1668: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Twenty-OnePosted: January 26, 2017
Hello hello, all you patrons!
Last time on Love of a Spartan, we witnessed the exciting conclusion of the whole “Amy’s kissing advice” plot thread, as Edward and Renee asymptotically approached a sex scene without actually having one. This resulted in a whole bunch of angsting, Edward maybe having actual character development and trying to improve on his horrible behavior, and a massive hullaballoo about one single condom. Then the Chief received orders to leave the Hercules for a very important operation with a rally point at Reach, and Renee immediately developed severed depressive symptoms over his departure.
Terrible Troy Counter: 101
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 100
Fucking Halight Counter: 47
“In keeping with our theme of malingering over Edward’s departure, chapter 21/Twenty is called ‘Separation’… and we’ve got a bit of a treat for you today! In order to show you just how much nothing has accumulated in this monstrosity, we will be riffing the entire chapter without cutting any content whatsoever.
Which, now that I think about it, really isn’t much of a ‘treat’ for anyone.”
But we’ll do it anyway, because somebody has to suffer through this padding alongside the two of us.
[March 13th, 2535 – Halcyon Class Hercules – Epsilon Eridani System, Fleetcom Sector One – En Route to Reach]
John said nothing as the technicians helped him into his MJOLNIR armor. As it was assembled, piece by piece of green titanium alloy, encasing his body like a shell, he stood absolutely still and only moved when it was needed. He felt comfortable in his armor, but even that small amount of comfort wasn’t able to ease his worry and upset.
He didn’t want to leave Renee, but he knew he had to; there was no choice in the matter. Orders were orders, and as a Spartan and member of the UNSC, orders had to be followed, no questions asked, no hesitations, no objections.
He exhaled deeply as one of the technicians lastly handed him his helmet. He took it, momentarily hesitating. Slowly, he raised it and put it on and the suit pressurized with a hiss. His face was masked with the mirrored visor, and instantly, John felt that he could rightly feel his emotions now. No one would see, no one would know whether there was a smile or a frown or a glare or a glance behind his visor. He was in his own private place now, behind his helmet; he was once again the faceless super soldier everyone knew him to be.
Oh, goodie! Mask porn!
To be honest, I was kind of expecting it to show up here sooner or later, and am kind of surprised that it took this long.
“Then again, everything in this story takes longer than it should.”
No longer John who mingled with the two female corporals, he was Master Chief now, a Spartan, whose job was to kill. Instantly, he felt that other John disappear with his face.
“… and good riddance.”
With a blur, John snatched up his knapsack off a nearby table, hoisted it over his shoulder with little effort, and left the armory in three long strides. His armored boots thudded on the floor as he walked, down the hallway towards what felt like hell.
So, in other words, towards more Love of a Spartan
With each step, he knew he was going further away from what life he had become strangely accustomed to in this short time aboard the Hercules, back to his old life, which had existed flawlessly before he had ever laid eyes on Renee.
Now he understood what a complex and utterly confusing emotion love could be. Of course he felt feelings of strong and unfathomable love towards the spunky female marine,
… could that description possibly be more awkward?!
but at the same time, he could easily carry feelings of annoyance,
Which is strange, because we all ended up way beyond mere ‘annoyance’ way back in Chapter Four.
for she had- probably unbeknownst to her – vexed him and reeled him in as if he wasn’t a Spartan trained professionally to exercise little or no emotion, but instead as if he were a common civilian, a young man fresh out of the constricting grasps of high school,
The. Constricting. Grasps. Of. High School.
“This story clearly hasn’t made it out of high school, constricting or otherwise.”
eager to experience life and love, oblivious to the war and living carefree without its existence being little or no hindrance to his everyday schedule.
“So, basically, ignoring the Covenant threat until it’s right on top of you.”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 101
Love be damned, he had acted exactly like the second option whenever he was around Renee, although foolishly enough, a common civilian male would probably have more experience in the field of love- not to mention in the ways of natural everyday conversation.
Nobody in this thing has experience in the ways of natural everyday conversation.
It was ridiculous, and unprofessional, but John was conflicted. When he was around Renee, he enjoyed who he was; he enjoyed the feelings, the swelling of pride in his chest when he held her hand in his own,
and the electric shock that seemed to course through him when his lips touched hers. Honestly, he believed he enjoyed this more than being out on the battlefield pumping aliens full of lead.
“We, of course, can’t say the same.”
