1644: Love of a Spartan – Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen

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

Hello hello, all you patrons, and welcome back to Love of a Spartan.

Last time we met, the Chief did a bit of an angstbucket routine regarding the Fisher Incident from last chapter but didn’t suggest, you know, getting him written up or anything. Then his childish impetuousness got a whole lot more harmful as an undefined number of Marines rode off to save Lacerta’s “main city” (now named “Zarunai”) following Edward’s nonsensical orders and he led them directly into a Covenant ambush that killed four people. Sadly, neither Kilburn nor Smythe were among the casualties. And that was about it.

Terrible Troy Counter: 89

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 71

Fucking Halight Counter: 28

Oh, by the way, Sakai? Do you have any idea where the Arbiter went? I haven’t seem him since the start of this block.”

Oh, him? This ‘fic doesn’t have nearly as much of a Sangheili element as I was expecting (I mean, there’s Fuck-Shit, but he hardly counts as an Elite any more), so I let him go back to meta-Sanghelios to take some time off.

Wait, you can do that?”

Funny how you ask that after you abandoned me to face the Creepypasta with only a trigger-happy, scientifically illiterate fishwoman for backup…

I’ll be sure to tell Guard-Novitiate Psk’Nyor you said that about her.”

Can we just go?

Right. In keeping with LoaS‘s tendency to spoil important events in its titles, Chapter 16/Fifteen is entitled ‘Lacerta’s Fall’.”

[March 12, 2535 – City of Zarunai – Lacerta]

… funny how the scene tags stopped referring to ‘Lacertai’s Main City’ after it got a name in the narrative…”

It opens with Mommy’s Little Marines wandering through what’s left of Zarunai and chatting about Renee punching Troy Fisher without addressing his unwanted advances, and for once there’s no heavy-handed dialogue complaining about how awful he is.

“Do you know what happened to Troy’s nose?” Amy asked very lowly, walking closer to Renee so it would be easier for her to hear her, “It’s smashed pretty badly, but he easily deserves it. These are the times when I believe in bad karma.”

Ok, well, maybe a little.

Terrible Troy Counter: 90

“Troy’s done too much to ever hope of receiving my forgiveness,” Amy replied with a scoff, “I don’t care if Troy comes back begging on his knees. As far as I’m concerned, he’s no friend of mine.

Err… maybe a lot.

Terrible Troy Counter: 91

The only reason why he pulled Mr. Nice-Guy on you is because he still likes you, but you’ve got John now, a real man.”

Oh, he’s a MAN all right…”

They keep going, and there’s more… actually rather decent description of the city’s ruined state. During it, we also learn that Zarunai had a population of ‘over a million’- which seems rather low for what was supposed to be the “main city” of an entire colony- but that they’re all supposed to have been evacuated by now.”

That, in turn, makes me wonder just where they all went. There’s no mention of a Marine presence anywhere else on the planet so I doubt they’ve set up any kind of a camp planetside, but with Covenant ships in low orbit they can’t really leave the planet either.

Funny you should ask that…”

Kelly was standing several feet ahead of him, her arms down at her sides, her assault rifle held loosely in one hand. She was unmoving, and with good reason.

Past her, lay hundreds, if not thousands, of dead bodies. Human bodies. They were thrown carelessly into a pile in the middle of an intersection, the mass stretching on for nearly a full city block. Men, women, children- from old to young, all of them dead, most of their bodies mangled and melted from plasma, or broken and shattered in abnormal contortions from being mauled.

John, although he normally had a very strong stomach, felt nausea creeping up on him. The smell of decay and blood filled his nose and it was almost too much to bear. He had to turn away from the scene, and he clamped his eyes shut and tried to get the image out of his mind .

“Oh my god, ” Amy whispered, her eyes wide in horror, “There must be… over a thousand…”

I’m… not honestly sure how I feel about this passage. On one hand, it’s really kind of refreshing to see the Covenant actually being evil for once, and not just sitting around with their thumbs up their cloacae plotting nothing much. While Covenant troops usually just leave bodies where they fell in the games, I suppose if they were trying to occupy the city it would make sense for them to move all the corpses to one location for easy disposal.

On the other hand, though, we learn later on that the Covenant doesn’t intend to occupy the city, making the whole thing rather pointless, and the… ‘civvie pile’ itself presents kind of an unintentionally comical image. What I consider most damning, though, is how suddenly this one atrocity shows up completely out of the vacuum, and doesn’t really have any relevance to the rest of the story- it’s a set piece that’s giving me very strong vibes of the dead kids from Squidward’s Suicide, and that is not a good thing.

We get reactions from the rest of Alpha Team, and they’re… relatively normal, for once. Troy has to go throw up, but I’m not sure if that’s intended to make him look weak or just to demonstrate that he has some degree of empathy for his fellow sapients, so I won’t be adding to the counter just yet. I also won’t be marking their reactions for unprofessionalism, since most active-duty soldiers are lucky enough not to encounter genuine mass graves on a day-to-day basis.”

Well… with one notable exception:”

John’s anger flared, and he knew he had to get it out. Not normally did John lose control, but he did this time. He dropped his assault rifle onto the asphalt with a metallic clatter, and let out an angry growl, lunged forward, and grabbed a piece of concrete up off the ground that was bigger than any of the marines.

“GOD DAMMIT!” John screamed at the top of his lungs, and flipped around, and flung the concrete through the air as if it had been a Frisbee. It hurled through the air for about a hundred meters, and then collided with a skyscraper, smashing through glass and the metal frame, making a deafening crash.

Everyone flinched, and Amy tried to pull Renee back out of John’s way as he turned around, but she fought against her.

“John, stop it!” Renee shrieked, but his anger was so powerful; she hadn’t seen him get this angry before. John heard Renee, but he was too mad to calm down now, he realized. His anger wasn’t yet satisfied. John picked up another piece of concrete, though it was smaller, and hurled it too; yelling and screaming like a crazy man.

