chair and stood, her expression instantly becoming concerned.

“John!” she exclaimed, “Is there something wrong?”

“YES!”

“No, ma’am,” John croaked, feeling stupid, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think to… I just…”

No, you just didn’t think, period.

Dr. Halsey looked at him in silence.

“I can leave, I’ll come back…” John turned to leave.

“No, John,” Dr. Halsey said quickly,

Please. Never come back.”

“We were finishing up the meeting anyway. Stay,” she turned to the officers seated around the table, “You’re dismissed, if there’s anything else I think of I’ll call you back this evening at the latest.”

John corrected himself to stand at proper attention as he watched the officers push back their chairs and file out of the room. Troy, who was one of the last to leave, had a mocking smile on his face.

“Another bedroom not good enough for you, Sparty?” he grinned.

“Probably. At the rate the ‘fic is going, it is entirely possible he is here to ask that the hangar deck be cleared and planted with reeds so that he can set up his own personal hunting lodge.”

John didn’t say a word, but the two men just exchanged daring glares as they passed abreast of each other. Troy’s arrogance was overwhelming to John, although he didn’t let it intimidate him – instead he allowed it to humor him. John felt like chuckling, but he kept it inside – he had already done enough in the past five minutes that was out of line.

“Hmm.”

he had already done enough in the past five chapters that was out of line.

Much better.”

The last remaining officer left the room, and except for the hiss of the doors closing behind him, the room was deathly quiet for a few moments. Dr. Halsey, who was dressed in her civilian clothes, a simple blouse and slacks,

Dr. Halsey doesn’t really have non-civilian clothes- she’s a civilian specialist with no actual military service history- so I’m not really sure why AB bothered to specify this.

looked to the door then her eyes swept up to meet John’s.

“What on earth is wrong?” she said quietly, walking around the table to be closer to John, “I’ve known you since were six years old,

And yet still feel compelled to exposit that fact for some reason.”

Although the poor woman does seem to have accidentally a word…

and I know when something’s on your mind. I don’t recall ever seeing you this way before. Not that I’m perturbed at your barging in, I’m just a little concerned. You must have something urgent to tell me if you seek me out in such a way.”

“Ma’am,” John began, clearing his throat, but Dr. Halsey interrupted him.

“Forget the formalities, John,” she sighed, sitting in a chair. She looked up to him, and gestured to the chair next to her, “Sit.”

John nodded, and walked over to the chair in two big strides and sat down. He looked at her, and she leaned back in her chair, picking up a pen from the table and fiddling with it, twirling it in her fingers.

“Now, spill it, to put bluntly,” Dr. Halsey said with a huff, “Something’s on your mind, and I’m glad you feel you can confide in me to be someone in which you can speak.”

‘Well that sentence certainly went… somewhere…”

“I… well, I… what I’m feeling,” John folded his hands on his lap, gazing across the room for a moment, like something in the sparsely decorated room would make saying this easier. He couldn’t find such object and he looked back to Dr. Halsey’s friendly eyes, “I’ve never… I don’t know what it is.”

I believe the human civilian term for it is… a ‘boner’?”

“Describe this feeling,” she replied calmly, “Take your time.”

You know, I’m becoming increasingly unsure why Dr. Halsey is actually in this ‘fic. I mean, I suppose it’s logically plausible that she’s just being transported from one project to another and not actually working on anything at the moment… but this is just such an enormous, flagrant waste of a character.

The UNSC doesn’t employ Doctor Catherine Elizabeth Halsey to play therapist to the Spartans or do odd jobs in the infirmary. She’s intimately connected with the SPARTAN-II program, yes, but also with the UNSC’s understanding of the Halo Array, the Ark, the Forerunner language, the Portals, and all sorts of other super, super important stuff. It is doing her a disservice to say that her innovations in the SPARTAN-II program singlehandedly saved the UNSC- her work in creating Cortana’s next-gen artificial     intelligence and unraveling the mystery of the Halo Array saved the entire galaxy.