Yes, now that he thought about it, he would easily choose his carefree life with Renee and Amy over that, but only if it were possible- it wasn’t so.
Only in his dreams would it be, in his mind, never to see the light of reality. Reality was cold and bitter compared to the nostalgic few days of romance he longed to make into an everyday thing. Reality was guns, war, bloodshed, murder, entire human colonies being wiped out in record time- it was sad but true.
John knew nothing else, he never had. Memories of life on his home world had been minute, and only succeeded to become less and less with each passing day, becoming obscured- as if he was losing his vision. The memories became choppy, pieces were forgotten. It was comparable to have several different puzzles being upended on the floor, to have half the pieces taken away, and then John being told to try and make sense of it, try and form them into their original state. It wasn’t possible. Ever since he could remember, reality had been hard training, a gun in his hand, obstacle courses, and classroom teachings with the AI Deja . To think his life could be anything else but fighting was foolish, distant, unrealistic, and impossible. Having to leave this sheltered temporary life aboard the Hercules was exact proof of that.
If he had been able to resist and control his feelings, he would have never allowed himself to develop a relationship with Renee, a friendship with Amy. He should have never known what it was like to love. Now he knew why love was almost a forbidden subject amongst the Spartans. If they didn’t know love, they couldn’t miss it. John couldn’t help but feel that he had broken a golden rule- and thus, created a hellish consequence, that its vibes affected all who he allowed to get involved. It had been paradise, for a short, bittersweet time. Now fate had come along and turned the tables and let loose reality, which swore to wreak havoc to those foolish enough to allow themselves to get lost in this fairytale of a life.
If only, he hadn’t been so vulnerable…
SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!!!
John reached the docking bay,
“It only took you about 500 words…”
his mind almost smoking with his heavy brooding.
Fucking Halight Counter: 48
The seriousness of his thoughts aided his composure, he mimicked his thoughts and allowed their miserable effects to take their toll on his expression- only minimally, of course. If he had set free the true nature of the expression, John feared that it might have been another repeat of his concrete throwing extravaganza – despite it wouldn’t be concrete he’d be throwing. The nearest victims were several warthogs, which he – if he wanted to – could easily make use of in the recipe for disaster. He mentally decided, though, that there would be no more outbursts like that.
As opposed to… what, exactly? Physically deciding it?
Not here, not ever again.
By now, John was halfway across the docking bay, heading in the general direction of his awaiting Pelican. Dr. Halsey and Thomsen were there, standing by it, waiting for him. He reached them quickly and saluted, but said nothing.
Thomsen returned the salute, smiling unsurely at John’s silence, but he extended his hand anyway. John took it in a firm grip and shook politely .
“It’s been an honor having you with us, 117,” Thomsen declared, “I’ll miss both your and Catherine’s company.”
“Why are Thomsen and Dr. Halsey on a first-name basis?
I for one do not like the implications.”
Why is Edward being referred to by just his number and not his full designation code Sierra-117?
He looked to Dr. Halsey, “It’ll feel lonely on the bridge now with just Keira there. Doctor.”
Dr. Halsey smiled, brushing a piece of grey-streaked hair from her eyes .
“I’m sure we’ll meet again sometime. Captain,” she said optimistically, and she glanced to John’s mirrored visor, and wasn’t completely satisfied by only finding her own reflection in it. She had grown accustomed to seeing him without his armor in the short time aboard the Hercules.
“For certain!” Thomsen answered, his optimism irking on John’s nerves.
Can this get any more awkward?
He personally knew that the possibilities of him ever being on this cruiser again were slim, if the possibility even existed.
John was somewhat surprised by his own negativity, but it was to be expected in this equally negative situation.
Dr. Halsey looked from John’s visor to the Pelican waiting for them .
“Are you ready?” she asked him.
“Yes, ma’am,” John barked, almost without thinking. As ready as I’ll ever be, he mentally added. Dr. Halsey nodded, but she frowned, but turned and headed towards the Pelican, finding that there weren’t any more words that could be said. With the help of Thomsen, she got into the back compartment, and collapsed into the closest seat, buckling herself in. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about the Doctor falling out of any Pelicans, John noted with dull amusement.
Yeah, because Dr. Halsey at least still has two fucking brain cells to rub together.
John took a few steps forward, but hesitated. He glanced back over his shoulder at the entrance to the docking bay. With his eyes still locked on the door, he stepped up into the Pelican apartment,
The Pelican… apartment?