He bent to pick up another, but suddenly he was attacked from both sides- Kelly and James- and they both threw him up against the nearest wall.

“Stop it!” James demanded.

“John, get a hold of yourself!” Kelly sounded slightly frightened, but her voice remained serious, “Stop it before you kill someone! ”

John fought against them for a moment, but gave in, just shaking his head as the realization of what he had just done began to sink in. Renee… he could have hurt her, he could have hurt Amy, he could have hurt anyone…

Yeah, that’s…. a thing that happens.

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 72

Fucking Halight Counter: 29

What really disturbs me is not that the Master Chief appears to have suffered a complete psychotic break, but that by now this sort of thing is so common we don’t even have anything to say about it.”

At that moment, he vowed to never let his anger get a hold of him like that again.

Let’s see how long that lasts…

He heaved a big sigh, and allowed himself to slide down the wall, and he plopped down onto the ground with a dull thump, and held his head in his hands, focusing on breathing and containing the anger that was still a threat to him.

Now, my studies of neuroscience as a part of AI research are not the same thing as psychology, a discipline of which I have relatively little knowledge, but my understanding was that stable, mentally well-balanced adults typically don’t have to physically restrain themselves from smashing up an entire area to deal with their anger.

Especially since this is the Master Chief, who has seen the Covenant destroy refugee ships, fill mass graves, and otherwise be omnicidal before. And had to keep fighting regardless, not pause to throw temper-tantrums.”

He’s not even taking out his frustration on the Covenant- he’s just smashing a bunch of random scenery.

Kelly and James exchanged glances, but backed up from him, knowing he was calming down. For a while, no one spoke, until finally, Kelly turned away from everyone, and radioed into the Hercules.

“This is Kelly-087, does anyone read me?”

“Kelly, ” a smooth voice came back almost instantly, and she recognized it to be Dr. Halsey, “It’s good to hear your voice. How are things going down there?”

Why is Dr. Halsey the one asking this? She’s a valuable adviser and analyst for the UNSC, sure, but she’s not a field commander and doesn’t even really have that good of an understanding of tactics. I could maybe buy her requesting ground information if she were conducting some kind of psychological study of Covenant behavior (which she’s not, at least not that we ever see), but even then I’d imagine aggregated footage of individual Covenant engagements would be more helpful than progress reports on human tactical objectives.

“Not too good. Doctor,” Kelly answered, “We’ve just discovered a scene that isn’t too pretty, over.”

And they found a mass grave in it, too.”

“What is it?” the Captain’s voice came over the intercom now.

It’s a small thing and maybe the usage is different in Canadian English, but to me at least “intercom” referred to electronic communication systems wired into a structure, not handheld or helmet-mounted portable ones.

He sounded tired.

Well, with all the ‘coming’ he’s been doing these last few chapters, I’d imagine so.”

“Reports say that our area of Zarunai had been evacuated, right?” Kelly asked.

“Right.”

“Well that’s a theory that’s just been flushed,” Kelly frowned, “We’ve come across what must be over a thousand dead bodies. All human, sir. Men, women, children, their bodies piled high; it almost goes on for an entire city block. Clearly killed by Covenant forces . ”

She heard Thomsen curse, and it was silent for a few moments. “How’s your team doing?” he said finally.

“They’re alright, sir,” Kelly replied,

Well, the Chief’s a destructive psychopath, but that‘s nothing new…”

“A little shaken up, John especially.”

“I’m fine now,” John came into the conversation over the radio,

… Ew.

and Kelly glanced over and saw he had gotten to his feet, “Captain, sir. I want everyone, all teams, evacuated now. We were already ambushed once, lost four marines, and more were injured. This is just hell, worse than Capricornia had been, sir.”

Oh, quit your bellyaching! They don’t feed, clothe, and transport you people so that you can fight the Covenant when you feel like it. Coming across this site indicates that the evacuation of Zarunai wasn’t as complete as your intel led you to believe, and since it’s very unlikely that the Covenant managed to find everyone yet that means that in addition to apparently having a shot at stopping their advance across Lacerta here (which encountering a mass grave doesn’t really change the viability of) you now have a responsibility to find those civilians and see if you can get them out.”

Unfortunately for us, the debate gets settled pretty quickly when the Covenant starts glassing the city. That makes the whole civvie-pile thing even more pointless, but it does allow us to get a not-terrible scene as everyone tries to flee the plasma heading their way. The only really objectionable part is when the narrative claims that at top speed with no Marines slowing them down, the Spartans

could have made it back to the warthogs and back to the base camp in less than five minutes.

In-game I’m pretty sure that Marines and the Chief have exactly the same max speed (discounting the Sprint Upgrade, of course, which was kind of a silly thing to add to the series to begin with). I don’t know, maybe that’s just an engine limitation that I shouldn’t be thinking of as “real” in a non-game narrative, or they can run for a longer distance than Marines without getting tired (which would make sense), but it still feels like unnecessary Spartan-wank.

Fucking Halight Counter: 30

Also this:

“I must say, this is my first time for being in a city while it’s being glassed!” Amy shouted, glancing back over her shoulder at the city, “It’s quite the high, I must say!”

I honestly can’t tell if this dialogue is supposed to sound fakishly Victorian or not anymore.

Regardless, during the run Renee loses her helmet, falls, and hits her head, rendering herself unconscious. Which is strange, given that she’s been running around just fine without a functioning brain for the last fifteen chapters, but for once it isn’t Edward-117 who saves her when contrived circumstances render her unconscious in the middle of a firefight but Kelly.”

Fucking Halight Counter: Still 30

We continue to buck trends as Troy gets to act like a proper officer and not get censured by the narrative for once. In fact, he really comes into his own as he keeps the other Marines focused on the dicey business of treating Kilburn’s head wound in the back of a moving transport Warthog when they would otherwise be too shell-shocked to be much of any use.”