As a result, when she appears in a story Halo-savvy readers are going to expect Big Things to happen, but so far all she’s done is make some wobbly observations about the behavior of the Covenant and chat up the main cast. It’s like bringing Alan Turing into your WWII alternate-history epic and having him do nothing but send telegrams, or writing a Halo ‘fic featuring the Master Chief where 90% of the time he isn’t even holding a weapon.

Oh. Right.

“I suppose I should tell you… from the beginning,” John bit his lip thoughtfully, “There are these two Privates, Renee Kilburn,     and Amy Smythe. Renee…

… and they’re really, really obnoxious…”

– I call both of them by their first names – she was the one with the fractured rib…”

“Ah yes,” Dr. Halsey nodded, “And the friend of hers was Amy?”

“Yes,” John replied, “Well you see… they treat me differently, they treat me like you do. Like I’m like everybody else, like I’m not a Spartan.

“Proving, once again, that they have no sense of respect for their superiors.”

Like I’m one of them, so to say and I never had made friendships with Marines; In some ways, I’m closer to them than I am to my fellow Spartans.”

Well, you’re definitely sinking down to their level in terms of IQ

Dr. Halsey nodded in interest.

“Yes…” she said quietly.

“And, it’s just… different,” John said, “I don’t really know how to explain it, but… and this morning… I was in the showers, and when I got out, Renee was there… and it was an embarrassing experience, more towards her than I, in fact it didn’t really bother me that much, until I was alone and I started thinking about it. I feel… so weird, whenever I think about her… I… don’t…” John trailed off and dropped his head into hands; “This is so odd, I don’t even know…”

See “boner”, above.

he sighed deeply, and then looked back up to Dr. Halsey, “I was hoping you could help me.”

He was thrown off a little when he saw Dr. Halsey was smiling.

“You don’t need to explain anymore,” she told him, “It’s quite apparent what’s going on.”

You are simply being taken over by a Flood Angst Form.

“It is?” John asked, cocking an eyebrow, “What is it? Is it normal?”

NO.

“Perfectly normal,” Dr. Halsey smiled fully, and she reached out and took John’s large calloused hands in her small, bony ones, “Tell me, does your heart flutter whenever you see her?

Well that’s a rather un-Halseyish thing to say! She’s usually pretty clinical, and not exactly prone to reciting what sound like lead-ins to a musical number.

Do you feel happy, content, when around her? Embarrassed, even?”

“Yes,” John looked down to her hands holding his, and he gently pulled his hands back and folded them on his lap. He sighed, furrowing his brows, “How is that normal? I’ve never felt it before, how could it be normal?”

“You’re twenty-four years of age, now aren’t you?” Dr. Halsey asked rhetorically, “You’re a handsome young man, and what you’re experiencing is perfectly normal. Everyone, almost everyone, at least, experiences it at least once in their lives. For some people, the right person just has to come along.

For others, the right Elite

“… what?”

You’re in love.”

“Love?” John echoed, letting his face muscles relax and his face contorted into a natural confused expression, “That’s what it is?”

Not really; it’s a massive oversimplification.

“Mhm,” Dr. Halsey smiled, “You’ve loved before, just in a different way. You loved your parents and family when you were little… but you forgot that emotion as you underwent training. But this kind of love is a different love from how you’d love your family.

I would hope so…

This love can happen at any time, and sometimes it can be confusing, as you are currently confused.

No, that’s just the utter lack of any sort of narrative structure.”

But, it’s perfectly normal.”

“I know what that kind of love is,” John nodded, “I’ve heard the marines a lot, talking about their girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, children. I know what love is, well the definition at least. I just never thought I’d feel it.”

“Private Kilburn is a pretty girl,” Dr. Halsey replied, “And seems to be smart, kind, and obviously brave to be in the UNSC.”

Actually, the good doctor is oh-for-three on that count, but whatever.

“And presumably she means to be in the UNSCMC. Since she’s automatically a part of the UNSC just as long as she doesn’t become an Insurrectionist.”

“What do I do? I don’t normally ask for directions, but this is a field I’m not experienced in… so to say.”

Just go down to the barracks and ask Private Tucker if you can borrow one of his magazines.

“There are no real directions. Your heart will tell you what to do; it’s kind of an instinct, John, so just take it day by day.”

