1528: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Ten (Eleven), Part TwoPosted: September 11, 2016
Hello hello, all you humans! I return with yet more of Love of a Spartan‘s soporific silliness. Last time John-117 completed his transformation into a psychotic dudebro, grabbing Renee Kilburn and starting a horrifying makeout process in the middle of a public hallway. Mercifully, they got interrupted by none other than the illustrious Troy Fisher, who gave them a good stern talking-to and called the entire incident for what it was. And, at that point, I gave everybody a long PSA on how not to do romantic stuff, and ran out of typing space. And yes, the chapters are getting longer.
Terrible Troy Counter: 50
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 38
Halight Counter: 15
“We therefore return to Chapter Eleven (“Renee and John”) already in progress:”
On the bridge. Dr. Halsey was busily typing away on her laptop, and every once and a while, mentioning something to Thomsen or Keira.
Huh. Initially I thought Halsey was just onboard the Hercules in order to get from one project to another, but now it looks like she’s actually supposed to have been doing something this entire time, and I for one am intensely curious as to what it is. Given the tendency of Dr. Halsey’s science projects to melt down, blow up, achieve self-awareness, or replicate uncontrollably, it’s bound to be more interesting than this romance nonsense.
Thomsen was drifting in and out of consciousness, a couple of times he even got to snoring,
“Well that’s not very professional…”
I guess with his entire crew acting like horny pre-teens, Thomsen is feeling compelled to try out the “Oblivious 50s Dad” stereotype
but however, Keira would always wake him with her voice whenever she’d chirp something to Dr. Halsey.
She’s an AI. What else would she wake him up with?
“I don’t know, I for one was hoping for the ship’s fire-suppression system, or the main MAC gun.”
So far, it had been a fairly dull day. Aside from having the incident with Lieutenant Fisher and John, things were moving by pretty slowly.
Boy have you got that right.
That’s the way they seemed to go whenever they were in Slipspace, not that days could be accurately counted to exact hours, anyway.
Ok, yes, ships in Slipspace occasionally do discover that time elapsed in the universe outside doesn’t synch up with the amount of time they spent in transit from their own perspective, but within those reference frames time is still contiguous– in no way does Slipspace prevent you from doing something so simple as maintaining a 24 hour ship’s day. Remember that clocks are just physical processes that are engineered to happen periodically: if Slipspace did interfere with the laws of physics so severely it became impossible to keep accurate time, the crew would all be dead because their brains wouldn’t work!
“Not that that’s stopped Kilburn and Smythe before now, of course.”
“John got pretty aggravated at Lieutenant Fisher, didn’t he?” Thomsen asked sleepily. Even he was calling him by his real name now.
“To this tale’s eternal shame.”
“Hmm, ” Dr. Halsey answered thoughtfully, not taking her eyes off her computer screen, her fingers flying across the keys, “Normally John is good at controlling his anger, and in this case, he didn’t.
Boy is that the understatement of the year.
This leads me to believe that Fisher probably had it coming beforehand, and John had probably confined his feelings until they exploded.
Terrible Troy Counter: No, it leads you to believe that the intensive psychological screening you incorporated into the Spartan program done fucked up. 51!
Also, by the time you get to high school “he confined his feelings until they exploded” really doesn’t excuse jack shit.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 39
Luckily, he didn’t decide to do anything physical. Intimidating as it is to believe, John could easily overpower us all. If he had wanted to, he could have easily lived up to his words of breaking all of the Lieutenant’s bones.”
“Do you think there’s a danger that it might happen?” Thomsen asked.
“There’s always a slight risk,” Dr. Halsey answered, “There’s always a slight risk for everything, Blake. If Fisher continues his pestering, he might wind up with a broken limb.”
… And that’s terrifying.
“Well, I don’t like conflict between our own personnel,” Thomsen replied,
What a novel sentiment for a leader!
“I didn’t know Captain Thomsen’s original last name was Obvious.”
“And if it keeps up. I’ll have to ask you to tell John to go into cryo, because as much as he deserves a break, if there’s trouble being caused because of him, he can just as easily have a break in cryo sleep.”
