1674: Love of a Spartan – Chapters Twenty-Two and Twenty-ThreePosted: February 2, 2017
Hello hello, all you patrons!
“Last time on Love of a Spartan, Master Chief Edward-117 finally left the Hercules alongside the meritorious Dr. Halsey, en route to Reach and his fellow supersoldiers. There, they were introduced to Admiral Stanforth, and a meeting was planned but not actually accomplished. Oh, and Renee Kilburn moped a lot back on the Hercules and considered going into cryostasis just to pass the time- which, really, given the story’s pacing, seems like a perfectly reasonable response.”
Terrible Troy Counter: 106
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 105
Fucking Halight Counter: 50
Chapter 22/Twenty-One is a tiny one called “A Foolish Mistake”- and, really, no LoaS chapter title has ever been more appropriate.
[March 14th, 2535 – Epsilon Eridani System, Fleetcom Sector One – Reach]
Ok, we’ve only had this new location stamp for about a chapter, and already I don’t like it. For one thing, “FLEETCOM” should be capslocked. For another, it goes system, sector, planet, which is completely incoherent: It’s convention for location stamps to start at the finest location and move out to the coarsest, but really any logical order would be better than… whatever this is.
“We open with Edward-117 lying in the Spartan barracks- or, rather, laying in the Spartan barracks- fighting insomnia and thinking about, what else, Renee Kilburn.”
The adrenaline he had felt when he had first kissed her, the fear when he had seen her fall from the Pelican, the arousal when he had utilized Amy’s suggestion-
OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP TALKING ABOUT AMY’S GODDAMN TIPS! THEY AREN’T REALLY ALL THAT GROUNDBREAKING!
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 106
he lingered more on those memories- the last day he had spent with Renee.
John held back a smirk that instantly wanted to come to his lips.
Why is he smirking?
I know I’ve been asking that a lot recently, but it really makes no goddamn sense. What is there in this situation to smirk about?
Ever since he had first met Renee, she was brave, strong-willed and surprisingly tough.
Umm, yes on the first two, actually, but only because she’s too stupid to recognize an obviously dangerous situation. And considering the amount of time in combat she spends completely fucking incapacitated, I’m gonna have to say no to “tough”.
She was a good shot, knew everything there was to know
She had to be told how to use her fucking tongue!
and had – as Amy often mentioned – the make of a leader.
The what now?
“Presumably ‘the make of a leader’ isn’t the same thing as actual leadership ability, since she lacks that in spades…”
He had to assure himself somehow- she had taken care of herself long before he had met her, long before he was there to protect her and watch over her. She could handle herself now- even though it might be hard- she would be able to take care of herself in battle without him being there. Although, the girl seemed to be a little on the clumsy side, falling or tripping seemed to be her worst fault-
Fucking Halight Counter: 51
and if her clumsiness happened to pay her a visit when she was in battle… if she were to lose her balance… it would be an opportunity for the enemy, if she were to fall… an even greater one.
“I didn’t know Captain Obvious had been reassigned to Reach as well…”
She was lucky, though. John just hoped that one day her luck wouldn’t run out.
… and suddenly Frank Miller emphasis!
“You’re still awake?” a voice came through the darkness, and John turned his head slightly to the side, and saw Kelly’s eyes were open and she was looking at him.
When people ask me that, I always answer “no”, just to see how they react.
John nodded slowly.
“You’re thinking about her, aren’t you, John?” Kelly’s expression altered, although John wasn’t quite sure what emotion it portrayed at the moment .
John turned his head and focused his eyes on the ceiling.
“What makes you think that?” he asked, his voice monotone.
“Who are you trying to kid?” Kelly was quick to snap, “It happened, what I said would happen. Although it happened a lot sooner than I figured, you got called away from the cruiser and had to leave your Private girl behind.”
“She’s a Corporal now, actually.”
“Well good for her,” Kelly answered, although she didn’t sound particularly like she cared,
“Good for Kelly, too!”