Is the Chief seriously so pampered now that they actually set up another full luxury suite for him inside the dropship?
but didn’t sit. He turned around fully to face the docking bay entrance, in which Thomsen was now crossing the large room towards to make his exit .
There was a rush of air as the Pelican’s thrusters came on, and they came up into the compartment and whipped around Dr. Halsey’s hair.
Ok, aerospace is definitely not my field, but I’m fairly certain that the proper location for thrusters is outside of a craft, and not in the pressurized section orbiting the passengers’ heads.
She tried her best to hold it in place but it flew everywhere, and she scowled.
John felt the Pelican rise several inches from the floor, and felt a surge of urgency and panic. He had told Renee and Amy to-
At that exact moment, he saw Renee, followed by Amy, come running into the room.
They paused, and then they spotted the Pelican, and John, and started waving frantically. From here, John could tell that Renee had been crying.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 102
He raised a gloved hand, and waved back, slowly. Renee kept waving as the Pelican’s back hatch began to close. Just before it closed completely, John swiped her a Spartan smile, despite his lump in his throat.
You know, as romance-story farewells go, this really isn’t that terrible- in fact, it’s relatively restrained.
“Let’s see how Space Twilight manages to ruin it.”
The hatch closed with a dull thud, cutting off his view of Renee. The compartment was engulfed in darkness, but the red lights snapped on almost instantly.
John lowered his head, savoring the memory of Renee in his mind, waving to him. That was going to be the last time he would see her for a very long time. Hell, he didn’t even know if he’d ever see her again. Softly, he felt Dr. Halsey touch his hand, and he turned to look at her, and she guided him down to sit beside her, although they didn’t exchange even a word.
Guilt was written all over Halsey’s face. She frowned, and couldn’t bear to look at John, even though she couldn’t see his expression, she knew what he would be feeling. She felt that once again, she was taking John away from something that meant a lot to him. First, it had been his family and his home, and now she was taking him away from the person he loved.
Ahh, there we go. Angst, angst, angst.
Renee watched the docking bay doors open and the Pelican zoom out into space.
She was blasted out as the room depressurized and immediately died sucking on hard vacuum.
She watched it as it flew away, towards the bright surface of Reach. The doors closed, and she felt her vision blur with tears, and the realization really began to hit her. John was gone .
Amy looked to her, and saw that she was crying again, the tears falling freely down her cheeks as if each eye were a waterfall .
Yeah, decompression will do that.
“Don’t cry!” Amy encouraged immediately, placing a hand on her shoulder, “You’ll see him again. I know you will.”
Renee didn’t even realize she had been crying until Amy told her. She reached up and wiped at the tears that were running down her cheeks, feeling angry at herself for allowing herself to cry. She sighed, but didn’t have any energy to try and make them stop.
As her tears continued to fall, Renee made no sound. Amy tried her best at trying to consol her friend, although she knew that it wouldn’t do much good. She’d miss John, too.
“Us, on the other hand…”
“This really sucks,” Amy told her,
What, the pacing?
“I’d just like to reiterate that the entire chapter up to this point has been almost completely unnecessary- essentially the only thing it’s told us is that Edward and Renee are sad to be separated, and the end of last chapter was entirely dedicated to telling us the exact same thing! In fact, if we just included that scene where they exchange farewells as the Pelican lifts off, the end of last chapter would be unnecessary too! And Kilburn would even come out of things looking like a proper soldier instead of a whimpering chick!”
“I know it does, I know how you feel, but think about it, you’ll see John again! He’ll come back, maybe not in a month or two, but eventually, he’ll come back! We’ll have another planet to defend in no time, and I bet you anything he’ll be there fighting.”
“Yes! Please! Wish agonizing plasmonic death on thousands of Marines and colonists so that you and Edward can potentially rub bulges!”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 103
Amy saw Captain Thomsen leaving the room. He glanced at her, and looked sympathetic. Amy raised her arm to salute, but he was already gone. She sighed, and looked back to Renee.
“How about you come with me, and we go to the cafeteria, and talk, okay?” Amy asked, “Talking always makes me feel better when I’m sad.”
That might be true in general, but your talking only ever makes me feel worse.
Renee nodded numbly. She felt like she was floating as Amy guided her down the hallway away from the docking bay. As if she was dead to the world, as if she wasn’t there. She felt blind, deaf and stupid without John.
Although really, she’s pretty blind, deaf, and stupid with him too.
She didn’t know what to do now, what was there to do? What fun was there now?