“That, and instead of trying to take him out while he’s active, we could just jettison his pod and call it an ‘equipment malfunction’.”
“Really, Captain?” Dr. Halsey looked at him, “If anyone should be made to go to cryo, it would be Lieutenant Fisher. He strikes me as someone who’s awfully negative.”
Terrible Troy Counter: 52. Since when did ‘negativity’ become a court-martial offense?
“Probably at about the same time as fraternization stopped being one.”
Suddenly the both of them were distracted as Keira interrupted them.
Yes, that’s generally how interrupting works…
“Sorry to interrupt, but, I’ve just received a message from the UNSC Corinth! ” she cried excitedly.
Ok, it is just me, or is Kira the AI becoming progressively more annoying as the story goes on?
“Open it.” Thomsen ordered, sitting up straight in his chair.
“Right away, ” Keira answered, and within a second, the message popped up on the holographic screen.
Ok, I think AB means this transparent chart thingy, but it’s really hard to say since I have no idea if all Halcyon-class frigates have those or exactly where on the bridge anyone actually is. It’d really help if anything about this ship’s environs was ever actually, you know, described…
MARCH 10, 2535-SENT 18:53:19 HOURS
FROM : CAPTAIN PETE WILLIAMSON, UNSC CORINTH
CAPTAIN BLAKE THOMSEN, UNSC HERCULES
CAPTAIN MATTHEW SCHULTZ, UNSC ONE HOPE
Looks like they left out Captain John J. Genericson from the list again…
“Also, while not nearly as purple as the Covenant’s typical choices, the naming conventions for UNSC warships are typically a bit more elaborate than what we see here.”
CAPTAIN JACK RIMMEL, UNSC ACHILLES
Was that a Red Dwarf reference????
“No, you’re thinking of Arnold Rimmer.”
It’s really starting to disturb me how much television you’ve been able to watch. Aren’t you supposed to be running your munitions company or something?
“Bah. I can afford People to do that for me.”
Just don’t start yammering about Game of Thrones…
[CLICK TO EXPAND LIST]
STATUS : CLASSIFIED
“So let’s just go ahead and read it on the main screen in front of all the bridge personnel…”
At approximately 15:21 hours, in the Lacertae system, a Covenant Assault Carrier, going by the name of The Domination, has exited Slipspace 2.1 light years from the planet Lacerta and her surrounding colonies.
“They have already commenced a heavy comma bombardment, resulting in significant tense shifts!”
Also, are they really going to exit Slipspace 2.1 light years from their target? That’d kind of take them, you know, more than 2.1 years to actually get to Lacerta.
It has been estimated that a fleet of over 100 ships have rendezvoused since that time. There is very little hope for Lacerta, as they’ve already started glassing. Lacerta has a population of 3,000,000.
All ships respond immediately.
Ok, I know this is supposed to sound terse and official, but really it gives off more of a feeling of random facts pulled out of a larger report by some kind of rudimentary computer program.
“Also, this reveals the contents of the message to be information about a major Covenant incursion, and orders for every ship in the area to stop whatever it is they are doing and assist the colony under attack. So why is it being sent by another ship captain and not someone higher up in FLEETCOM?”
Actually, for that matter, how is this message being sent? UNSC interstellar communications technology is pretty limited as of the 2530s, and ships can’t just arbitrarily send messages to each other without being in close physical proximity.
[CLICK TO RECEIVE EXACT SLIPSPACE CALCULATIONS]
“Because apparently those can just be computed a priori, and have nothing to do with a ship’s current location…”
– END FILE-
Thomsen let out a breath, as Keira closed the file. He looked to Dr. Halsey, who had gone pale. Although receiving reports of colonies under attack had become common within the last few years, you always felt the same reaction: anger, sadness, and above all, hopelessness.
“Wait, I’m always feeling the same reaction?”
SUDDENLY SECOND PERSON
“The Domination, isn’t that the ship that attacked us?” Dr. Halsey said quietly, looking to Thomsen.
“Yes,” he nodded solemnly.
“Plans, Captain?” Keira asked almost impatiently.