Treating her concussion with iodine and gauze, by the way…

Still.”

Oh, and apparently Fuck-Shit was in the city shadowing them the whole time, doing what he does best- ignoring easy chances to kill the Spartans so that he can radio back up to the Domination for orders. For a while it’s set up to make it look like Maloonee is going to go full-awesome-McEvil and leave him in the city while it gets glassed (which, now that I think about it, would probably be a net gain for the Covenant), but at the last minute a transport gets sent down and Fuck-Shit gets to rejoin his fellow Elites to celebrate his lack of accomplishments. Also, Rtas ‘Vadumee is there again, but just like last time he is pretty much a cameo and is able to escape relatively untainted.

Later on we do learn that Fuck-shit is in fact an Ossoona and not just a regular stealth Elite. That does explain why he never actually exploits any of the opportunities he finds to kill humans since Ossoona are supposed to avoid any sort of combat and stick to intel-gathering, but also makes it unclear why he tried to strangle Renee when he was first introduced…  since Ossoona are supposed to avoid any sort of combat and stick to intel-gathering! It also means that he should be reporting directly to the Prophets and not some random Shipmaster, making ‘Maloonee doubly useless.

We return to the humans as they near the base camp and Renee wakes up. Nobody sees a need to perform any sort of post-concussion checkup on her, and she gets right back to talking with Troy.”

“Where’s John?” she asked again, an uncomfortable expression coming on her face when she realized her head was resting on the Lieutenant’s lap.

“Jesus, he’s in the warthog ahead of us,” Troy snapped, “The big oaf is fine . ”

She glared at him, and coughed slightly, raising her hand to her forehead.

“That kind of talk is what got you that broken nose, ” she replied bitterly,

Wait, it is? And not, you know, the assault?”

Oh God, that means this whole thing was basically the kiddie version of The Kaiden Scene from When You’re Strange!

And… you know what?

Maybe it’s just because it is the kiddie version and both the infraction and punishment were in the grand scheme of things pretty minor, maybe it’s because there’s not a horribly fucked-up animalization angle here, but I really can’t get myself angry about it. Sure, it’s petty and stupid, but then again what about Renee Kilburn isn’t?

Terrible Troy Counter: 92

“Who bandaged me up?”

“I did,” Troy replied, narrowing his eyes, rubbing his nose

“Oh, well thank you, ” she said, closing her eyes slightly, “My head hurts.”

Well, it’s a good thing you so rarely use it.”

“It should,” Josh answered, “You cracked it good off the pavement, proving not wearing the buckle on your helmet costs you.”

“Shut up, ” Renee croaked, reaching up and hitting Josh in the arm slightly.

How dare he suggest she take actions that would have kept her safe…

“She’s just woken up from being unconscious and already she’s throwing punches,” Kirk observed, “Violent chick. Was she an abusive girlfriend to ya, Troy?”

Terrible Troy Counter: You have no idea…

“Nope, ” Troy answered thoughtfully, seeming happy to reminisce again, “If I recall, she was a little on the shy side and didn’t get in one single fight in school. Becoming a marine toughened her up.”

Just not very much.”

He glanced down at Renee, smirking slightly, however she glared at him in return.

“Past is the past Troy,” she said, “Realize that.”

Terrible Troy Counter: Believe me, I do. 93.

They disembark, and when it’s discovered that Renee is still too dizzy to walk to the Pelican (which, of course, doesn’t prompt anyone to even consider giving her any sort of medical evaluation), Troy decides to pick her up and carry her. I guess just letting her lean on him would’ve been too simple.”

You know, people with Alien Hand Syndrome do sometimes pick up and carry around objects without being aware that they’re doing so…

“Why does this hackeneyed theory of yours explain basically everything better than the ‘fic itself does?”

And that’s basically all of Chapter 16/Fifteen.

If it seems like I’m summarizing a lot here, it’s because, well, I am summarizing a lot. There might be something from the very early days of the Library that surpassed it before I ever came to the site, but I don’t think anything from the modern era has anywhere near as high a ratio of summarized to riffed content as Love of a Spartan. Part of it, to the story’s credit, is that there are actually passages in it that are good and don’t need critiquing. Part of it is, yes, just that the story is so damn long that if I didn’t cut large portions I’d be working on it for literally years… but there’s also the fact that so much of this story has essentially no point and just re-uses the same tropes (and sometimes the same events) as before. Even the flaws are nothing new, and when that’s the case there’s really not a lot for a riffer to do.

So, let’s just use the extra space to give the same treatment to Chapter 17/Sixteen, which is called… errm… “Treatment”:

[March 12th, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules – Lacertae System]

I’d just like to remind everyone that, according to the datestamps, all sixteen main chapters of this story, including two major military engagements and Edward-117 basically deciding to be Kilburn’s bondmate, has happened in about five days. Including the Siege of Lacerta taking less than twelve hours.”

And yet, at the same time, it feels like it’s been years.

It was a hustle in the docking bay upon Alpha team’s return. The other teams were scrambling to carry the wounded to the medical bay, put away their weapons and park the ‘Hogs and land the Pelicans along the large gaping room. The speeds of the marines differed, some rushed quickly, and others ambled along tiredly. The occasional shouts echoed through the room as the remaining officers tried to keep order- they didn’t think it was time for rest just yet.

Mostly everyone was in a bitter mood after having to relinquish yet another planet to the Covenant, and some of them didn’t listen to the orders, instead they brushed them off and headed for the quickest route to the showers, medical bay or their rooms.

John, as he took this scene in as the back hatch of their Pelican fell open, didn’t care for the lack in military discipline, and looked to Troy, who was sitting between Amy and Renee.