Glad to see that somebody other than Troy is still making sense…
“Don’t you see what it’s doing to you? Already you’re acting weird and we’ve been here for not even a day. If you let this little affair go too far, you’ll be thinking about her instead of thinking about aiming your gun, or dodging plasma. If you don’t let her go, you will get yourself killed. Dr. Halsey has probably already informed you of that.”
Really, what more is there to add to this? We should just let Kelly and Troy do the riff for us at this point.
“Not in those exact words, no, ” John spoke solemnly, narrowed his eyes, “I’m a trained Spartan, Kelly. I’m not about to go get myself killed. I’m not going to let anything get in the way of what needs to be done.”
“Sadly, you already have.”
“Well I sure hope so,” Kelly rolled away from him, “Because I’d never forgive you if you did. I lost Sam. I’m not going to lose you, too – especially over something stupid like this. ” She paused for a moment, then continued, her voice getting bitter, “It’d look some charming on your gravestone. ‘Here lies Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, a brave soldier and an excellent leader. He was killed in battle when he let down his guard to think about his love life.‘
John gritted his teeth slightly, but forced his eyes closed, and exhaled a breath. As rude Kelly’s last words had been, he knew they were true. He just had to set aside Renee, lock all memories of her away in a dark corner of his mind
– for now anyway.
After that we jump to what we’re told is 6:45 next morning… with yet another instance of ship’s time apparently not existing in Slipspace.
“You know what’s equally strange? The fact that when they leave the Hercules to go planetside, it always seems to be about the same time locally as it was on the ship- they never leave during ship’s day and land during local night, or vice versa. Apparently every single planet in UNSC space has its rotational period more or less synchronized to Earth’s.”
After that we spend an incredible nine-hundred and seventy-eight words watching Edward make his bed, wake up a few remaining Spartans (weren’t they all supposed to be conditioned to wake up at 0630?) and take a hot shower. Then it’s back to the UNSC Gratuitous Moping:
On the Hercules, Renee sat at one of the tables in the empty cafeteria, holding her head in her hands, her reddened eyes focused on the tabletop.
“You know, I’m wondering- is alcohol allowed on UNSC military ships? I could understand completely if it wasn’t, but we have no way of knowing one way or the other since none of these people ever even think about drinking it.”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 107
She said nothing, did nothing,
“And this is different from the rest of the story… how, exactly?”
and moved only to sniff and wipe at her also red nose. She had no idea what time it was- only that it was very early in what you could call “morning”, but because they had re-entered Slipspace it was almost impossible to tell.
Renee had gone back to her room for a while, to get some space from Amy and Troy, but found it very hard to sleep.
She cried most of the time- slept, then woke up again and went back to crying, but decided she would go to the cafeteria instead.
And here she was.
Renee held back a sniffle, but her body convulsed with a suppressed sob and she felt her stomach flop sickeningly. If she cried anymore, she was certain she would throw up. She hadn’t eaten anything for well over twelve hours, and her stomach was grumbling persistently, only to be ignored. Sure, her body was telling her it needed food, but she just didn’t feel like eating.
Oh for fuck’s sake, woman, pull yourself together!
“You know, the really rather frightening part of all of this is that while the temporary absence of her bunkmate has reduced her to a whimpering mess, the violent deaths of seven Marines from her unit back on Lacerta triggered about as much emotional reaction as a tweaked mandible- to say nothing of her first encounter with a mass civilian gravesite.”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 108
The rest of the scene- all eight hundred words of it- is literally just Renee moping. She doesn’t come to any new understanding of herself or her situation, she doesn’t take any actions and she doesn’t even interact with anybody else, she’s just sad. Way back in mid-August TacoMagic described the pacing of Love of a Spartan as “going nowhere slowly”, and that has only gotten more true since then.