“Aye. It may be a good idea to get into the habit of making them before engaging the enemy…”
“How far are we from the Lacertae system?” Thomsen demanded, standing up to begin pacing the bridge. He rubbed his temples thoughtfully .
“If we continue in the Slipspace void, exactly 1 day, 4 hours, 24 minutes and 30 seconds and counting,” Keira replied, “The recipients of the message have been arranged by their closeness.
“Closeness”, by the way, being the technical term for “proximity”…
We’re at the top, which means we’re the closest vessel.”
“Chart our course for the Lacertae system, Keira, ” Thomsen said lowly,
Wait, weren’t you already going there? Since Kiera said that if you continued you’d arrive in about a day?
“Actually, for that matter, where was the Hercules going before this message arrived? They stayed in Slipspace so it wasn’t as though they had a patrol route or something, but apparently their retreat from Capricornia was just… directionless?”
“Let’s hope we can get there in time.”
Back in the cafeteria, Renee and John were being pummeled full-force
“Oooh, by a firing squad?!”
by Amy’s questioning.
She, like John had predicted, had witnessed the whole scene from afar- more than Troy had. And she had no guilt mentioning that she snooped on them,
That’s because she’s a horrible person.
in fact, her chest was almost swelling with pride as she chattered on.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 40
John and Renee sat across the table from her, both of them looking tuckered out from the interrogation.
“Have you ever noticed how Love of a Spartan has a few specific phrases that it really, really likes?”
She had made the move to take his hand in hers, and although his hand was tense, he allowed her to hold it beneath the table. John, Renee noticed, even though they could be considered as in a relationship, was still quiet as he had been before.
She had expected him to open up a little, but he still said few words, and his default expression held main command over his features.
Whatever the fuck that means…
However, he would smile a little more, whether it to her or Amy, but the smiles, she noticed, most of them appeared to come onto his face unnaturally. He wasn’t used to it, she realized, so the smile ended up looking like it was almost painful.
“Much like the prose.”
It looked almost like his face wasn’t elasticized, but John couldn’t be blamed.
No, that’s strictly the fault of the story.
“I don’t know, by now I think we can blame John-117 for quite a lot indeed…”
Everyone knew the rumors; he had been trained since six years old. While other children were outside playing with their friends, laughing, smiling, spending time with their families, John had been on Reach, running through obstacle courses, learning how to shoot weapons, and strategizing with his fellow trainees.
There hadn’t been many opportunities to smile.
Ok, I’ll buy that maybe the nature of the SPARTAN-II program has leaked out to the degree that ordinary Marines might have heard rumors of it, but that doesn’t mean they should be treating it as fact like they do here.
“So, what are your plans after the war?” Amy asked, her voice almost too bubbly, to a point where it was borderline annoying,
“I’m going to go home and finally get married to Wayne, although he’ll probably be an old geezer by then, and me, having been in space for so many years. I’ll hardly look any different!”
No you won’t, you idiot.
“Then again, considering the intelligence- or lack thereof- Smythe has demonstrated thus far, it would be entirely within her faculties to think relativistic processes automatically started happening to anything beyond a planetary atmosphere. In fact, the only thing here that is remotely out of character for her is that she has any idea that relativity exists.”
“How can you think that far ahead?” Renee retorted, “The war’s been on for ten years, what’s stopping it from going on for another decade or two?” She despised her own response, but it was the truth. Not to mention she wasn’t in the best of moods, despite her current situation. “It’s not like we’re winning, anyhow.”
Pretty much, yeah. That said, the UNSC doesn’t seem to be in that big of a crunch for boots on the ground as it is for equipment, ships, and experienced technical personnel, so even though the war does indeed go on for decades they would probably be able to get non-front-line postings or even just retire all together.
She looked down to her milk carton, which she disregarded now because it the milk had gotten warm.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 41
“Also, that’s not the correct word.”
“Nor the correct grammar.”
It was suddenly very inviting to look at, for she could feel both Amy and John’s eyes on her.
“What suddenly made you so negative?” Amy asked, appearing almost shocked, “A week or so ago, you would have said we were winning.”
“We’re not,” Renee played with her dog tags, sliding them back and forth along the chain, “I have a feeling, Amy. It’s not good.”