“What lack in military discipline? Apparently under Edward‘s idea of military conduct, it’s perfectly acceptable to threaten grievous bodily harm against a superior officer, ignore direct orders, and sleep through major combat deployments, but injured troops seeking medical attention is a court-martial offense? Should we… decrement the counter?”

Maybe add imaginary numbers to it…

His expression was a little softer than usual, but he knew the Junior Lieutenant had some anger to blow off- and helping the other officers put some lackey marines in their place would be the perfect way to do it. Troy looked into John’s helmet, as if he knew he was going to speak to him.

“Up for enforcing discipline. Lieutenant?” John asked.

A little smirk crawled out on his lips, and Troy jumped to his feet, a cocky expression coming on his dirt covered face.

“I’m awfully fuckin’ pissed, so hell yes,” He raised his eyebrows, glancing momentarily to Amy, who was glaring at him, and to Renee, who was holding her head in her hands, battling a vicious headache, then back up into John’s visor, “Take care of her, Spartan.”

And we never do figure out what the big infraction was, since the narrative field immediately closes to just Renee and Amy talking with the Chief after he and Troy… bonded?? It’s weird to see Troy being so civil to the guy who’s dragging his childhood friend into an abusive relationship, but it’s even weirder to see the Chief being civil to the guy he’s been mindlessly aggressive towards for the last ten chapters.

“I don’t want to go to the medical bay,” Renee replied, raising her head for the first time, and meeting his eyes seriously, “I just need a couple of painkillers- you’re worse than I am.”

Oh, Spirits, not this again…”

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 73

John narrowed his eyes, realizing her determination wouldn’t be easily extinguished. He knew well enough he was about to engage in a battle of the stubborn, but he decided to proceed anyway. He didn’t care for the conversation switching over to him.

“I can take it,” John basically admitted to the fact that he was indeed wounded, but he brushed off with assurance, “It’s about you, not me. You’re not augmented.”

I mean, yes, that’s true, but…

Fucking Halight Counter: 31

“I’m fine, John,” Renee pressed, “You’re not.”

“I am,” John’s voice hardened determinedly.

“No you’re not! You-“

*sigh….*”

And, mere hours after their first experience with mass civilian casualties, the Marines’ conversation has literally devolved into ‘Am not, am too’. Have I mentioned recently how much I hate these characters?”

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 74

Renee was cut off when John leaned in with a lightning fast movement and kissed her gently,

… Well, OK then? So what, is this like the LoaS version of “I have boobs, you must obey” or something?

although every urge in his body told him to shove her back against the bulkhead of the Pelican and take the kiss beyond the sweet innocence it was currently at, but two negatives came into play. Number one, Amy was right there,

Amy Smythe’s existence is always a negative. Unless you’re Fuck-shit, of course.

and number two, Renee had a killing headache, and probably wouldn’t enjoy being shoved around.

Implying that she would enjoy that sort of thing if she was well.”

Although, to her credit, her reaction to Troy’s episode earlier gives no such indication…

Still, it’s going on the counter:”

Fucking Halight Counter: 32

He pulled back after a few seconds, and Renee looked a little dazed, her determination burning not so fiercely now in her eyes. John heard Amy stifle a laugh and mutter something to herself, but he didn’t take his eyes off Renee.

“I am,” he whispered, “And I win that argument.”

I really don’t think that’s how it works.”

“I’m not giving up that easily,” Renee raised an eyebrow, although her voice was softer now, “It’ll take a little bit more than that to change my mind. In fact, I’m not quite sure I will change it . ”

Really?” John copied her with the raised eyebrow. He smirked mischievously and looked like he was going to continue, but Amy waved her hand between their two faces, which were drawing closer again. They both looked to Amy instantly. John looked particularly annoyed .

I never thought I’d be saying this, but thank the spirits for Amy Smythe!”

Also, you’re still being puerile idiots.

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 75

“Sorry to interrupt your argument, ” Amy said, “Which may I add, for the last few sentences, it was filled with innuendo anyway,

Umm… no, not really?”

Doesn’t really hold a candle to any of the dream sequences, actually.

And here at the Library, we know our innuendos.”

I’ve got a suggestion for you two. Why don’t the both of you just admit you’re injured and go to the medical bay together!”

That’s… the smartest thing anyone’s said in the last two chapters. And that fact terrifies me.

So, they decide to do that. And, of course, Renee gets carried again despite being perfectly able to walk under her own power. Somehow, this is due to Troy not having bandaged the minor plasma burn (cut… thing) on her arm. At this point, they should just fit her armor with a couple of easy-to-reach handles and call it a day.”

Fucking Halight Counter: 33

Terrible Troy Counter: 94

Now that she was in his arms, she knew she was like a tiger in a cage. There was no escaping. John’s arms were holding her tightly but not too tight. She was well enough aware that with the same arms he had snapped necks, broke bones and crushed organs. It was an almost creepy feeling that made a chill run down her spine.

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb. *gags*”

More like the lion fell in love with the lame

Fucking Halight Counter: 34

This reminded Renee of the first time John had carried her, when she had fractured her rib.

“It does seem to happen with a peculiar regularity around here, doesn’t it?”

It had only been a short time ago, but to her, it seemed like it had been years .

Time always seemed to pass slowly in space.

No, that’s just the peculiar dilating effect of the ‘fic’s simultaneously sclerotic and hyperactive pacing.”

Seriously, I would never have believed that you could cram so much nothing into just a few days of narrative time.

So they get to the medical bay, and surprisingly enough there are actually soldiers in there in various states of injury. Renee of course is selected for treatment immediately, although since she has a concussive head injury and could theoretically drop over dead with no other warning unless scans are made to ensure she’s alright it’s actually more justified than usual.”

Then Edward decides to just up and leave without being treated. Renee tries to stop him, but it’s not like he actually cares what she thinks or anything.

Fucking Halight Counter: 35

I am really not sure why he’s so dead-set on avoiding any sort of medical treatment to begin with, but it does make me realize that the docs might not actually have a way to get his armor off, meaning that he’d have to stop by the armory before this would even become an issue.

