1591: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Twelve, Part One

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

[Future AdmiralSakai’s note: In the time between when I wrote this riff and when it actually appeared, AshleyBudrick decided to go ahead and begin uploading a much improved rewrite of the story to her old FF.net account. I’ve been passing her a little constructive criticism now and then, but it’s mostly been about relatively minor things- I still don’t really know what direction the story is going to take, but it’s good enough from chapter to chapter that it’s more than worth reading on its own. I, of course, still intend to continue my riff of this version to the bitter end- partly because that’s what I said I’d do, but I also think these riffs will prove to be worthwhile in helping other people to start on the process of learning to be as good a writer as AshleyBudrick now is.

The new ‘fic can be found here, and I highly encourage interested patrons to check it out and maybe leave a review or two of their own.]

Hello hello everyone, and welcome back to Love of a Spartan, the ‘fic that makes The Eight Spirit look action-packed and thrilling.

Previously… well, even by LoaS standards extremely little actually happened. The crew received orders to try to defend a colony called Lacerta from the Covenant, but other than that Kilburn and Smythe were still unprofessional, Lieutenant Fisher was still justifiably exasperated, and John-117 was still an unstable, borderline-abusive psychopath.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 52

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 42

Halight Counter: 18

Thus without further ado we can begin. Chapter Twelve/”Eleven” is called “Rise and Shine”, which considering that Renee ended the last chapter inside of the Master Chief’s latest quarters already has some rather filthy implications.

[March 11, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules – Nearing the Lacertae System]


Well, I’m just glad it’s not “Slipspace” again.

There was a loud beeping that slowly drifted into John’s dream, and aroused him from his sleep.

Again, not the right word.

At least… I’m hoping that’s not the right word…”

He opened one eye, and looked down into his arms at Renee, who was snuggled close to his chest. She was still sleeping peacefully. So they had fallen asleep, he realized then – they hadn’t intended it.

Ok, I was expecting John to be underwhelming in bed, but I didn’t think he’d be that bad…

He wondered what time it was now – the middle of the night, or early morning? John let out a little groan of discontent as the beeping continued, and he looked to the bedside table, and he saw the noise was coming from his pager, which had been assigned to all higher ranking personnel. It allowed people from the bridge and other areas of the ship to contact them when needed.

Hey, that’s a pretty cool piece of technology… for 1989

He extended his long arm and fumbled for the speaker button on the top, and he found it,

The Demon has a speaker button atop his arm?”

but not before almost knocking the pager off the table. When pushed, the noisy thing let out one loud beep, and he heard brief static, and then he mumbled drowsily, “John-117.”

Renee stirred briefly, but she just snuggled closer to him. John smiled slightly at her unconscious gesture, and then looked up to the pager, waiting for a response.

“John, finally!” he eventually heard Keira’s soft yet impatient voice, “We’ve been trying to reach you for at least an hour!”

“What? What time is it?”

“We’ve exited Slipspace- its 11:45 hours.”

…”

…”

“Oh no,” John groaned, sighing slightly. After a moment of bowing his head in utter disappointment in himself, he muttered, “Thank you, Keira . “

Ohhh, he’d better be disappointed… Gul, take it away.

*Ahem*

As much as this story wants to prove otherwise, the two of you are supposed to be soldiers. That means that you should consider yourselves lucky to have a day’s advance notice of the upcoming counterattack on Lacerta and not be thrown from your bunks at 0300 by the opening salvo of a Covenant ambush. Your lives, the lives of your comrades, and the lives of the UNSC civilians you swore to protect all depend, among other things, on your ability to be where you are told to be, when you are told to be there. If you can’t act as part of a coordinated unit on even this basic level, they will either have to waste valuable time -time the Covenant is using to glass the planet- sitting around until you decide to show up, or much more likely they will just leave without you, shorthanded, and you will have put all of them in that much greater danger.”

Actually, for that matter, how did he sleep so goddamn long in the first place?! During the school year I’m typically up to one or two in the morning working on one piece of arcane technical bullshit or another, and I rarely feel any need to sleep past 9:00 AM- and I’m an unaugmented civilian. Judging by the timestamps and meals last chapter he went to bed some time around six or seven in the evening. Even slotting an additional two hours for hanky-panky, that still means they slept for the better part of twelve consecutive hours. This, quite honestly, goes beyond the Mommie’s Little Marines counter and into just plain old abnormal.

Oh, what the hell, this is so shockingly unprofessional I’m incrementing the counter anyway.

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 43

“Speaking of things abnormal, how come during the hour the Chief spent not responding to his communicator nobody on the bridge ever thought to send a Marine to his quarters to make sure… I don’t know, a stealth Elite hadn’t snuck inside and killed him, since apparently that’s a thing that can happen now?”

“You’re welcome, John. As soon as you’re up and bright eyed and bushy tailed, we’d like you to report to the bridge.

You know, if you feel like it.

*Retches*”

I thought Sangheili didn’t have gag reflexes.

So did I.”