What, the story? Yeah, we know.
Below the table, Renee felt John’s grip on her hand grow even more tense.
“What the hell?” Amy cried, “What’s up with you? There isn’t any damn excuse for your negativity, RenRen. So smarten up before I whack you one.”
Renee smirked and laughed slightly, and glanced at John. He was studying the table, not looking at anything in particular. His furrowed brows and narrowed eyes told her he was in deep thought. She gave his hand a little squeeze, but she knew it wouldn’t be a “squeeze” to him. He probably hardly even felt it, but he felt something and looked down to their intertwined hands and up to her eyes.
There didn’t seem to be any right words for the moment,
“Although that’s hardly stopped AshleyBudrick before…”
so she just smiled. John returned it fully, showing his teeth, and she knew it was a real smile. He looked so handsome when he smiled, she noted mentally. He always looked so gloomy with that half-frown on his face.
Halight Counter: 16
“Back to exchanging smiles?” Amy put in her two cents worth, “I think it was more entertaining when you two were exchanging spit.”
“Oh, Amy,” Renee retorted, a laugh mingling with her voice. She reached across the table and threw a playful punch at her friend’s shoulder. She hit her target, and Amy recoiled back, saying “Ouch” pretty loudly, some marines to look in their direction.
I think she accidentally a word again.
“This is going to reach Mykan levels if it keeps up.”
Renee turned to John, who looked amused.
“Did you get that?” she asked.
“Oh he got it,” Amy dismissed Renee’s words with a laugh and a wave of her hand, “Didn’t ya John? You know what swapping spit is.”
“Well if he didn’t before he certainly does now…”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: –
Hmm, actually, this is almost the sort of brain-dead, sophomoric humor I’d expect from actual UNSC Marines- most of their noncombat dialogue in the games involves going off on these sort of weird tangents, so this conversation is just bizarre enough to fit.
“Want some?” John asked, keeping his face absolutely serious. He picked up her empty milk carton, and spit into it, then held it out to her, a smile breaking onto his lips, “There you go.”
Is this supposed to be funny?
Because, well, yes, it is, but I doubt in the way it was intended.
Amy looked at the milk carton in he was holding out to her, then up to John.
“You’re joking, right?” she asked, looking at the milk carton as if it was some sort of diseased object, “Renee, you can have it.”
Not sure why she’d bother, considering that she seems to have John-117’s saliva on demand now anyway.
“Yet another sentence I would never have heard were it not for Love of a Spartan.”
John set down the milk carton, and laughed aloud, causing Amy to instantly look at him in utter awe.
“You- laughed!” Amy declared, pointing an accusing finger at him, “He laughed!” she looked to Renee, “Did you hear that?”
“Of course he can laugh.”
And I can run people over with automated construction equipment, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Suddenly, the loud speakers in the room buzzed to life, causing everyone to stop what they were doing and look up at them expectantly.
“This is the Captain speaking, ” Thomsen’s calm voice came over the intercom,
“Just shortly, we received a message from the UNSC Corinth.
“They have already received a message… in the future?”
God dammit, I thought the relativistic mindfuck was over!
They have informed us that the Lacertae system is under Covenant attack, and we are going to their aid. We are one of the closest ships, so we will arrive in little more than a day. I will be briefing you later tomorrow afternoon, and I expect you all to be ready for defending the colony. Shine the vehicles, load your weapons, get cleaned up and get a good sleep. That is all. “
It was silent for a moment, but then the cafeteria erupted into a buzz as everyone started talking at the same time.
… Why does Thomsen sound so much like a high-school principal asking his students to get ready for a big game?
“Probably because he is.”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 42
Renee exchanged glances with John, and Amy.
“Well, at least we’ll have something to do,” Amy shrugged, “Another planet to defend,” she looked to John, “You can do it, sir! It’s good that you shined up your armor today when you did, you saved yourself some work.”
Worst. Peptalk. Ever.
John didn’t reply. His eyes were narrowed, his mouth a firm line .
“John?” Renee asked, concern floating in her voice. He let go of her hand and got up from the table.
“Kelly and James are on Lacerta, ” he said lowly, before leaving, “Excuse me.”