“I don’t know, video games?”
There would be no one to hold her hand under the table, no one to kiss her, no one to take her in their arms and hold her close, no one to share a bed with.
You know, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve done just fine without any of that bullshit for 23 years just fine.
As they were walking, Renee saw someone approaching them. She glanced up through the hair hanging in her eyes, and saw it was Troy. Oh he came at such convenient times.
Terrible Troy Counter: 102
Renee frantically reached up to wipe the hair out of her eyes and the tears from her face, but her red eyes and nose gave everything away.
“What’s wrong?” he demanded as he drew near enough to see Renee’s face, sounding actually concerned. Amy didn’t say anything, and Troy looked to Renee, “What happened, Renee? Why are you crying? Spartan didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“No,” Renee said, “Just leave me alone; you wouldn’t care.”
Troy pursed his lips for a moment, his anger flaring, but he exhaled deeply and calm seemed to splash across his features again. He’d exercise his patience. He looked to Amy for a better answer.
“She’s not feeling well,” she told him flatly, “Due to what just happened.”
“What happened?” Troy asked, bewildered, “I know nothing; don’t leave me in the dark here, you two!”
“John’s gone!” Renee snapped, wiping tears from her eyes.
“Gone?” Troy repeated, “Gone where? I never knew you could lose track of someone that big.”
Ok, I’ll admit, that was actually quite funny.
Terrible Troy Counter: 103
“No, you idiot! He’s not lost,” Amy was quick to reply, “He’s gone, as in he left . ”
“Oh,” his features softened, “To…”
“Reach, with Dr. Halsey…” Renee finished, wiping at her eyes again. She didn’t want Troy to see her crying over John.
“I knew the Doctor was leaving,” Troy folded his arms on his chest, “but I wasn’t informed about Spartan ditching us too. That’s too bad.”
Actually, he couldn’t feel happier. Now, with John gone, he might be able to try and mend his friendship with Renee and Amy. Renee could forget about John now, he’d probably get himself killed in some strange Spartan mission and he’d be gone from their lives for good… and maybe things could go back to how they used to be…
You know, as much as the story tries to make this sound like villainous scheming, I can still only read it as Troy being concerned about his friend’s deteriorating mental state and celebrating the removal of the cause thereof.
Terrible Troy Counter: 104
Troy met Renee’s eyes, and she glared at him, and he felt like she knew what he had just thought, and felt somewhat intimidated. Renee’s glare was almost as bad as John’s in the intensity, Troy was disgusted. She was trying to be like him.
“Again, the only rational way to read this is disgust at his companion emulating a violent, manipulative sociopath.”
Terrible Troy Counter: 105
“Because John is gone, don’t think you automatically can try and take his place,” she declared as if she’d read his mind, her voice surprisingly soft compared to her glare, “You won’t replace him.”
Terrible Troy Counter: And thank God for that!
She almost sounded weak, like she didn’t have any energy to put expression into her voice as well as her features.
“Trust me, I don’t want to be John,” he replied, almost insulted by Renee’s words, “I’m not going to take his place; I’m taking my own back, RenRen.”
The thought of Troy coming back and beginning to hang out with her and Amy didn’t make Renee feel at all better, but she hadn’t the energy to protest. She felt numb, and managed a shrug, and let her eyes fall to the floor.
“Then she’d better pick them up before somebody trips over them.”
“Well I suppose we need some man to hang out with, ” Amy announced with a sigh,
Seriously, why does that matter?
“Especially since now that Dr. Halsey’s gone, they are apparently the only females on the ship.”
“Though this is a one-time chance Troy. Be an asshole and you’re getting the boot. Besides, I thought a Lieutenant would have better things to do than associate with his old friends.”
“I have just about as much to do as you two,” Troy answered, falling in sync with the two girls as they started walking again. He went beside Renee, so that she was in-between both he and Amy. For a moment, he considered making distance between Renee, but his consoling side and longing to be close to her won him over, and he extended his arm and put it around his shoulders.
Normally, Renee would have shrugged it off, but she didn’t even bother, nor did she really respond to Troy’s gesture. Amy gave him a weird look.
“She has a man, ” she warned, trying to be the voice for her moping friend, who suddenly struck her as if she was just a walking ragdoll.
“Well I’m her friend,” Troy raised an eyebrow, satisfying the little bit of anger Amy’s words conjured by pulling Renee closer to him, “I know a tad bit more about her than Spartan does. I think the best thing we can do right now is to try and make her feel better, Smythe, not argue like a couple of kids. I’ve spent the last year of my life in one great huge argument with you two misfits, and I’m sick of it. Consider me neutral.”