The Spartans welcomed the arrival of Vinh and Grace with much similarity to when Dr. Halsey and John arrived. Everyone crowded around them, eager to have the final members of their tight-knit “family” back with them. The last two Spartans had arrived shortly after 900 hours, just like Stanforth had predicted. They weren’t exactly on time, which Dr. Halsey wasn’t absolutely happy about, but she, like the rest of the Spartans, was glad to see Vinh and Grace. She came to the Spartans’ mess momentarily to greet them, but could only stay for a few moments, before she whisked off. John guessed by her determined expression that she hadn’t yet won the battle for the auditorium, and that was her number one priority. He often admired the Doctor’s determination- even for just a civilian, her attitude equaled that of any enlisted soldier.
I think I just got insulted!
The Spartans- except for Vinh and Grace, who hurried off to get out of their armor- were all dressed in standard uniform, clean and ready for whenever they’d receive the call to attend Dr. Halsey’s
“The Doctor didn’t stay long,” James remarked.
He, John, Kelly, Linda and Will were standing in a small group around John’s bed.
“She’s currently in a war with the Top Brass for the auditorium,” John smirked, filled his fellow soldiers in, “She had originally planned for the meeting to be last evening, but due to Vinh and Grace’s late arrival, she had to postpone it- to 1000 hours, which, inconveniently was the time the Top Brass had scheduled one of their meetings- and she won’t give up until she gets what she wants . ”
The others all laughed quietly.
You know, the bit about Halsey stealing the auditorium worked just fine being mentioned in passing to demonstrate how important Halsey’s work was… then the ‘fic had to go and ruin it by turning it into a Thing for some incomprehensible reason.
“Also, ‘top brass’ is still capitalized.”
“That’s Dr. Halsey for you,” Kelly shrugged, folding her arms on her chest, getting nods of agreement from the others.
“It’s after 9,” Linda raised her eyebrow, “It’s cutting it a little bit close, don’t you think? I mean, the Doctor could always hold the meeting here… ”
“But you know Halsey,” Will answered, “She’ll press them and press them until they get so annoyed they’ll give in.”
“Well, when you put it that way, you’re probably right,” Linda smirked, amusement dancing in her green eyes.
Gosh, all the thrills of a department-wide email thread!
“And what if… the projector is broken?”
John noticed that every single one of his Spartans had the limited expressions.
Didn’t know they sold facial features.
A smirk, raised eyebrow or their eyes conveyed the most emotion, and only occasionally did they laugh. He had to get back into habit of it- he hadn’t fallen completely slack, but had gotten kind of prone to smiling fully, laughing loudly and more frequently, and using more civilian notions such as winking, biting his lip or chewing on the inside of his mouth- most of them were adopted no thanks to Amy and Renee.
So they’ve ruined the Chief.
What else is new?
So, when he currently felt the urge to smile, he buffered it down to a little smirk.
“So, ” Linda continued, looking to John, “Are you feeling better today?”
“I’m still a little tired,” John answered, “But nothing I can’t handle.”
“Well I suppose it’s hard for you to sleep, you were in Slipspace for a while, I heard, ” Will added, “Slipspace messes up your sleep, no matter who you are.”
“I know,” Kelly huffed, “I despise Slipspace,
“And I think that after reading this story’s portrayal of it, so do I.”
and there are always distractions when you’re there too-” She shot a look at John, intending the reference of distractions to be directed at him. In a non-direct way, she was bringing up Renee.
WE GET IT ALREADY!
John said nothing, and allowed his face to portray nothing as well. Kelly continued, breaking eye contact with him, “It’s best though when you don’t let those distractions get in the way of what’s really important, right?”
His Spartans agreed, although they had no idea about the underlying meaning of Kelly’s words. John narrowed his eyes ever so slightly- Kelly was really making sure that he wouldn’t forget what she told him last night-
“And so is the narration.”
although he wasn’t about to. In fact, he thought he was doing a pretty good job of keeping Renee from his mind, as much as it pained him.
At that moment, Vinh and Grace returned to the room, dressed in their uniforms, and the majority of the Spartans flocked to them again, now that they could see their faces- faces that were long missed.
Wait, didn’t they just do this whole meet-and-greet bit at the start of the scene?
Kelly and John stayed behind for just a split second, and she met his eyes, shrugging slightly.