“Kelly and James?” Amy echoed, “Who the hell are tha-”
She stopped when Renee shook her head, warning her not to continue .
“They’re his fellow Spartans,” she said quietly, “I’m going to talk to him.”
Oh, this is gonna go real well…
Renee got up quickly and left the room. Amy sighed, and ran her fingers through her hair, but smiled slightly.
“Yeah, go and talk to him. Make it a good conversation, ” she called after her.
“Knowing LoaS, it won’t be.”
Renee was surprised how far John had gotten by the time she had left the cafeteria. John was at far end of the hallway, and was taking a right, which she recognized was the direction to the officer’s quarters, where his new room was located.
“I’m not concerned that this entire hallway is beige. What really frightens me is that this is the most description of the Hercules’ internal configuration as we are ever going to get.”
She paused for a moment, deciding whether or not it would be a good idea to follow him to his room, but she shook her thoughts away and broke into a run to catch up with him, her dog tags bouncing off her chest, jingling.
Wait, shouldn’t she be wearing those under her shirt? Is there, like, an official way you’re supposed to wear them?
“I wouldn’t know, in the Turian Army they gave us all bracelets. But none of the Navy personnel we see in the games have visible tags, and they usually weren’t wearing body armor or anything that would cover them where off-duty fatigues would not.”
As she ran down the hallway, she didn’t notice as she passed Troy, who glared after her, his face very solemn looking.
Terrible Troy Counter: Uh-oh.
“John!” Renee called, rounding the corner. Up ahead, she saw the last of John disappearing into his room,
“An unusual turn of phrasing which implies that John-117 is some sort of hive mind…”
“At this point, I would welcome the arrival of the Flood.”
and she quickly jogged up to the door, which was almost closed. Upon her arrival, though, the motion sensors detected her and it hissed back open.
“That is a very poor design for the doors to private quarters!”
John, who had barely had enough time to walk over to his locker, turned around in a quick blurred movement.
Halight Counter: 17
When he saw who it was, he let out a little sigh of relief and let his body relax. Renee stood in the doorway quietly, not sure what to do. They looked at each other for a moment.
“You can come in, ” John said finally, turning around and opening his locker door, “I don’t bite.”
I don’t even want to know.
Renee walked timidly across the threshold into the room, as the door hissed shut behind her. John’s new room was larger than her own, but only slightly more decorated. It was still simple. For a moment, she contemplated remarking about the room, but the time didn’t seem that right for that.
“Because Forerunners forbid we encounter description in this tale!”
“Kelly and James, they’re Spartans, aren’t they?” she asked bluntly.
John paused from rooting in his locker, and turned around to face her.
“Yes, ” he answered, his facial expressions showing that Kelly and James clearly meant something to him, “They’re part of my team.”
“I thought so.”
“Wait, if she’s asking that now, why was she certain of it before?”
Hmm, maybe I was wrong to discount time-altering effects up above- this entire ‘fic makes a lot more sense if you assume that all of the characters are mentally regressing!
“I shouldn’t be worried about them,” John sighed, “But as their leader, I have to be. It’s my duty, even though I know they have no issues fending for themselves.”
“There’s nothing wrong with caring for your teammates.”
“It’s nerve wracking sometimes; they’re under my command, and they’re my friends too.
“Actually, they’re not under his command, they both take orders from the same people.”
Now I have you and Amy.”
“You don’t have to worry about us.”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, you don’t – don’t you see, that’s I said earlier in the cafeteria; I’m just another person for you to carry about.
Pretty much, yeah.
Look, I care about you, but I think it’d be too much worry for you to care about me back. If something ever happened, to either of us- “
… we’d be done with this horrible ‘fic?
“Don’t say that.” John snapped, seriousness filling his voice. He stepped towards her, almost looking threatening. He clenched his fists, looking suddenly wild, “I don’t want you to hear that come out of your mouth again.”
“Oh, not again…”
Halight Counter: 18
Renee looked at him uncertainly for a moment, unsure of his words. John let out a deep breath, and unclenched his fists, allowing blood to flow back into his fingers.