Anyway, it becomes a moot point as he and Troy Fisher (for some reason) are summoned to the bridge. What follows is a senior-officers’ meeting that’s just as pointless and circular as anything from the Half-Jaw oeuvre:”

John and Troy marched onto the bridge, both still donning their battle armor- John’s being a lot more bloodied and dirtied up than Troy’s.

Of course it is- because how dare the proper soldier get to do anything worthwhile?”

Terrible Troy Counter: 95

I think the Chief just really needs to work on keeping his equipment clean- remember the Elite-blood incident from Chapter Five?

Terrible Troy Counter: Good point!

The Master Chief and the Lieutenant, despite their quarrel earlier that had taken place here, both stopped in front of Thomsen and Dr. Halsey and saluted crisply at the exact same time, Troy’s face almost as maturely serious as John’s.

That might just be because Troy came across a mass grave not two hours ago, and unlike Edward-117 is not a sociopath!”

“Sir, Ma’am,” they both said in sync.

And I still can’t decide if that’s inappropriately hilarious, or inappropriately creepy.

For what reason they had both been called here they were not sure of. As they stood at straight attention, still saluting. Dr. Halsey and Thomsen exchanged musing glances that neither John, nor Troy was sure of.

So, what I’m getting from this passage is that they weren’t sure of something. Am I getting any warmer?”

Repetitious phrasing is repetitious.

So they rehash the fact that Lacerta Colony is now on fire. Troy thinks they arrived too late and didn’t have a large enough ground presence, which considering that they arrived when half the planet was already glassed and sent down only eight Pelicans’ worth of Marines to defend the whole thing I would say is a fairly reasonable conclusion.

The Captain, for some reason, treats this information as though it were somehow not glaringly obvious, although considering that he’s called up a Junior Lieutenant to provide a comprehensive analysis of the entire ground operation it’s probably more tactical sense than the bridge has seen in a long, long time.”

Thomsen asks what happened to Troy’s nose- I guess he somehow senses that it’s not a combat injury or something- and Troy claims that it was

“A foolish accident, sir,”

Ok, not sure when Troy suddenly became a Bond henchman, but you know what? I’m willing to roll with it.

That aside, he also says that he broke it when he slipped while boarding the transport that morning, which is about the worst excuse he could possibly fabricate- not only would there have been other Marines around the landing area who saw him get on the Pelican without falling down, but someone had to treat his actual injury before he ever reported to the landing bay since it was already bandaged when he did!”

Also, we get this stupidly glowing message from Kelly about the day’s events, which Dr. Halsey reads out like she’s Thomsen’s personal assistant or something:

“John brilliantly led James, myself and the marines he was teamed with into battle with the usual bravery and diligence he’s known for. Even after going through a Pelican crash, he never faltered.

Maybe that’s because it was a low-speed controlled descent with zero serious injuries!

Also, he was technically never in the crash part.”

Despite losing the battle, James and I enjoyed being teamed with him, and hopefully look forward to being with him again sometime soon. Kelly, ” Dr. Halsey read, and raised her eyebrow thoughtfully at him, “Good work.”

Well, she sort of left out the part where four Marines were killed in the Covenant ambush he lead you all directly into

Troy, for some reason, decides to explain the whole Skydiving Incident to the bridge staff. Edward, for some other even more arcane reason, gets angry at him for doing so. Now that I think about it, that and arousal are pretty much his only emotional states.”

Halsey suspects that he might be injured, and he keeps on hiding that fact for absolutely no reason at all, and we learn that in addition to the four guys the Chief got killed, three other Marines died during the fighting in Zarunai- one of them, in fact, was a person called “Lieutenant Boudreau”.

“Boudreau?” Troy instantly looked bewildered, and searched for something else to say, but he couldn’t come up with anything, so he just lowered his head in respect, his face saddening. It was almost surprising to see a different emotion on his face.

Lieutenant Boudreau, John had noticed, had acted as Troy’s mentor.

And he knows this… how, exactly?

Being a full Lieutenant, he always seemed to have Troy under his wing and be offering him advice and tips. He had seen them on several occasions talking to each other.

We know basically nothing about him, and I already like this Boudreau guy better than any of the main cast.

“I’m sorry,” Thomsen said solemnly, resting his hand on Troy’s shoulder, “I know what he meant to you.

Sure, but we don’t, seeing as this is the first time the man’s been mentioned…”

He’ll be missed.”

Oh, we missed him all right…

Troy just nodded, keeping his eyes locked on the floor. It was silent on the bridge for a moment, and John felt sorry for Troy as well. He knew well enough what it was like to lose a fellow comrade. He had lost Sam, back when he was fourteen, and the blow had affected all of the Spartans.

And, of course, our friend the Chief has to find some way to make this moment all about him.”

They talk about the memorial service, and Kiera claims that Bordeau was in fact Troy’s instructor all throughout his training which doesn’t seem right to me considering that I always thought instructors were officers who did that as a job and didn’t actually go into combat, but whatever.

Then Edward leaves, too, and goes to the armory to get out of his armor. The technicians there also try to get him to seek medical attention, and apparently he actually has visible ‘wounds’ somewhere on his legs for them to notice, but since the narrative still won’t describe what they actually look like we can’t provide any concrete analysis from up here.”

Whatever his condition is, he still refuses to actually do anything about it and just runs off to get a quick shower, where the same gawking and staring process pretty much repeats verbatim.

He rubbed his face, and could feel the slight prickles of facial hair, but ultimately sacrificed his shower and shave and left. He would go there tonight, when no one would be there, when there would be no one to gawk at his wounds.

Seriously, what the actual fuck? Why is he so hell-bent on hiding injuries that, at their absolute worst, could still be at least temporarily stabilized with biofoam? That stuff can hold shattered fucking bones together with no problem, assuming he’s able to walk at all it should get him back into fighting shape.