John nodded.

Oh, good. I was worried he was going to start taking advice from his liver.”

“Thank you, Dr. Halsey,” he said quietly.

“Anytime, John.”

John got to his feet, and he saluted her, and she returned his salute sloppily just for fun, with a smile. She rarely saluted.

“Oh, and John,” she said just about as he was to leave. He turned around to face her curiously. Her expression hardened, “Love, as you may already know, is an awfully powerful emotion. I’m not saying that this will necessarily happen to you, but love can occasionally cloud one’s mind.

Well, that’s assuming he has anything left to cloud.”

Remember your place. You can’t afford to let your mind be on anything else but the battle when you’re out on the field. If you’re not careful, it could cost you.”

John narrowed his eyes, finding it hard to believe that an emotion could affect him, could possibly get him killed during battle, but he gave a nod of his head.

“I will keep that in mind,” he answered.

Sure he will.

John went from there to the weight room, his mind busier than it had been before he had gone to see Dr. Halsey. Her words echoed in his head, repeating themselves. He found it hard to believe, but that he, of all people, was in love.

On his way down the hallway, he had laughed to himself a couple of times, finding it quite difficult to hold back smiles or the occasional chuckle.

Ok, who slipped the Master Chief pot brownies?

Now that he had figured out what this strange feeling was, it kind of relieved him.

However, in a way, he felt kind of lost, as well.

So do we, pal. So do we.

He monologues on this point for a while longer, then finally makes it to the ship’s gym… and who should he encounter there but the meritorious Lieutenant Fisher?”

“Lieutenant,” John said, raising an eyebrow, watching as Troy’s accusing eyes followed his face. John folded his arms on his chest, glowering down upon him. Something about Troy all of a sudden got on his nerves, his arrogant expression, perhaps. He felt like taking him and firing him through a wall, although of course, he would never do it. If he wanted to, he could take Troy and tie him into a knot without even breaking a sweat.

Wow.

Troy’s trying to be friendly, which he is under no obligation to do, and the Chief is still fantasizing about getting non-Euclidean on his ass.

I think this might be a new low.

Terrible Troy Counter: 33

“Did you get yet another room?” Troy asked, “The bed not comfortable enough this time, or what?”

“No,” John snapped, “Last time I checked, my business with Dr. Halsey is in fact mine, not to mention classified.”

How is his birds-and-bees talk classified?

I’m sure what was classified was the meeting he interrupted…”

“Watch that tone, John,” Troy snapped, mockingly using his name, “You’re enlisted, and last time I checked, I’m an officer. I have the right to put enlisted personnel in their place, and I didn’t quite like the way you just spoke to me. I’m actually surprised, you’re usually respectful. Instead, you didn’t insert even one sir into that sentence.”

“Don’t you have something better to do, sir?”

Terrible Troy Counter: Well, I could try to whip Smythe and Kilburn back into shape, but going hand-to-hand with a Spartan would be much less painful…

Blah blah blah, Troy calls the Chief out on his behavior, the Chief threatens to kill him [!] and turns to walk away, Troy reaches out to stop him and gets shoved back for his trouble. Troy makes it abundantly clear that he won’t stand for this sort of nonsense and really quite nicely takes the Chief down a peg or three:

“Don’t shove me,” Troy snapped back quickly, although the wildness in John’s eyes made him slightly frightened. John could read it all over his face – but it was soon masked by a hardened expression, “Just because you’re a Spartan you think you rule the roost, buddy, but let me tell you something; I make no exceptions for any seven feet tall, armor-clad bunch o’ freaks, yourself included.”

The Chief responds to this by fantasizing about yet for abuse for the poor man, which “gave [him] a satisfaction”.

What concerns me is that there are multiple options for what that could be a typo of.”

“You know what you are. You may have all the medals Master Chief, but personally, I think medals should be awarded to Marines, the ones who can die out in the battle field, the ones without the armor to save their asses from plasma. You’re only good at what you do     because you are mutated.”

“Augmented.” John’s voice carried a deadly tone.

“Same difference,” Troy scoffed,

GOD. DAMN.