“You’ve made yourself more than clear,” John said lowly in monotone .
“Good,” Kelly nodded, “I’m just concerned about you, John, like the rest of us are . ”
John nodded his head ever so slightly, and watched as Kelly walked off to greet Vinh and Grace once again. He frowned, and looked down at the floor, troubled by Kelly’s words. Slightly- ever so slightly, they reminded her of something Troy Fisher would do- like how he talked to Renee about him- instead, it was Kelly talking to him about Renee. It was odd, but strangely not unfamiliar.
Troy <> Kelly OTP?
“Don’t push your luck.”
“After that, it’s finally time for Dr. Halsey’s briefing:”
“Hello my Spartans, ” she said, her voice carrying out perfectly through the large room, “I’m sorry if I’m a little late, but I had to work hard to get this room. You all deserve nothing less than the best,” she paused to push her glasses up on her nose, “Well, let’s get down to business. Obviously, you know that you weren’t all called here just because I wanted to see you all again. Of course, it’s nice, but I’ve got some missions to assign you- ones that are too dangerous for common marine personnel.
Oh, for the love of-
Here’s the scenario. Apparently, the planets the Covenant have succeeded in glassing aren’t completely useless. The Covenant haven’t quite forgotten about them, in fact, their using them- digging to get the resources that weren’t destroyed in their original sweep. Now, as the planets were originally colonies of Earth, we don’t want them using the resources. If we can’t use them, we’re sure not going to let them.
“That’s… actually a reasonably clever idea. Disrupting Covenant industrial and mining operations will bog down the logistics of their advance, as well as denying them material that will be used to bolster their fleet. It’ll also put more strain on their domestic economy, which could increase friction with the less zealous species like the Unggoy and Kig-Yar, and force them to divert a disproportionate amount of military activity to tracking down a few saboteurs.”
It’s even something Dr. Halsey could realistically have discovered- I mean, sure, it’s nothing regular military intelligence couldn’t also have discovered, and Halsey’d still be working with the regular military brass in order to actually create an effective mission plan out of the data she’d found, but I find it entirely believable that her time spent on the Hercules was at least partially devoted to collecting and analyzing intel on what the Covenant was doing with the planets it had glassed.
The UNSC is calling upon you to return to the planets, and wipe out the Covenant forces there, using nuclear warfare. I trust you’re familiar in that field.
“Why does every single operation in Love of a Spartan involve ‘wiping out’ the Covenant?
For the industrial sabotage strategy we outlined above to be at all effective, the UNSC needs to expend proportionally less in military assets than it’s denying the Covenant in raw materials. That would call for infiltrating their operations, crippling their mining equipment as quickly and permanently as possible, and then leaving– and yes, nuclear charges would be a reasonably way of doing that, but this sounds like they are actually planning to win the entire war by simple attrition, which is not something the UNSC can do.
Actually, for that matter, how are a few dozen Spartans going to wipe out all of the Covenant forces around a planet? Covenant glassing fleets include hundreds of ships, and if they’re extremely lucky they might be able to catch two in the blast of a single nuclear device.”
Now, the planets the Covenant are most interested in are Capricornia, Lacerta and Jericho IV- planets that I know some of you helped to defend,” Dr. Halsey particularly looked at John, then moved on, “I’m assigning each of you into groups and splitting you up amongst the three planets. Your objectives will all be the same- wipe out the Covenant forces.
You will be assigned your teams and be off on your missions by tomorrow afternoon. During that time, I want all of you to get proper meals, rest, and most of all practice.
Those last two are kind of mutually exclusive.
When you’re not eating or sleeping, I want you out in the training fields- I’ve already organized several drills you are to complete within the time remaining.
“No studying the weaknesses of Covenant mining technology or patrol routes or anything, just… drills.”
So the meeting ends, and of course Edward asks if he’s going back to the Hercules when it’s over, and of course the answer is a resounding “maybe”. Then it’s off to the training course!