Now, he decided to go to his room. He would check back on Renee a little later and maybe go to the cafeteria. He was starving, but his tiredness overwhelmed that, so he double timed it to his room, and felt relief when the doors hissed closed behind him and he could be alone. It was his own sanctuary.

Remind me again of the exact location of the part was in Halo canon where the Master Chief went through an emo phase…

Halo 4?

That doesn’t count.”

Halo 5, then!

“You know what I meant!”

Fucking Halight Counter: 36

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 76

John let out a sigh, and removed his shirt, and tossed it on the bed and then sat down, looking down at himself.

Bow chicka bow wow?

You’re not even trying any more.”

It made him wince, his chest was covered in bruises, and they stood out against his pale complexion. Right around his solar plexus, the skin was tender and swollen, and a sickly color of reddish purple.

Oh goodie gumdrops, more bruising porn.

Seriously. I don’t understand the point of that at all.

A couple of prods informed John that he easily had two broken ribs.

The moment he touched the area, pain shot through his chest and made him suck in a breath of air and clench his teeth. Eventually the pain passed. He had had worse. No doubt this injury was from that kick he received from the Elite. They had hooves like horses, although the kick was even more powerful. He had no doubt that if that same thing had happened to a marine, it would have shattered their entire ribcage and the broken bones would have pierced the vital organs.

You know that’s still a possibility with you, right Chiefy? Your augmentations made your bones tougher, but once they’re broken there’s nothing stopping them from finding a nice new home in the middle of one of your lungs.

In fact, since he was coughing up blood before, and no more innocuous cause for that has been given, this has probably already happened.”

His arms were covered with bruises as well, and by the tenderness of his legs, they were too. John hadn’t a good chance to look at his feet when he had dressed- those were the things that were causing his injury to be the most obvious- and he took off his size fifteen shoes and peeled off his socks.

Remind me again why we care about the Master Chief’s shoe size?

Oh, that’s right, we don’t.

Both of his feet were swollen and bruised, his ankles had swollen to nearly the size of his upper forearms.

… ick.

That’s why he had been limping, it was no mystery now.

The human foot contained twenty six little bones, and John didn’t have to be a doctor to figure out he must have screwed up a fair lot of them. His left foot was particularly sore, and it hurt to move it- he couldn’t even curl his toes. His guess was that a torn Achilles tendon came into play there.

…”

Terrible Troy Counter: …

You know these are the type of injuries that, if left untreated, can get worse? He’s broken multiple bones in his feet, to the point where he can’t move his toes, and torn one of his tendons. UNSC medicine would probably be able to get him back into fighting shape if he were to actually avail himself of it, but as it stands more combat engagements while he’s like this are just going to aggravate the problems.

For a moment, he reminded himself to never jump out of a Pelican again, but then he thought, if he hadn’t jumped today, Renee would be dead.

I’m still not seeing any sort of downside here.”

John changed his opinion immediately. He’d jump a thousand feet to try and save her.

Yeah! How about you just go ahead and do that.

He knew that thought was ridiculous, but he knew Renee wasn’t a Spartan, and it had been proved well enough already, that if he had never met her, she’d be long dead by now. It was his own personal mission, he decided, to keep her alive.

Because apparently “save all of humanity” wasn’t challenging enough.

Death was something; John knew well enough, that could be prevented, although it was also fate. When it came your time to die, nothing would be able to save you. You would just die. When Renee had fallen, it hadn’t been her time to die, and he had saved her.

Well… OK then!

I think this is one of those passages that actually makes negative sense.”

John made a mental decision that he would never let her die, ever.

Because apparently the Master Chief can confer immortality now!

Wait…

Fucking Halight Counter: 37!

Even if it meant jumping in front of a plasma bolt, getting in the way of a grenade, or taking the bone-shattering blow from a Hunter, even if it meant his own death.

please…”

So, Renee shows up, and the Chief asks what she’s doing out of Medical so soon.

“They redressed my forehead, ” Renee explained, putting her hand up to the fresh new bandage, “Gave me painkillers, and treated the burn on my arm, but wanted to do further tests and x-rays, but I knew I was fine, so I left.”

Dumbass.

John at first, had the right mind to tell her to go back there, but something about her attitude made him smirk. She was as stubborn as he was.

When he didn’t reply, she continued:

“I thought I’d come and check on you- and I brought this,” Renee held up a first aid kit, and smirked a little, “Snatched it off the wall when no one was looking.”

Because fuck the informed provisioning of resources!

John smiled, appreciative of her kindness. He didn’t want to be seen by any doctors, but to be cared for by Renee, well, he couldn’t really object to it.

For… some reason.”

I don’t know about the Chief here, but I’d actually prefer to have the people sticking needles in me to have some sort of… you know, training in medicine

And, to nobody’s real surprise, she decides to treat his broken ribs with- what else?- iodine and gauze!”

She blushed momentarily, realizing the suggestive position, but John didn’t get it.

“What suggestive position? She’s just leaning over his chest.”

“This might hurt, ” she announced.

“Bring it on,” he answered, “Nothing I can’t handle.”

She tenderly placed the piece of iodine soaked gauze over the gaping laceration on the middle of his chest.

Because apparently he has one of those now, too.

From an Elite’s kick. Through armor.”

John let out a little hiss and clenched his teeth, but he had most definitely felt worse pain than that.

“Sorry, ” she whispered apologetically, and then she grabbed the roll of bandages and began wrapping them around his chest. His chest was so wide around; it reminded her of a tree trunk. She had to lean over really far, so her cheek touched his pecs.

I’m not sure the positioning of that even works.

She blushed, but didn’t say anything, but couldn’t help but notice that it didn’t feel like muscle, it felt like stone.

Motherfucking Halight Counter: 38

She lifted her face away and wrapped it around again, and again.