Dr. Halsey wants a word with you. You’d better double-time it, everyone’s way ahead of you. Over and out.”

John sighed, and flopped back onto his back, looking up at the ceiling. Well, at least he had a long history of being woken up unpleasantly, so it wasn’t that bad. He briefly recalled his first day in boot, where the trainers had woke all the Spartans with stun batons.

So, would it be at all possible to just send him back to boot camp? Like, permanently?”

He sat up, throwing back the blankets, although careful to not throw them off Renee, who looked too comfortable to disturb yet.

You know, she probably needs to go somewhere and do something too

John quietly, and stealthily as possible, crawled over her and leaped lightly onto the floor, which was cold on his bare feet. As he quietly opened his locker door, and began rummaging for a uniform- he was just in a pair of sweatpants- he began to think about the night gone past.

He and Renee hadn’t done anything wrong, John was almost sure of it.

Oh yes they have…”

They had kissed for a while, and talked a normal conversation for he didn’t know how long.

No conversation with these idiots is ever normal.

If anyone happened to find out Renee had spent the night in his room, he knew they’d assume one thing that wasn’t as innocent- something that they hadn’t done.

Wait, so they didn’t bang?

I don’t know, for all the prose is telling us he means they didn’t plot to defect to the Insurrection.”

Vague ‘fic is vague.

John knew all he had to know about that subject, but something last night had held him back from going that far, probably the fact that he didn’t have a sweet clue if it was even allowed in these circumstances- not that it really suited the situation anyhow.

Vague ‘fic is really vague.

He doubted it, and realized that if something would get out amongst the others, that it would probably be viewed as a scandal and give a bad name to Renee, himself, and his Spartans.

Oh, Demon. You have already done that perfectly well on your own.”

John was threatened enough by what Dr. Halsey would think, not to mention what Lieutenant Troy Fisher would go around saying.

Hopefully it would involve the words ‘under arrest’, ‘court-martial’, ‘blatant fraternization’, and ‘disgrace to the UNSC’.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 53

Besides, Renee hadn’t made any mentions or suggestions about it last night anyway. The both of them had been content to just lay there talk, get to know each other better, exchange light kisses

“… and accidentally a few words.”

Also, why am I getting a weird sort of “slumber party” vibe from this?

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 44

Maybe… just maybe…  if this war ever ended… and there was nothing holding them back…

John chuckled to himself, shaking his head disapprovingly at his wandering mind.

Good. Maybe next he can start on the wandering plot.”

“What’s so funny?”

He turned around and saw Renee was awake, looking at him curiously with her eyebrow raised. Her hair was slightly tousled.

“Nothing, ” John answered,

Boy, have you got that right…

wiping the smile off his face, “You should get up. It’s 11:45 hours.”

“What?” Renee cried, throwing back the sheets and jumping out of bed, “Oh no! How could this happen? I’ve never slept this late in a long time…”

Again, I am not sure how doing so would be physically possible.

She stretched, and then adjusted her shirt that had been a little twisted. John turned back to his locker, “I’ve never slept this late in my entire life.”

Renee laughed slightly, and hugged herself, the room a little on the chilly side. She felt slightly out of place and embarrassed,

As well she should!”

like she was in the way, or like she didn’t belong in John’s room.

Maybe it’s because she’s out of place and doesn’t belong in John’s room!”

She really didn’t belong. She just hoped that no one, besides Amy, would find out that she had ever fallen asleep in the same bed with John, because others would be quick to assume other events had occurred.

Not really. This is Love of a Spartan, after all- nothing eventful ever occurs.”

“I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” she said awkwardly.

“Neither did I,” John agreed, finally deciding on a garment and pulling on a grey muscle shirt, “But, I don’t regret it. I had a good sleep.”

You know, for people whose job prominently features uniforms, the cast of Love of a Spartan sure do seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to wear.

“So did I,” she nodded in a small voice, but then added solemnly, “We can’t let anyone know this happened.”

“I know,” John’s face grew serious, “Especially someone associated with Fisher. Even though it was only sleep, if the information gets out, it could easily ruin reputations.”

Terrible Troy Counter: 54. And your reputations were already ruined.

He turned fully to face her, “Not even Amy can know.”

“John, I trust Amy with my life; besides, she can speculate where I am. She won’t tell a soul.”

Amy has all the self-control of a Grunt in a benzene refinery, and I wouldn’t trust her with a pet rock.

John sighed, but nodded.

“We’ve exited Slipspace, ” he explained, “All of the other marines are probably way ahead of you;

Just in general, we mean. They graduated middle school and everything.

you need to hurry and get suited up. As do I, but first I need to report to the bridge. So, I’ll see you later . ”

He took a step forward, leaned down and gently kissed her cheek, then pulled back. Renee looked up at him, seeming reluctant. He gestured with his head to the door.

“That’s an order,” he said with a little smile.

“Sir, “

And that’s still incredibly disturbing.”

I’m not trying to suggest by all of this that pairings up/down a command structure, or the participants drawing attention to that disparity in rank, are automatically creepy. If I did think that, I wouldn’t have included (and substantially expanded) the Garrus-Shepard relationship in Palaven’s Dogs. But that’s not the same as what we’re seeing here.