The Chief responds to Troy’s rousing oratory with more threats of violence, and eventually just decides to grab the poor man and start beating him. I am simply left wondering if this devolution into John and the Dragon Rider characterization is supposed to be romantic, or… what, exactly.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 34

He let Troy go, stepping back from him, panting from anger. John realized he had just assaulted a higher ranking officer, and also realized that the excuse that Troy touched him wouldn’t do him much good.

Not outside of kindergarten, anyway.

Mommy’s Little Marines Counter: 28

The Lieutenant sat up slightly, wiping at the dirt on his uniform, looking bewildered as John rose to his full height.

Wait, how did he get dirt on himself? Do the crew not clean the gym? Or is the Chief himself really just that filthy?

At a loss for words, Troy staggered to his feet, never once taking his eyes off John. For a long moment, there was dead silence as the two men just stared at each other.

John suddenly caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and whipped around to see Renee, looking absolutely horrified, standing in the entrance to the gym. His heart fluttered, and realized that she had watched what just happened.

Good. Maybe now she’ll realize he’d make for a terrible mate.”

She took a couple steps forward, inching closer like she was afraid. She glanced from Troy, then to John. He tried to find words, but his mouth opened and closed with not a sound. He looked to Troy, who still had nothing in his eyes but malice for him.

“I have a witness!” Troy shouted, his voice suddenly coming back to him, echoing through the large room. He gave an uncertain look to John before turning to Renee, “Did you see that? He attacked me! He – he threatened to kill me!”

“That he very much did. Now you should bring your concerns to the Shipmaster and have him put down before he can cause any more trouble.”

There was a long beat of silence once more, as Renee looked at Troy, over to John, then back again. It was hard to read her face.

“I saw,” she nodded, her voice small. She watched as a smile started to come to Troy’s face, a look of relief, but she quickly shot it down, “I saw you provoked him, Lieutenant.”

No.

God FUCKING dammit this woman is an idiot!

Terrible Troy Counter: 35

Mommie’s Little Marines Counter: 29

“Renee, I was imply exercising my authority! Then he goes apeshit and threatens to what, what was it, John?” he turned to glare at him, “Crush me? Break every bone in my body?

That was about the size of it, yes.”

You’re not suitable to be with normal people, and I’ll see to it that -”

“Troy!”

“–you get put in cryo for the rest–”

‘Why bother with cryo?”

*The Arbiter draws both plasma rifles, and Sakai begins charging the Tau Cannon*

“We’ve got the firing squad set up right here.”

Troy!” Renee raised her voice, it came out sharp, and this surprised the Lieutenant and John alike. After a moment of silence, she spoke again with regained composure: a soft, calm voice; matter-of-fact, “He acted out because you instigated him.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 36. And that’s not even the right word.

“Who have you known longer?” Troy seemed bewildered that she wouldn’t take his side, “Me, or Spartan here? You have the right to believe me; you can trust me. He attacked me! If you hadn’t come, God knows what he would have done to me!”

“It’s interesting how you change when you want me to act in your favor,” Renee said coldly, “Besides; I watched it with my own eyes. I know who did what.”

Yes. You saw Lieutenant Fisher and the Spartan get into an argument over the latter’s gross insubordination, then saw the Spartan suddenly attack him. I’m not sure why this is so complicated!”

Blah blah blah, they all stare at each other for a while, then Troy kisses Renee [?!] and walks out.

Terrible Troy Counter: I’m just as confused as you are…

I think this is the first time in the story that he’s actually done anything demonstrably bad. I mean, yeah, kissing a direct subordinate is definitely not appropriate behavior for an officer, but… his doing so comes so far out of left field that it’s difficult to even process as an intentional action.

Renee watched him go before turning around and shaking her head. Taking a couple of steps, she dropped onto one of the benches and let her head fall into her hands.

“What an asshole,” she breathed, raking her fingers through her hair.

Who, the Chief?

Definitely.

Terrible Troy Counter: 37

John watched her from afar, at first not sure what to do. Now that he knew that what he felt towards her was love, he couldn’t help but feel a little more awkward than usual. He felt his anger was still strong – it had spiked when he watched Troy kiss her – but looking at her made him calm down. She did something to him; there was no doubt about it.