“Alright,” Amy shrugged, rolling her eyes, “Although I think you’re gesture isn’t all about consoling.”
Renee exhaled a little breath, knowing that Amy’s speculation was right. Troy was trying to consol her, but at the same time she knew well enough it was also an excuse to get close to her, to be able to put his arm around her shoulders when John wasn’t around to see it. The thought of John sent a new wave of sadness over her, and several more tears fell silently from her eyes. She kept her head down and moved one foot in front of the other like an automaton. John’s absence and Troy’s arm around her were crushing.
“Well, that’s still better than the converse…”
Terrible Troy Counter: 106
She just wished she could go away and be alone. She didn’t want to talk, especially now that Troy was here but at the same time she didn’t want to be alone – she was alone enough – to be completely alone would be frightening. She was truly lost without John.
Fucking Halight Counter: 49
They made it to the cafeteria, and sat down at the usual table, Renee noticing how Troy gallantly took what had been John’s place beside her, and how he never let his arm fall from her shoulders. He rubbed her arm, and looked down at her emotionless face.
“You alright?” he asked softly.
Renee was utterly dumbfounded, what a question to ask! Of course she wasn’t! She decided it’d be best if she ignored him like it had never been asked. She glanced up and looked to Amy on the other side of the table, who was giving Troy a strange look, but met her eyes after a moment .
“Let’s talk then,” Amy declared, “You may not want to, but it’ll make you feel better.”
“I don’t understand it,” Renee said in a small voice, “Why did this have to happen?”
Good question, actually.
I’ll give this one credit in that it’s actually for a legitimate reason and not just Edward being Edward like it is in the real Twilight, but this whole “enforced separation” plot in romantic fiction never really made sense to me. I mean, I’m all for putting things the characters and the readers want to happen in jeopardy, but a lot of the time this doesn’t end with the characters earning their happy ending as much as the same arbitrary circumstances that started the whole arc arbitrarily returning the status quo.
I suppose in romance-slash-other-genre fiction it’s a lot easier to swallow because the element inducing the separation can be part of the overarching plot and we get to see the characters work to do something about it, but in its pure form I always found it an extremely ponderous and heavy-handed way of inducing character development at best and just a complete waste of words at worst.
“Oh RenRen, show a backbone!” Troy sighed, feeling irritated, “He’s not dead, he’s just off on a special Spartan mission thing on Reach for a little while, and that’s all. He’ll be back eventually, you’ll see him again. Besides, you’ve got us. Don’t go dragging us down into this depressing state with ya; think of things that are happy, not sad.”
“I doubt he’ll be back,” she shook her head, “I can feel it.”
“Don’t say that!” Amy cried, “Stop this negative shit, dude. You will see him again.”
“You know, I think it’ll just be easier for everyone if I just go into the freezer, ” she declared, “You guys can unfreeze me when he comes back or whenever we get in the next battle.”
“No way, ” Amy snapped.
“Out of the question,” Troy narrowed his eyes, “That’s an order.”
“I mean, I could understand perfectly if UNSC Navy vessels required a certain percentage of Marines- especially officers- to be awake at any time… but the story doesn’t say that.”
Renee bit her lip, feeling a little bit of anger welling up inside her, but then she thought of what John would want. He wouldn’t want her being this way; he’d want her to be happy. She decided mentally then,
Again with this “deciding mentally” stuff! What other way to decide is there?
she would be happy, but she wouldn’t be doing it for Troy or for Amy, she’d be doing it for John.
“Because I suppose doing it for herself was completely out of the question.”
Fucking Halight Counter: 50
It had been a silent ride to Reach. Not a word had been spoken between Dr. Halsey and her Spartan, and the silence had been deafening, and although Dr. Halsey wanted to say something to John, anything, really… she couldn’t find her voice to do it. She was the one who was responsible for calling all the Spartans to Reach; she was the reason why John was on the Pelican in the first place.
John, she thought, if there hadn’t been a war, and she hadn’t selected him for the Spartan program, what sort of life would he have lived? A normal one, that’s for sure. He would be without all the knowledge of fighting, without his years of training; he would have been just another common civilian.