After the meeting had finished, John and the other Spartans got suited up and went to the training facility, the familiar place where they had trained when they were children. With its complex design, nets, ropes, pulleys, puddles of mud, and all sorts of things designed to harm, John realized that it would be the perfect place for him to get off his anger that had been welling up inside of him since he had arrived here on Reach.
Ok, now, it might just be me being the obnoxious engineer, but while all of those things could be used in a harmful fashion I don’t think any of them were really “designed to harm”.
“That, and I don’t think mud was ever really designed, period.”
Dr. Halsey had assigned multiple soldiers, dressed in primitive versions of assault armor, armed with weapons, to accompany the rest of the trying obstacles in the training facility.
Sounds about right for the Spartan program so far, although “primitive versions of assault armor” makes it sound like the trainers were dressed in chainmail and field plate.
*Unpleasant flashbacks to John and the Dragon Rider.*
John hadn’t been more eager in his life. He selected his weapons, an assault rifle and a good M6D sidearm, and along with the rest of his Spartans, dove into battle.
John bolted, climbed up a net in lightning fast speed, and leaped over the side onto a rocky hill – sliding down the steep incline.
He stopped himself, dodged a tripwire cleverly set at the hill’s base, and saw his first opponent approaching him. John was wild with eagerness-feeling particularly cocky as he charged the man in the assault armor. He would show Kelly, he would show everyone. This was the time where he could prove to them he could think about Renee and fight, and win.
The man raised his assault rifle but John reached him before he could aim, and grabbed his arm and twisted. The assault rifle went off, but the rounds flew into the ground, and the man’s arm snapped, the bone making a loud satisfying crack. He screamed, but John’s fist met his solar plexus, cracking the armor and knocking the wind out of him- at the same time breaking his ribs. The man staggered, letting out a gurgle, but John finished him with a blow to the back of the head with the butt of his assault rifle.
Did Edward just kill that trainer?”
I mean, I know live-fire drills are a thing in the military, but this setup makes fucking Hazardous Course 2 look OSHA-compliant.
John moved on, smiling behind his visor. That time, he had thought of the first time had kissed Renee- there had been no flaws in his fighting technique. He initialized the threat in less than thirty seconds.
Oh, he’s initialized a threat all right.
John moved on, thinking back to the particular time when he had first held Renee’s hand beneath the table. He focused on the second man who was running at him, and he wasn’t as slow as the first one had been, for he raised his weapon and fired two bursts at John, who ducked in a blur, and came running. He fired at the man’s legs- and the bullets easily breached the armor, bringing the man down. John rushed up to him and downed him by knocking him unconscious when he slammed his assault rifle into his head.
“All right, so this one at least managed to survive, but only because Edward here was accurate enough to just hit his legs– and if somebody doesn’t get him off the course soon and start providing first aid, he’s still going to bleed out.”
He continued on, leaping across a large puddle of mud, and allowed himself to laugh. Now he allowed himself to think back on the time he had spent with Renee the last day on the Hercules How he had kissed her, how she responded to him, how their love for each other had been so pronounced-
John spotted another man standing about fifty meters away on the other side of a large field. Confident, John bolted forward onto the grass, but strangely, the man didn’t fire at him. John raised his assault rifle to shoot at him, but that’s when he heard Linda’s shout.
“JOHN, THAT’S A-”
She didn’t get to finish her sentence, when John heard the explosion, and felt the intense heat. He was thrown through the air with astounding force. Dirt, mud… and what he realized was his own blood- flew through the air.
Ok… so what the fuck happened here? Was the trainer really a mannequin rigged with explosives? Did he deploy some kind of explosive weapon, like a rocket launcher or a grenade? Or did Dr. Halsey actually put trainers out there wearing suicide vests?
His vitals dropped, and his HUD began to ping a warning. John’s head slammed forward into the front of his helmet, and he saw his own blood splatter against the inside of his visor… and his vision doubled. He could feel his body flying through the air limply- his suit had locked up- and pain- lots of pain.
“So, basically, the physical equivalent of reading Love of a Spartan.”