Both Garrus Vakarian and Elizabeth Shepard are veteran officers, with the emotional maturity and command experience necessary to handle that kind of involvement without becoming compromised; The regular working relationship between a ship commander and her XO is already a lot closer and more trusting than an NCO and some random private; Garrus is able to hold his own either in a firefight or a shouting match without needing his bedmate to charge in and tell him what to do, and Shepard doesn’t go all kneecap-smashy on anybody who so much as looks at him wrong; When they disagree on personal issues Shepard doesn’t use her position to tell Garrus what to say, what to think, or how to act, but at the same time she doesn’t abandon her command responsibilities to coddle him or bring up their relationship when debating tactical decisions. And, most importantly, Elizabeth Shepard never, ever considers using her rank, or the physical advantage of her own cybernetic/genetic enhancements, to make Garrus do anything that he has previously indicated to her he does not want.

In a lot of the PD process documents I’ve described Shepard and Garrus as “comrades with benefits”, but really ultimately the relationship between them is a very committed one based on trust and mutual respect. The relationship between John-117 and Renee Kilburn looks like it’s formed off of teenage crushes and delusions of persecution, but every time he starts mock-ordering her to feel a certain way or continue on with her hideously unprofessional behavior, I realize that deep down it’s really just based on control.

she smiled, and then she turned and walked out of the room, cautiously at first, making sure there was no one around- and there wasn’t, so she hurried off.

‘Kolsamee watched with interesting anticipation as the door to the Demon’s room opened,

I’m sure the narrative must mean interested. Nothing since Chapter Eight has been interesting.”

and the human female named Renee walked out. She looked in his direction, but couldn’t see him of course, since he was stealthily tucked back against the wall, his invisibility cloak providing him wonderful cover.

Yes, that generally is the function of active camouflage…”

I guess this guy must have trained under Captain Thomsen’s Sangheili counterpart, Shipmaster ‘Obviouslee.

He could grab her right now, break her neck and start a fight with the Demon right at that instant, but of course, he hadn’t been able to contact ‘Malnoonee.

You know, generally the idea of deploying isolated, covert infiltration troops on long-term missions within enemy territory is that they will be able to take actions to advance your objectives without radioing back to Command for orders every ten seconds.”

As he watched the human girl run past him and down an adjacent passage, he realized this was the best evidence yet. She had no business being in the Demon’s room, unless she had slept there, and Humans just didn’t sleep with one another without a given reason.

Except in Love of a Spartan, of course.

Anyway, ‘Kolsamee is able to punch a signal across several light-hours’ worth of space using only his headset, and rubs mandibles with that ‘Maloonee person some more without actually discussing anything of tactical importance. I’m not certain how such a powerful transmission isn’t picked up immediately given that the UNSC routinely taps Covenant battlenets and he is currently inside one of their ships, but maybe Kira the AI slept in late today as well. ‘Kolsamee makes an unnecessarily large point of the fact that the Chief and Renee are starting a courtship process, and vows to eliminate them both ‘with absolute pleasure’.”

Serious military science fiction should not be making me think of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I think I’m going to close on that note for today- we didn’t cover a lot of Chapter Twelve and there isn’t a lot left to go, but in between the various rants up above and the methodical dissection of some absolutely moronic conversations I know I’m going to have to do later on this riff would end up being close to twenty pages long if I did it all at once, and nobody wants to read that. The good news is, we’re now at Chapter 12.5- officially one quarter of the way through the ‘fic!

Good night, and good luck.

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7 Comments on “1591: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Twelve, Part One”

  1. BatJamags says:

    Renee laughed slightly, and hugged herself, the room a little on the chilly side. She felt slightly out of place and embarrassed,

    GAH!

    You have to warn me about stairs the POV whiplash, author!

  2. BatJamags says:

    You know, for people whose job prominently features uniforms, the cast of Love of a Spartan sure do seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to wear.

    Mommy’s Little Marines: Ohmygod, I have to decide what to wear today! The football team is playing against Normandy High from the next franchise over, and all my friends are going to be there!

  3. BatJamags says:

    ‘Kolsamee makes an unnecessarily large point of the fact that the Chief and Renee are starting a courtship process, and vows to eliminate them both ‘with absolute pleasure’.”

    That’s an easy mistake to make for an author: giving the characters the same priorities as the author. The author is writing a romance story, so the Covenant agent takes an interest in the romance. It’s a typical symptom of underdeveloped characters – they’ve got no personality or thoughts of their own, so the author speaks through them to move the plot forward.

  4. andiliteman says:

    [Future AdmiralSakai’s note: In the time between when I wrote this…

    I just want to say congratulations to AshleyBudtick for his/her dedication, willingness to improve and vigilance in the face of criticism that most authors don’t know how to handle. It’s awesome that he/she has made the decision not only to listen to an editor, but to keep at it. It’s the mark of not only a good writer, but a good person.


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