“For nothing says ‘stable relationship’ as succinctly as indicating your readiness to beat your mate.”
He looked at her for a while, until he repeated, “Nothing is going to happen to either of us, I promise.
Boy have you got that right…
“Nothing is ever going to happen, period.”
I don’t want you to say that ever again…” he walked closer to her, and then snapped his arms out, grabbed her by the upper arms, and pulled her close to him instantly, and Renee let out a little gasp, but John leaned down into her ear and whispered, “That’s an order. Private.”
No it isn’t, it’s incredibly creepy.
“ Abuse of command responsibilities at the expense of your subordinates, especially in trying to get your subordinates to fuck you, is a serious problem. Normally I wouldn’t find this sort of dialogue to be at all objectionable, but at this point I am not at all sure he means that as a joke, or as an actual order not to contradict his idea of their relationship. He’s already extremely controlling of his so-called ‘mate’, and I would not put it past him in the slightest to try to train her into thinking that her obedience to his personal desires is part of her job as a soldier.
Shameful, absolutely shameful.”
He pulled back to look into her eyes, and Renee could see his expression had softened again, but she didn’t have much time to analyze the fact, because he kissed her fiercely, and she melted against him,
“Yeah, plasma fire will do that.”
Don’t I wish…
forgetting about everything else. Her knees felt weak, but she knew he could hold her up.
They kissed for a long time, with the satisfaction and knowing that they wouldn’t be bothered in this room, no Amy would be watching, no Troy would come along. They were alone.
Please, oh please don’t bang.
“Actually, on second thought, bang. Get it out of your system, and then get on with your jobs.”
John pulled back after the longest time, looking into Renee’s eyes for a while. He brought his hand up to touch her face, as if to make sure she was real. Assured, he kissed her forehead, and then her cheek, her lips, then huskily muttered in her ear, a laugh mingling in his voice:
“I think I’m getting addicted.”
“And I think I’m developing an allergic reaction.”
Renee smiled, a blush creeping up on her cheeks. She stood there motionless, closed her eyes and allowed John to plant kisses all over her face, her heart pounding in her ears. She’d never thought this would happen. Just a couple of days ago, she had barely known John- and it happened that fast, they’d fallen that fast.
Oh, they’ve fallen all right.
She’d never expected it, and if someone were to go back in time and tell her that she’d realize she loved Spartan John-117, she would’ve told them they were crazy.
Sadly, they wouldn’t be the crazy ones.
Crazy indeed, this all seemed. John had seemed like such an introverted individual, a master of controlling both expression and the emotion that provoked it; she would’ve never guessed underneath his mask of a hardened soldier, all those scars, bruises, his rugged face, that there was a heart that was very much susceptible to human emotion, a big heart, a heart that allowed him to love.
Wait what? Did we somehow end up reading How the Grinch Stole Halo by mistake?
“That already sounds better than Love of a Spartan.”
Love was without a doubt, something new to John, that much Renee knew. It was clear he had never known love, never felt it before.
Renee studied his strong features, craning her neck to do so- the straightness of his nose, his thin lips, piercing dark eyes and that mysterious scar beneath his eye. She wondered how he got it.
“Almost certainly by doing something more interesting than this.”
“I hope you can forgive me,” he said unexpectedly.
“No. Foolishness of this magnitude is beyond atonement.”
She let out a small laugh.
“Well, let’s see here- for abusing his rank and augmentations, sexual harassment, making bloody threats against a poor man who’s just trying to do his job, and of course enabling you idiots’ massively unprofessional behavior.”
“My inexperience,” John was perfectly serious, “I’ll get better,
“No, he really won’t.”
Although to be fair, at least your author will…
I feel I need to prove to you how much -” a thoughtful pause, ” -I care for you. I may not be good with words,
Boy have you got that right…
but know this, I’ve never felt this way before Renee, and I can’t help but feel I’m walking blind. If I’m doing anything wrong, tell me, correct me. I want to be good at this; I want to treat you as you deserve-“
And, of course, Mr. “Not Good With Words” immediately launches into this long, involved, purple soliloquy…
Renee smiled. “You’re doing just fine.”
No. You really aren’t.
Good night, and good luck.