He could only watch as the ground rushed up to meet him unbelievably fast. He crashed into the ground, and John couldn’t hold back a scream as he felt pain shoot through his body a€” and he lay there motionless, only hearing the sound of his own frantic breathing and the beeping of his HUD, he couldn’t move. He heard shouts, of someone calling the drill off,
Oh, so now it gets called off, and not when you fucking murdered that one guy.
and he heard panic in the voices as they approached. Through his blood splattered visor, he saw one of his Spartans running towards him- but before they reached him, he passed out.
“Why does the narrative keep calling them ‘his’ Spartans- he’s not the one in command of them.”
Anyway, we pick right back up with Chapter 23/Twenty-Two, “Injuries”, which begins with Edward waking up in the medical bay and asking what the fuck just happened.
“You went into the mine field,” Dr. Halsey explained,
Ok, I can sort of understand why there’d be a minefield near the training course that was at least occasionally stocked with live explosives- after all, you have to teach mine-sweeping somehow.
But why the fuck was there a trainer wandering around in it?
“One exploded- and you’re lucky that it was only one. You have first degree burns on your arms and legs, three broken ribs, a cracked kneecap, sprained wrist, numerous scratches and bruises, and you dislocated your shoulder- but I put it back into place when you were still out. I’ve given you a fair dose of pain killers.”
I bet he’ll be perfectly healed by tomorrow.”
John frowned and glanced down to his shoulder. It was entirely purple and black, and it felt like it had a heart of its own, but he put it out of his conscious awareness. His expressions hardened, and realized then- he knew why he was lying here now with his injuries. He should have remembered- been more cautious, he had dealt with that mine field before. It didn’t take him long to figure out why he was the way he was now, with multiple injuries due to a pathetic and stupid mistake – he knew who had been on his mind at the time. He had been thinking about Renee, and was so preoccupied with his thoughts and getting to the next threat, he forgot to stop and think about the field. He hadn’t proved anyone wrong but himself.
So, it was true.
For the first time, John looked to Kelly, who was standing silently behind Dr. Halsey. She was still wearing her armor, minus the helmet, which she had slung under her arm. She looked generally concerned, but there was an underlying look of irritation as well. She no doubt figured out the reason as to why this had all happened as well. John half expected her to give him a well-deserved tongue lashing, but Kelly said nothing- her blue eyes told John all he needed to know.
Ok, Kelly is officially the best Spartan.
He knew well enough that she knew what he had been trying to do, and that she was probably angry at him for even thinking about it- let alone trying to pull it off. He felt guilty- and incredibly stupid. He wanted to apologize, but he figured he’d wait until Kelly had calmed down a little. Not just she, but all his Spartans deserved an apology.
To say nothing of the readers.
He was their leader, and he had pulled a stupid, stupid, stupid stunt today.
“Umm.. no, he isn’t.”
Isn’t their leader, we mean- because he most definitely is supid, stupid, stupid.
Well, if this had any positive side, John figured that he was glad this happened during a test run, not out in the actual battlefield.
“Well, I’m going to be fine,” John declared, sitting up and quickly wiping any traces of pain from his face, “I really am, ma’am.”
Dr. Halsey went to protest, but John had already pulled the IV from his hand and gotten to his feet. John glanced down at the blood as it began to ooze from where the IV needle had been, and he momentarily raised his hand to his mouth to suck away the blood,
“He’s not Edward Cullen, he’s Enoby Way!”
Fucking Halight Counter: Still 52, though.
and then he wiped his hand on his shorts.
So he gets the rest of the way up, Halsey mentions that his armor needs repairs and won’t be available until the next day but he still refuses to use that time to actually recuperate and instead asks if he’ll be going back to the Hercules- since apparently he just assumes the doctor has gotten more information since the time she told him she didn’t know.
Although I couldn’t directly tell you in the meeting today- I’ll tell you now. Chances are, you probably will see her again.
Captain Thomsen expressed interest in- not necessarily my return, but yours. If you want to, when you aren’t assigned on any specific mission, I can have you sent back to the Hercules.
Because the UNSC totally leaves its best special forces just sitting around doing nothing for long periods of time.