She wrapped her face around his chest?”

*quietly resets the “[X] Days Without A Visit From The SCP Foundation” sign to 0 again*

So, Amy walks in on them and freaks the fuck out.

“Oh. My. God.” Amy breathed, not turning around, “When I told you to try and make John feel better, I didn’t mean in that way!”

In… what way, exactly?”

She’s kneeling over him wrapping clearly visible bandages around his chest. Unless Edward has a Munchhausen’s Syndrome fetish, I really can’t see how that’d be doing anything for him.

Renee’s mouth fell open, realizing immediately what her friend was thinking. She had came in the room, to only see her kneeling on the floor between John’s legs…

Wait, what was she doing between his legs if she was working on his chest? How exactly are these people contorted, anyway?

*quietly sets the “[X] Days Without A Visit From The SCP Foundation” sign to -1*

So, after that bit of contrived nonsense, Amy figures out what was actually going on and… leaves.”

she pursed her lips, and winked at Renee and said lowly, “Big hands, big feet, you do the math.”

Oh, and also, she says that.

Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 77

She trailed off, and a smile came on her face.

I… didn’t know that the ambulatory smile had the capability to do that.

It was a happier time for us all.

Now don’t you just feel so much more enlightened about the universe in general now that that scene has run its course?”

Edward doesn’t get what all the fuss was about (and for possibly the only time in the history of Love of a Spartan, I can empathize with him).

After that… cuddling ensues again, and they fall asleep together to end Chapter 17/Sixteen. *GAG.*

Come back next time to see Troy Fisher well and truly fuck up.

 

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22 Comments on “1644: Love of a Spartan – Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen”

  1. BatJamags says:

    ‘Lacerta’s Fall’

    I don’t think it would be one season across the entire plan-

    Oh, I get it. It’s subtle foreshadowing.

  2. BatJamags says:

    “GOD DAMMIT!” John screamed at the top of his lungs, and flipped around, and flung the concrete through the air as if it had been a Frisbee. It hurled through the air for about a hundred meters, and then collided with a skyscraper, smashing through glass and the metal frame, making a deafening crash.

    HULK SMASH PUNY COVENANT!

    This joke brought to you by: story ideas more interesting than this one.

  3. BatJamags says:

    “John, stop it!” Renee shrieked, but his anger was so powerful; she hadn’t seen him get this angry before. John heard Renee, but he was too mad to calm down now, he realized. His anger wasn’t yet satisfied. John picked up another piece of concrete, though it was smaller, and hurled it too; yelling and screaming like a crazy man.

    I’m only vaguely familiar with the books through wiki browsing, but as far as the games go, John almost always keeps a cool head. If anything, his issue is that he doesn’t express what he’s thinking, not that he lashes out like this.

    Also, I love how he’s yelling and screaming “like” a crazy man, where “like” = “because he is.”

  4. BatJamags says:

    stable, mentally well-balanced adults typically don’t have to physically restrain themselves from smashing up an entire area to deal with their anger.

    I mean, breaking stuff is cathartic for some people, but that’s more of an “it helps if you do it” than a “do it without being able to control yourself.”

  5. BatJamags says:

    Why is Dr. Halsey the one asking this? She’s a valuable adviser and analyst for the UNSC, sure, but she’s not a field commander and doesn’t even really have that good of an understanding of tactics. I could maybe buy her requesting ground information if she were conducting some kind of psychological study of Covenant behavior (which she’s not, at least not that we ever see), but even then I’d imagine aggregated footage of individual Covenant engagements would be more helpful than progress reports on human tactical objectives.

    Because the UNSC has fifteen people in it, and there’s no one who isn’t a named character.

  6. BatJamags says:

    and Kelly glanced over and saw he had gotten to his feet, “Captain, sir. I want everyone, all teams, evacuated now. We were already ambushed once, lost four marines, and more were injured. This is just hell, worse than Capricornia had been, sir.”

    Ambushes are a common tactic, four is not an especially large number, and “more” isn’t a number at all. If this is worse than Capricornia, I don’t understand how you even lost at all there.

  7. BatJamags says:

    If it seems like I’m summarizing a lot here, it’s because, well, I am summarizing a lot. There might be something from the very early days of the Library that surpassed it before I ever came to the site, but I don’t think anything from the modern era has anywhere near as high a ratio of summarized to riffed content as Love of a Spartan.

    At one point I went back to read the first riff on here, and it was mostly summarized, set up more like a review than a riff. I’m not sure how long that format lasted, but there must’ve been at least a couple.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Yeah, the early riffs (up through the first two hundred or so, possibly more) summarize a lot. I’m not really sure why, or more accurately why the Library eventually decided to move away from that format.

      • TacoMagic says:

        It was mostly because the fics got worse and we found more to tear apart at granularity; it’s also around the time riffs went from 500-1000 words to the 3000-7000 word range. I think the big shift happened for me during when I was doing zombie chronicels.

        I’ve been considering adding in a lot more paraphrasing with my current project, but it keeps ending up with the same paraphrasing of “they stand there talking” each time and that feels even less interesting than picking apart what’s there.

    • GhostCat says:

      For me it depends on the fic; if the fic is long and rambling, or just completely incoherent :coughKDVScough: then I do a lot of summarizing but for shorter works there isn’t really any reason to.

  8. BatJamags says:

    “I’m fine, John,” Renee pressed, “You’re not.”

    “I am,” John’s voice hardened determinedly.

    “No you’re not! You-“

    Edward-117: Nuh-uh! Am too!

    Renee: Are not!

    Edward-117:

  9. BatJamags says:

    Amy Smythe’s existence is always a negative. Unless you’re Fuck-shit, of course.

    AmyXFuck-shit OTP!

  10. BatJamags says:

    More like the lion fell in love with the lame

  11. TacoMagic says:

    Come back next time to see Troy Fisher well and truly fuck up.