Oh, she’s done something to him, all right- she’s warped him unrecognizeably out of character!”

Renee was busy wiping her cheek with her sleeve disgustedly when John decided to sit down beside her. The both of them just sat there for a while, not saying anything.

John decided to start the conversation this time.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” he said.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that.”

“But are you sorry we had to read it?”

She looked up at him, “If you get in any trouble over this, you have a witness to back you up at least.”

“I can handle it,” John sighed, “Just like I do everything else.

By killing people…”

I… didn’t mean to do what I did, I just got angry. Lucky I hadn’t used my strength on him, or my threats would have been a reality.”

“You can actually do those things?” Renee asked quietly.

“Easily,” John nodded, “I know from experiences. I killed my first human when I was fourteen.”

“Fourteen?” Renee echoed, looking bewildered, “Just a kid?”

“Just shortly after I received the augmentations,” John answered, resting his arms on his knees, “I broke their bones like they were toothpicks. I have to be careful, you know, whenever I’m around people like you.”

Halight Counter: 10

Renee bit her lip.

“It’s frightening, really, to think someone can be that strong,” she said, “But… I guess you have to be.”

“Hmm.”

“What started that fight? I came in when insults were already flying.”

“Oh, just the Chief being a bloodthirsty psychotic… as usual.”

“I went to go talk to Dr. Halsey,” John said slowly, feeling embarrassed when he met her gaze, “About… something. Troy had been there when I arrived, and when I came here afterwards he started on me, something about bedrooms…”

“He’s crazy,” she sighed.

“I’m starting to believe that.”

No, he is now officially the only sane character left!

Terrible Troy Counter: 38

“You look upset. Don’t let him get to you.”

“I’m not,” John said with a big sigh, and he turned to look at her, “It’s something else. Maybe you can relate.” He paused for a moment, and then continued, “Did you ever feel something, that at first, you had no idea what it was? Then, when you found out, you walked away with not much more relief, walked away feeling unsure about what to do?”

Every time I have to read a chapter of Love of a Spartan, yeah.

Renee looked thoughtful at first, finding herself somewhat taken aback by John’s words. She didn’t expect someone like him to come out about something like that, especially about feeling something, feeling an emotion, since he always appeared so emotionless and controlled.

“Yes,” she answered after a while, “Matter of fact, yes I did. I felt it about…”

“Love,” they said at the same time, and instantly Renee’s cheeks grew red, and her eyes met his.

“Exactly,” she said quietly, her heart pounding.

Ick.

They looked at each other for a while, not saying anything, although both of their minds were buzzing with thoughts.

“I’m…” John started, his expression looking almost painful, “I…”

Just say it: you’re a moron.

Renee sat there, unmoving, feeling butterflies in her stomach. She wanted to look away, down at her feet, perhaps, but something was keeping her eyes locked with his. John bit his lip, furrowed his brows, then he let out a sigh.

“Don’t shove me off the bench,” he said very quickly.

And with that, in a lightning fast movement, his lips were over hers.

… ew.

“Also, just because John-117 is not her direct superior does not make his kissing her any less of a violation of UNSC Navy regulations regarding sexual harassment.”

Halight Counter: 11

Renee instantly felt lightheaded, and felt like she was going to fall off the bench. But, as quickly as it happened, John pulled back, looked at her for a moment, seeing her shocked expression.

He got up, his face once again becoming expressionless.

“Sorry,” he muttered, heading for the nearest exit.

Oh, you’d better be sorry…

Renee, whose mouth was hanging open, whipped around, and saw him leaving. She shot up off the bench, and her lips seemed to move and her voice to speak without even having to think about it.

“John, wait!” she called, feeling overwhelmed.

But he had already left the room.

And good riddance.”

And that’s the end of Chapter 9.