Thomsen told me that you helped the marines immensely, that their death toll would have been much higher if it weren’t for you.”
“You mean it would have been much lower if it weren’t for Edward. Since the majority of the casualties they took on Lacerta were due to his own failed leadership.
NO, I AM NOT GOING TO ‘LET THAT GO’!”
“I’d like that very much,” John whispered, “but can you be certain that she’ll be there? How will I know if she gets sent somewhere else? It sounds so foolish, ma’am, but I don’t want to lose her.”
“I have access to all UNSC personnel’s files,” Dr. Halsey replied, taking out her data pad from her lab coat pocket and turning it on with a flick of a finger, “I can pull up her file, to check for you, if you like,” as she was talking, she did exactly that. John watched the little screen of her data pad as Renee’s picture showed up, along with all her information.
Because fuck confidentiality of personal information!
A smile uncontrollably came to his lips, and without thinking, he reached for the data pad- and paused and looked up to Dr. Halsey.
“May I?” he asked, his voice wavering a little.
Dr. Halsey nodded, and placed the data pad into John’s large hand. He took it gently, and looked to the screen. Renee’s picture was old, he noticed- for her hair was cropped shorter, almost as short as Kelly’s. She was still beautiful though- and it was somewhat of a relief to see her face. He glanced over to her information. Her full name was Evelyn Renee Kilburn, a fact he hadn’t known before.
Hmm. Surprised it’s not Isabella.
He also obtained her birth date and learned she was originally from Earth. It also stated that she was still stationed on the Hercules.
“… where else would she be, exactly? It’s been all of a day and a half since the Hercules left Reach- unless they abruptly decided to shove her out an airlock, there really isn’t anyplace else she could go.
Not that I’d too terribly upset if they did shove her out of an airlock, of course…”
So he reads through the rest of her file, Halsey leaves, and it’s a Mommies’ Little Marines scene again!
The time aboard the Hercules seemed to drag by agonizingly slow.
“In other news, this story has words in it.”
Perhaps being in Slipspace had a factor to play or perhaps it was there was no ingredient to support the old saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”. Both had an obvious effect, but the second option mostly took center stage. Fun was one thing that was definitely absent from Renee’s routine.
And yet, you continue to show us that routine anyway.
“We’re treated to more of the usual moping, although it’s also revealed that Amy and Troy have to a substantial degree put their past behind them and are back to being the best of friends. Sadly, recognizing Troy Fisher for the decent man he is will not save her from remaining as LoaS‘s single worst character.”
We get another conversation about high school between Smythe and Fisher, where
Amy had spilled soda all over him when she unsuccessfully tried to dance with a drink in her hand.
“Seriously, did nothing interesting happen to any of these three during boot camp?”
The two of them were content, with looks of amusement dancing in their eyes- like the memories made them forget where they actually were and what was going on.
School dances, ugh. Renee had lots of memories of those,
And I bet we’re going to hear about every goddamn one of them…
the majority of them she had attended with Troy- and during the senior year he’d pick her up and drive her there in his sports car, which had been a gift from his parents for his seventeenth birthday.
Jesus Christ, how wealthy is Troy’s family? I’m from a pretty affluent family myself, and for my 17th birthday my parents gave me headphones and an Onion world atlas. Which was awesome, but wasn’t exactly a sports car.
He sold the same car only a year later for a fair amount of money in order to top up on his Academy tuitions.
“So, his family is rich enough to give him a sports car for his birthday, but… not rich enough to put him through post-secondary school.
Because that makes perfect sense…”
Actually, I have no idea if UNSC military academies would be charging tuition at all– there’s a war of attrition going on, after all, and they’re going to need all of the skilled officers they can get.
At that moment, Troy happened to turn to look at her, and he smiled. Renee noticed- his nose was really off center.
You know, I think it might be the hosting service’s fault, but one way or another these last couple of chapters have had a lot of hyphens in them in really strange places.
“Do you remember that, RenRen?” he asked, giving her a wink, “That was the same dance that they played our favorite song- matter of fact.”