    I take it that means the author finally decided to go all-in on the character assassination she’s been building up for him? Yay and stuff.

  12. Leider Hosen says:

    !!!Warning, completely not-angry but nonetheless opinionated wall o’ text incoming!!!

    On the other hand, though, we learn later on that the Covenant doesn’t intend to occupy the city, making the whole thing rather pointless, and the… ‘civvie pile’ itself presents kind of an unintentionally comical image. What I consider most damning, though, is how suddenly this one atrocity shows up completely out of the vacuum, and doesn’t really have any relevance to the rest of the story- it’s a set piece that’s giving me very strong vibes of the dead kids from Squidward’s Suicide, and that is not a good thing.

    That’s something I notice is pretty common, even a work like this where it’s poorly written but the author is obviously competent and could easily salvage the work with some time and care. Shock imagery only really serves a purpose if it has consequences, it’s the aftershocks of the shocking thing that really give the imagery meaning. Sure, it can illicit a “teh horror!” from the audience for a little bit, but what will keep them thinking in the long run is how the characters in-universe react.

    A proper shocking moment is a moment where something is so unexpected (which doesn’t apply here since they are soldiers) and traumatizing happens it changes the way the characters behave, even if it’s for only one arc. Suffice to say, for proper respect, the more severe the subject matter is the more aftereffects and the longer it should take to recover, if ever.

    In my new novel series, without going into detail, in a world that is fairly tame since it takes place in our own Earth there is a massive plot twist that happens so long after it was vaguely foreshadowed the audience will have forgotten it was ever foreshadowed in the first place. The arc it opens is as dark as it gets, and is horrifying beyond anything shown thus far. It wraps up with the classic “the friend saves the day in the nick of time”, but the arc never really ends because everyone touched by this event has been changed in some way. It goes from being a shock moment to being a very distinct moment in time where the entire series flies off the rails and has to get itself back on track, but really can’t because things are fundamentally different now, you cannot put something that grim completely in the past.

    I feel that really applies here. This really had the potential to be a turning point. Think about it: Troy could blame his team for being incompetent and himself for not leading them better, and Amy and Renee could wake the fuck up and realize there are more important things than boyfriend drama. Hell, maybe they could even start to listen to Troy and realize why he’s being so overbearing, and take his discipline more seriously. Edward-117 would then get jealous of Terrible Troy getting more of Renee’s attention, and she would rightfully smack him upside the head and tell him that she’s had a change of heart and wants to inform him that she finally gets what he’s been saying.

    A good plot writes itself, going places not even the author expected. One thing leads to another to reach a rational, reasonable conclusion based on the character’s motivations and personality, and the context of the setting. It’s always great to see moments that initiate a great change and in turn cause great impact on the story to shake it up and break the standard formula. I’m really glad to hear the author of this accepted that she didn’t write the story she wanted to and is trying again, maybe this time around we’ll see more moments like this written to their full potential.

  13. Leider Hosen says:

    “Later on we do learn that Fuck-shit is in fact an Ossoona and not just a regular stealth Elite. That does explain why he never actually exploits any of the opportunities he finds to kill humans since Ossoona are supposed to avoid any sort of combat and stick to intel-gathering, but also makes it unclear why he tried to strangle Renee when he was first introduced… since Ossoona are supposed to avoid any sort of combat and stick to intel-gathering! It also means that he should be reporting directly to the Prophets and not some random Shipmaster, making ‘Maloonee doubly useless.

    It’s now my headcannon that Fuck-Shit was so useless, the Covenant demoted him to a petty scout, but didn’t have the heart to tell him and are really just sending him on pointless scouting missions with no expectation of him coming back to keep him out of their hair and make him feel important.

    This is setting up Fuck-Shit to abandon the Covenant with no consequence to begin his hawt affair with Amy.

    #AmyxFuck-ShitOTP

    • AmyXFuckShitOTP says:

      Y’know in all seriousness I always did feel a little wary about pushing the AmyXFuckShit angle even jokingly

      …Cuz of stuff like that mass grave outta nowhere

      But that spin on it makes it a bit easier to embrace fully

      Makes sense too, given what’s been shown so far

      So yah, ship it, shipmaster

  14. Leider Hosen says:

    There might be something from the very early days of the Library that surpassed it before I ever came to the site, but I don’t think anything from the modern era has anywhere near as high a ratio of summarized to riffed content as Love of a Spartan. Part of it, to the story’s credit, is that there are actually passages in it that are good and don’t need critiquing.

    I agree. I think this story really is more a matter of the author lacking maturity and experience, which kept her from realizing her full potential, than her lacking skill. I think she has the writer’s gift, she just started a little too early, which I think a lot of people can understand. The fact she’s admitted she wrote a Badfic and is doing a full rewrite is a very good sign of things to come from her.

    …And reminds me of how The Savior is the polar opposite, where there are pages long of Riff and exposition per paragraph because the Badfic is so abysmally shit it takes that long to fully cover it.

  15. Leider Hosen says:

    So to recap: the main character was told off by his girlfriend when he was trying to give her first aid, was threatened with violence by her psychotic boyfriend for telling the truth, took personal responsibility for the fall of Lacerta due to insufficient manpower… and after that he was told his fucking mentor died in vain in the doomed battle for Lacerta!?

    Troy is legitimately making me sympathetic. Maybe next chapter-

    Come back next time to see Troy Fisher well and truly fuck up.

    …No! You want to break my will, B U T I T R E F U S E D…. Troy is a perfect angel and hell or high water he can do no rong! Nee!

  16. agigabyte says:

    “And here at the Library, we know our innuendos.”

    *A note appears on the arm of Cain’s chair on the bridge of the Mystic

    *Cain reads the note, then Retcons it away*

    Cain: I’m not reading Goddess’ parsing of that sentence and transformation of it into an innuendo aloud.


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