Now, to my knowledge nobody at the Library has done anything like this before, but I’ve thought long and hard about this, and decided that the best thing to do would be to skip Chapter 10 in its entirety. Not because there’s anything particularly objectionable about it, but simply because it’s a complete no-op: the only new ideas introduced in it whatsoever get repeated at the beginning of Chapter 11, and even those are pretty thin on the ground in what is otherwise basically just a rehash of Renee and John talking about his assault on Troy from the end of this chapter and ‘Kolsamee’s mandible-twirling from the last chapter. Since I’ve already pretty much reached my limit of this nonsense, I think it’s best just to spare you an additional week of NOTHING AT ALL HAPPENING, and just pick out some nice crappypasta for the next guest slot. Good day, and have a pleasant tomorrow.

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48 Comments on “1491: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Eight”

  1. BatJamags says:

    This section of the riff contains potential flamebait in the form of brief discussion of military sexual assault. Be sure to keep the comments section civil.

    I think that keeping the comment section civil is dumb, so therefore you’re a communist and/or a fascist!

    GoodJamags: *Facepalm*

  2. BatJamags says:

    You know, it’s kind of hard to believe that the story has managed to cram all of this nothing into only three days of calendar time. I feel like it’s been going on for decades.

    Three days?! I was under the impression this took place over the course of several weeks!

    Which is mostly because I haven’t been paying attention to the scene tags.

  3. BatJamags says:

    Although he wasn’t even being close to getting used to it,

    *Retches*

  4. BatJamags says:

    “Oh, I thought you were going to call her to the bridge using the ship’s system of signal fires.

    *Meanwhile, in Rohan the officer’s mess*

    Halsey: The bridge calls for aid!

  5. BatJamags says:

    he had already done enough in the past five minutes that was out of line.

    “Hmm.”

    he had already done enough in the past five chapters that was out of line.

    “Much better.”

    Hmm.

    he had already done enough in the past eight chapters that was out of line.

    GoodJamags: Much better.

  6. BatJamags says:

    writing a Halo ‘fic featuring the Master Chief where 90% of the time he isn’t even holding a weapon.

    Well, I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

  7. BatJamags says:

    “And presumably she means to be in the UNSCMC. Since she’s automatically a part of the UNSC just as long as she doesn’t become an Insurrectionist.”

    Actually, the UNSC is the military, exploratory, and scientific branch of the Unified Earth Government:

    http://www.halopedia.org/Unified_Earth_Government

    So, I’m not sure whether AB did the research here or got it right on accident, but technically, the UNSC is the military. Of course, they’ve also got a lot of scientists who have never carried a gun in their lives, but they are military.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Huh. I thought I remembered one of the books mentioning that the UEG got dissolved and supplanted by the UNSC at some point, but I guess I’m just imagining things.

      • BatJamags says:

        Maybe it was retconned? I just vaguely recalled the UNSC being the military arm of some other organization and checked the wiki to make sure. I might’ve missed something.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Well if it’s not even mentioned on the wiki then it probably didn’t actually happen.

      • BatJamags says:

        Oh, derp, it’s right here:

        During the Human-Covenant War the UNSC assumed the governing function of the UEG in the face of possible extinction from the overwhelming Covenant threat.[9][7][10] The United Nations Space Command ceased functioning as a governing body following the end of hostilities with the now dissolved, Hierarch-led Covenant; transfer of power back to the civilian authority of the UEG occured on January 8, 2553, although no other notable change in the UNSC’s political depth within colonial politics was ceded.

        So they weren’t dissolved, just temporarily replaced. Given that this takes place during the Human-Covenant War, you were actually right in the first place, the UNSC was all of the non-insurrectionists.

      • Cain: Although, the human government was still called the UEG, even if it had no powers, if I remember correctly. Just because the military governs everything temporarily doesn’t mean that name of the nation changes.

  8. BatJamags says:

    “What do I do? I don’t normally ask for directions, but this is a field I’m not experienced in… so to say.”

    Bow chicka-

    Just go down to the barracks and ask Private Tucker if you can borrow one of his magazines.

    Oh.

  9. BatJamags says:

    “Don’t you have something better to do, sir?”

    He was in the gym first. You decided to confront him.

  10. BatJamags says:

    “gave [him] a satisfaction”.