Excluding, of course, the fact that candidates for the SPARTAN-II program were selected because they had a perfect psychological profile for soldiering, and so he probably would have ended up in the military anyway…
“And excluding, of course, the fact that if there were no Spartans the Covenant might well have gotten to Eridanus II by now…”
At his current twenty-four years of age, would he have been engaged by now? Married, even? Perhaps, even with children to his name?
At 24? Dear God I hope not…
When he had a last name, that is.
That was one thing Dr. Halsey had never known about John. Even when they had given her his file, his surname had already been obscured by his number, his Spartan tag.
Umm, no. Not only did Halsey personally vet every SPARTAN-II candidate’s file before enrolling them (at which point they couldn’t have had numbers because they didn’t know how many would be in the program), she also directly supervised the Chief’s extraction alongside future-Captain Keyes!
But, even if a normal life had been possible for John, surely enough he wouldn’t have ever met Renee, who was from Earth, and he from Eridanus II.
Because, in a society with reliable interplanetary travel, nobody ever travels to different planets.
Dr. Halsey thought herself selfish, using her Spartans as if they were pawns on a chessboard. They had lives, all of them, once. And now that John was experiencing a tiny slice of what a normal life could be- to fall in love- she was snatching him away.
Oh, great– another ‘fic that doesn’t get that even though Dr. Halsey acknowledges the SPARTAN-II program as amoral, she also understands that it was necessary and that angsting over it is counterproductive.
The doctor looked to John, who was once again seated beside her. On the ride, he had gone from sitting, to pacing, to sitting again. He was so huge, so powerful, that if he truly wished upon not leaving, there was no one who could make him leave. He was leaving by his own choice, Halsey decided. If he wanted to, she had no doubt he could kill both her and the pilot, take control of the Pelican and fly back to the Hercules – but that wasn’t John.
“Although I for one would kind of like to see what the Hercules security staff would do if that Pelican did suddenly return to their hangar deck unnanounced, containing the dead bodies of the pilot and Dr. Halsey along with Master Chief Petty Officer Edward-117 covered in their blood.”
He was trained to be loyal, to fight, and to do his part in this war. Even if it meant leaving Renee and Amy behind, John would do as he was ordered, without a single resistance.
Since apparently resistances are physical objects now that can be counted.
“We’re almost to the base,” the pilot told them, “It’ll be about five minutes . ”
“Thank you,” Dr. Halsey replied with a little nod of her head, and looked back to John, who at once got to his feet again, and began pacing the length of the passenger compartment. Down, and back, down and back, down and back, the only sound were his boots clunking on the floor. This lasted until they had landed, and the pilot notified them instantly, and Dr. Halsey got to her feet, as the hatch swung open. Just as John was about to leave, she reached out and touched his arm, ever so slightly. He glanced back over his shoulder with a swift turn of his head and said nothing, but it was clear that he was paying attention, waiting patiently for whatever she wanted.
“Never mind,” Dr. Halsey muttered, and withdrew her hand. Even an apology would do no good.
John gave a slight nod of his head, and then he jumped out of the Pelican, and turned to help her out as well. He offered her his hand, and she guiltily took it, and made the three foot leap from the compartment. Once she was safely on the ground, John took his hand away, and turned his attention towards several higher ranking officers who were making their way across the asphalt landing pad to meet them. It was windy, and the men all kept a hand on their hats to keep them from being carried away.
Instantly, John snapped to a salute, and greeted them with the appropriate “Sirs!”
Dr. Halsey, however, didn’t salute. She never saluted, but instead, she gave the men a warm smile, and the first man who looked to be the highest in charge extended his hand, and she shook it.
He was an older man, with graying hair and a face full of wrinkles .
“Ma’am,” he smiled.
“Admiral Stanforth, ” Dr. Halsey replied, returning the smile.
You know, I think one of the reasons LoaS has so much padding in it is that the ‘fic seems dedicated to keeping its narrative lens focused all the way through logistical events like meals, showers, and Pelican flights- it was OK to see one iteration of these events to learn what daily life was like for a UNSC Marine (or at least what 16-year-old-civilian-AshleyBudrick thought military life was like), but then the story just kept going with them even though there was nothing new to show us. Sometimes it tries to prop these up with dialogue- either the actual mundane conversations that would follow these events (see Dr. Halsey and Thomsen saying their farewells at the start of the chapter) or the characters rehashing old-news character development internally or with each other.
“As difficult as it may be to believe working here at the Library, most fanfiction readers are not complete idiots- if you have characters with access to vehicles informed that they need to go to a location, then have a scene break and on the other side begin writing about them in that location, your readers will figure out that they took one of their vehicles to get there.”