    *Tilts head to the side*

    Bow… chicka… bow… wow?

  11. BatJamags says:

    The Chief responds to Troy’s rousing oratory with more threats of violence, and eventually just decides to grab the poor man and start beating him.

    HOLY SHIT! That is not OK! This isn’t even a military discipline thing, he just assaulted someone for not liking him.

  12. BatJamags says:

    His heart fluttered, and realized that she had watched what just happened.

    *Headdesk*

    I sense contrived drama incoming. God, romance stories are so predictable.

  13. BatJamags says:

    then Troy kisses Renee [?!]

    *Sigh*

    1: Flagrant abuse of authority

    2: Out of fucking nowhere

    3: Inconsistent with prior characterization

    4: Knowing the fics that end up on the Library, probably going to be trivialized and glossed over, right?

    • BatJamags says:

      And with that, in a lightning fast movement, his lips were over hers.

      *Sigh*

      1: Flagrant abuse of authority

      2: Out of fucking nowhere, as far as Renee is concerned

      3: Sadly consistent with prior characterization

      4: And because the author wants this pairing to happen, I know it’s going to be trivialized and glossed over.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      This happens again much later on, also right the fuck out of nowhere, and since afterward Troy doesn’t even seem to be aware he did it, I actually ended up concluding that he’s suffering from some sort of undiagnosed brain injury that causes him to take these actions completely involuntarily, like a full-body version of anarchic hand syndrome.

  14. FloodSporgir says:

    moving the activation of the Halo Array ahead by twenty years

    Would this really be a bad thing at this point?

  15. IfYouGiveAMouseACheeseBorgir says:

    At the rate the ‘fic is going, it is entirely possible he is here to ask that the hangar deck be cleared and planted with reeds so that he can set up his own personal hunting lodge.

    Don’t forget about the big heart-shaped bed with rose petals sprinkled over it

    If you give him that eventually he’ll also want the armory and interrogation facilities relocated into his basement

    …so he can, yknow, clean his armor more easily

  16. MAGMAHOTCUMLOUDBORGIREXPANDDONG says:

    If you hadn’t come, God knows what he would have done to me

    Is uh

    There anyone around here who wants to say something ’bout this…

  17. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    Sakai, I am curious actually

    You seem to have a particularly strong distaste for the amount of ‘nothing’ happening in the story- might I ask exactly… what you tend to classify as ‘nothing’? Like I obviously get that you absolutely loathe the focus of what’s going on, but it just feels a little unfair to casually dock a story that actually takes the time to… y’know, at least actively acknowledge that especially in a space-warfare setting there’s pretty sizeably long transit times and that a lotta drama/internal/interpersonal struggles ought to occur

    I get so fucking sick of stories that just kind of jump from one place to another and write off the in between as ‘business as usual, thus the reader need not see it’- so much wasted in terms of potential digging into whatever sort of strange routines or thought processes the characters might partake in to kinda cope with the chaos

    again, I won’t dispute the actual content of Love of a Spartan in this regard, but I definitely feel like there’s something good about at least the way they frame the on-ship segments as very ‘routine’, even if it happens to come off really exaggerated

    I remember admiring the story a lot when I was younger cuz of little details like that, I know there was a bit on Reach a little later (which I’m sure you’re absolutely thrilled for :P)

    honestly I personally get a little conscious of it everytime you so vehemently rail on it, cuz I’m writing a story right now where I spent something like the first 10 chapters just having the main characters glumly and blankly making their way through a foreign war-torn country with absolutely no real action lol

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Looking back, I do think it’s not quite right to say that these sections are filled with nothing so much as they run in circles. Things do happen in them, it’s just that basically the same things happen over and over. That’s why I have a problem classifying what’s going on as character development- everyone seems to learn basically the same lessons multiple times, and then repeat the same mistakes that got them into those situations. This is… I’d say Iteration Two of the “Chief realizes he loves Renee” arc, and the next chapter contained Iteration Three. That one does actually start to move forward (or rather backward) in the next couple of chapters, but the whole “Renee cuts off her relationship with Troy” arc goes through like four more loops, it’s insane.