John looked at the man, the name seeming familiar, and sure enough, his face was slightly familiar too. He recalled that he had last seen him ten years ago, in 2525. Stanforth had been the one who had given John and the rest of the Spartans their very first briefing on the Covenant .
“117,” Stanforth greeted him with the same smile.
“Admiral, sir!” John saluted again, “Good to see you again, sir! ”
“Likewise, Master Chief, ” Stanforth raised his eyebrows, and looked to Dr. Halsey and then back to John, “Welcome back to Reach.”
“Thank you, sir,” John was quick to reply. He looked around momentarily at the familiar surroundings; he had spent the majority of his life here at this military base and training facility.
Oh, yeah, this facility! I remember it so well from canon!
“I wonder if they have stuff stationed here?”
It was a bittersweet reunion, and instantly his mind flashed back to Renee. Her face flashed in front of his eyes, and he had to close them for a moment, letting out an inaudible sigh. No, he couldn’t think about her, not here, not now.
“The rest of the Spartans have been arriving here for the last hour or so,” Stanforth was telling Dr. Halsey, “Although Spartan-030 and 093 won’t arrive until tomorrow morning…”
“They’re on a mission farther out, it took us a while to even contact them,” Stanforth went on,
It takes characters in this story a while to contact people even if they’re right next to each other!
“But, now with 117 ‘s arrival, we’ve got all but those two with us.”
They started heading into the base, and John quickly followed along behind. He felt his stomach flop. It would be good to see all of his Spartans again. It would sooth his aching mind.
“Not exactly according to plan,” Dr. Halsey adjusted her glasses, “I wanted to conduct the first meeting this evening at approximately 1800 hours . ”
“My apologies. Doctor, ” Stanforth replied, and he stood aside to allow Dr. Halsey to enter the main military building ahead of him.
“Oh, hey, a main military building! I remember those from when I was working with the Turian Army division that was responsible for performing activities!”
John was the last one in, and he had to hurry slightly to keep up with them as they walked down the spotless hallways, their footsteps echoing on the floor.
“Well it can wait until morning; do you know when exactly Vinh and Grace are due to arrive?” Dr. Halsey was very prompt and businesslike now- different from how she had been on the ride here, John noted. He knew that she had probably felt responsible for separating him and Renee .
“No later than 900 hours, ” Stanforth answered.
“Alright, I’ll reschedule it for 1000 hours, is the meeting room available then?”
“I’m afraid not.”
“Make it available,” Dr. Halsey looked at him over her glasses, her eyes piercing.
“I’ll try my best, ma’am,” Stanforth sighed, “Although I’ll really have to push them- it’s a meeting for all the Top Brass,
Who are capitalized for Some Reason…
“Also, just… the top brass? As in all of them? And not any one specialty or region of command?
Must be a big conference room.”
and with all due respect. Doctor, they won’t be pleased if their meeting is postponed because you want to talk with your Spartans. You know what the majority think about the program.”
“Wind up soldiers, toy soldiers, robots, automations, mutants, yes, yes, I’ve heard it all before,” Dr. Halsey shook her head, and gave a little wave of her hand, “They can recline in their big comfortable chairs, issue orders, and think they’re doing a lot-
Because apparently running the UNSC doesn’t count as ‘doing a lot’…
when my Spartans are the ones balancing this war out. We’re on the brink of failure, and surely without them we’d be all dead and good for nothing. I’ll talk to them, if you want me to. Admiral, but the point is I have a tight schedule all planned out and I plan to have my Spartans assigned into groups and en route to their missions within the next forty-eight hours.”
Once again, why is Halsey the one doing this? She’s a scientist– she can pull in military assets to assist with her research programs, and could I suppose tell them to take specific actions when dealing with situations like the defense of Forerunner ruins that have a complicated technical aspect, but she is not involved with the actual logistics of defending from the Covenant.
John, walking silently behind them, couldn’t help but feel like he was eavesdropping, but Dr. Halsey looked back over her shoulder at him and gave him a little smile. She turned back around to Stanforth, and continued, “Now where are my Spartans? I’d like to see them, and I’m sure John would too . ”
“They’ve all been given their own mess, it’s all sorted out,” Stanforth explained, “I’ll show you; it’s just down this hallway. They’re all together, I think that’s what they want, since they’re so close.”
They came to two sets of doors, and they opened into a large room filled with beds, and John, who could see over both Stanforth and Dr. Halsey’s heads quite easily, was filled with happiness when he saw on each one, were his Spartans.
Wait, each bed had all of the other Spartans on it?
*quietly sets the “[X] Days Without A Visit From The SCP Foundation” sign to -2*
The majority of them had their helmets off and were reclining or sitting on the beds,
“Wait, all of them are in their armor… in a barracks the middle of a friendly military complex?”
For fuck’s sake, first the story can’t seem to get them to leave it on, now they can’t seem to take it off!
but upon Dr. Halsey, Stanforth and John’s entry, they all stopped. Frederic- who John recognized immediately, stood up.
“Officer on deck!” He bellowed, and the Spartans all saluted in perfect sync.
John returned the salute, and spotted Kelly, James and Linda amongst them.
“Stand easy, Spartans,” Stanforth replied coolly, “I’m just here to show Ms. Catherine Halsey
She has a doctorate, you know…
and Spartan-117 the room.”
Frederic shot forward instantly, and took Dr. Halsey’s hand in his own .
“Good to see you again, ma’am!” he greeted her with a friendly smile, for he wasn’t wearing his helmet. John, out of the corner of his eye, saw Stanforth make a stealthy exit, and almost instantly all the Spartans were up and crowded around him and Dr. Halsey, greeting them anxiously.
Oh, for fuck’s sake- they’re supersoldiers, not puppies…
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 104
Kelly- after saying her hellos to Dr. Halsey, pushed through everyone and ran to him, and gave him a hug.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 105
“I knew I’d see you soon, sir!” she smiled, “Although, I wasn’t expecting this soon.”
“It was a surprise for you, too?” John asked.
“Yeah, a surprise for all of us, ” Kelly answered, raising her eyebrow and running her fingers through her short hair, “Whatever Halsey’s planning, I don’t know… but if it’s an excuse for all of us to reunite it’s a good thing, right?”
“Of course, ” he replied.
“Come over with us, ” Kelly grabbed his hand, “As soon as I heard this was for all the Spartans, Linda, James, Will and I made sure to save you a bed.”
“The only way that would be a concern is if there weren’t enough bunks for all of them- and I fail to see how that would happen, since they’re all numbered.”
She led him over to a vacant cot, which was cleanly made and undisturbed, and gestured towards it.
“This one’s yours, John,” she said with a smile, “You can relax.
There are no perimeters we need to guard this time. Linda and I will be your neighbors, hope you don’t mind.”
“Oh, not at all, ” John shook his head, and he took his knapsack off his back and tossed it lightly on the bed. He hesitated for a moment about removing his helmet, knowing that once he did his expressions would be visible, but he took it off anyway, and set it on the bed .
Kelly watched his face, her eyes narrowing.
“You alright?” she asked, her voice growing softer.
John met her eyes. “I’m fine.”
Kelly looked like she was keen on saying more, but suddenly, Linda and Will came over. Will quickly dashed to put John in a headlock, but he easily dodged it.
“Long time no see, ” Will said, coming around to his front, and his expression altered, “God, John, haven’t you grown into Mr. Serious.”
John raised his eyebrow, but said nothing, and glanced to Linda, who was silently waiting her turn. When he met her green eyes, she smiled .
“Hey yourself, ” John replied. He knew he should at least return the smile, but he didn’t feel like it. He couldn’t smile, not yet anyway. Again, a mental image of Renee flashed into his eyes, and he had to once again close them. He sat down on his bed, and suddenly felt Will and Linda sit down on either side of him.
“What’s wrong?” Linda asked, bending down to try and see his face.
Well, the pacing, dialogue, chain of command, and physics, for starters.
“Yeah, are you feeling alright?” Will raised an eyebrow, “You’re not hiding some life threatening gouge in your side or something, are you?”
“No, but considering his behavior on and shortly after Lacerta that’s a pretty good guess.”
Kelly sat down on her bed across from him, and John glanced up and met her eyes. He could tell just by her expression she knew what was wrong. He tore his eyes away again and looked down at his feet .
“Nah, I’m just a little tired, that’s all,” John narrowed his eyes, daring them to not believe him. But they did, and he felt Will clap him on the shoulder.
“Don’t blame you,” he said, “I think we all are.”
Will and Linda got up and went to their bunks. Kelly remained seated across from him and didn’t say anything, and John kept his eyes locked on the tile flooring. All he could think of was Renee.
Well boo blubberty hoo.