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        Ah, yeah, I remember what you mean with the Troy thing- I seem to recall even around halfway through the story and possibly even like 3/4 of the way in they were still going back and forth on it. Kinda became a nested loop with how the whole back and forth thing started dragging the Chief into it iirc

        I’m not really one to criticize repetition though I think haha

        honestly it’s still almost kinda… scary to take certain steps in moving a character along

        sometimes it’s more comfortable to just kinda try and keep the status quo, cuz taking leaps that are too sudden or at least feel a bit too sudden always feels like it’s edging into shark jump territory

        like even when you’ve got it all laid out, there’s still the matter of putting it down and stringing together everything you’ve done that always feels really weird, it almost feels like writing an essay in a weird sense

        n then you just keep going over the same routines over and over trying make more ‘supporting details’ or ‘key points’ or w/e and then you hit O(2^n) looping I guess? idk, I dunno much about the mechanics behind it all tbh, but it’s largely been my personal experience when it comes to this sorta thing

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      I think another problem is my belief that these character-development sections could be done much more compactly and efficiently. Palaven’s Dogs does almost all of its character development in the “Interlogue” sections at the end of each chapter, which are essentially non-narrative and almost pure dialogue- as a result, they rarely exceed a few pages when the chapters themselves are ten or twenty. Here, we don’t just get the dialogue, but also pretty much every moment of the characters’ daily routines as they have character development. As a recovering purple-prose author, I think writing as as much about omitting unnecessary detail as it is including necessary elements.

      • TacoMagic says:

        I think writing as as much about omitting unnecessary detail as it is including necessary elements.

        Truer words.

        I attended a writer’s workshop years ago and somebody asked the panelist what the hardest part of writing a novel was, and the author’s reply was, “The hardest part is removing the great amount of stuff that I, as the creator, absolutely love but which is otherwise fluffy word filling that doesn’t accomplish anything truly interesting or useful within the context of the story. The second hardest part is recognizing the beloved fluff for what it is; that’s why I have an editor.”

    • TacoMagic says:

      For me, the problem with “nothing” is that it is usually long-winded. “Going nowhere slowly,” is how I usually explain it. Large amounts of nothing often destroy any kind of pacing or tension in a story by bogging it down by repetitively exploring minutia that, ultimately, don’t add much to the work.

      It’s fine if something is meaningfully slow. Meaningfully slow can be used to work in character building, reflection, or to provide a commentary on something that the author wants the audience to take their time thinking about. But when those moments are done, the story needs to move on.

      In the case of this fic, the story should have moved on after two chapters of daily life on the ship. We’ve seen the daily life and we’ve seen the interpersonal problems between the cast. At this point, the fic is just dredging through those established points looking for little nuggets that could more organically emerge with something else more interesting going on than the daily life on the ship, which we’ve already seen in maddening detail.

      So “nothing” isn’t always just about slow pacing or including the mundane, both of which can serve a purpose, but rather it’s about the inability to move on from those things once they’ve been explored.

  18. TacoMagic says:

    He found it hard to believe, but that he, of all people, was in love.

    I’m still not really sure why authors feel so compelled to point out how far-fetched their plot is.

  19. "Lyle" says:

    As he began cleaning his armor from the bottom up

    *facepalm*

    You always clean from the top down. Otherwise anything you brush/wash from the top is going to dust/dribble down onto the area you just fucking cleaned. This must be why Master Chief normally has technicians that do this for him; he has no idea how to handle every-day tasks.

  20. "Lyle" says:

    “Oh, I thought you were going to call her to the bridge using the ship’s system of signal fires.”

    Nonsense! Everyone knows the Keira uses semaphore.

  21. "Lyle" says:

    “Yes. You saw Lieutenant Fisher and the Spartan get into an argument over the latter’s gross insubordination, then saw the Spartan suddenly attack him. I’m not sure why this is so complicated!”

    Yes, as did the surveillance cameras that I’m pretty sure are set up all over the fucking ship. I find it really hard to believe that a civilization with advanced space travel capabilities wouldn’t stick cameras in all the hallways and public-use areas, such as the cafeteria and gym.


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