You know, that song! By a singer! The one with the part in it that has those lyrics!
“Sure, I remember, ” Renee nodded rather dully, putting on a fake smile, although Troy couldn’t tell the difference. He glanced to Amy and then back to her.
“A smile, that’s good to see,” Troy pointed out, “I thought that was almost extinct from your expressions lately.” When Renee didn’t reply, he put his arm around her shoulder, “Look, Spartan ‘ll be back. You don’t need to be all depressed like this, it’s making Amy and I feel bad . ”
Yeah, Renee thought, you both really look like it.
By all means, please continue being a massive douche to the people who are looking out for your well-being. Nothing could make your character more likable.
So she leaves, and we cut back to Reach, where Edward continues to be an idiot and tries to leave the medical wing again only to fuck up something in his chest and end up back on the floor.
Dr. Halsey nodded, and reached up to the bedside table, opened the drawer and pulled out a bottle of pills. Pulling the cap off in a second, she dumped three little white pills into her hand and held them out to John, who hastily took them and threw them in his mouth and swallowed.
“And every aspect of his treatment is being personally overseen by Dr. Halsey because apparently a major military installation on the second-most-fortified human planet has no nurses.”
He waits for the pills to kick in, and Halsey tells him that he’s been assigned to Capricornia along with Kelly, James, Linda and Will. It’s got the largest Covenant presence (Halsey calls it an ‘infestation’) and she offers to switch him out with Fred due to his not being able to walk right now.
“No, ” John replied, opening his eyes and they flickered over to meet hers, “I’m up for the initial mission in which I’ve been assigned, ma ‘ am . ”
“You don’t give up, do you?” she asked, smiling a little.
“Never,” he answered, smirking slightly. He took a deep breath and forced himself into a sitting position, and he looked at the bottle of pills in her hand thoughtfully, “But just to be safe, I’d like some of those, for out on the field.”
Because engaging the Covenant while doped to the gills cannot possibly end badly…
“Well, it’s not like he has much farther to fall, now is it?”
“He needs Halsey’s assistance just to put on his shirt, but then immediately goes to the armory to suit up.”
The gel layer of the armor John was extremely thankful for a€” and once he had the entire suit on, he increased the gel’s thickness to almost the maximum, and he found it made it less painful for all of his limbs. It was almost like he had a bunch of pillows tied to each one of his extremities.
Which sounds like exactly the opposite of how you’d want to head into a tense firefight, but what do I know?
John thanked the technicians once again and then left. He tested out his ability to lightly jog in an empty hallway, and it seemed to go well without any extreme pain, which was good. His shoulder’s movements were still highly restricted, however.
“Well, then good thing he wouldn’t need to, you know, hold a rifle or anything…”
When he arrived at the auditorium,
Wasn’t it a conference room at the start of the chapter?
all of the Spartans were there, and Dr. Halsey was too, just as she told him. He went to her first, and she discretely handed him the bottle of painkillers, in which he slipped into one of the pockets on his utility belt.
John then quickly spotted out what would be his team and joined them .
“John?” Linda asked, as he sat down between her and James, “I didn’t expect you to be feeling up for it. There were rumors that Frederic was going to have to take your place. How are you feeling?”
“Good to go, ” John answered curtly, but he decided to give Linda a Spartan smile to lighten the mood, a gesture in which she returned. Out of the corner of his eye, John spotted Kelly, who was sitting on the other side of Linda. Although he couldn’t see her face, her head was turned in his direction ever so slightly.
As if she knew that he was on to her, she opened a private COM channel with him.
“I’m surprised, but you’re determined as ever,” she told him.
“I suppose so.”
“Have you learned your lesson now?” her voice sounded irritated,
“So typical, you had to blow up a mine to prove yourself wrong, when you should have just listened to me.”
John left it at that and switched off the COM channel, ending his conversation with Kelly. He didn’t understand why she was so upset.
I dunno, maybe it’s because her brother Spartan almost got himself killed by being a fucking idiot, and is now planning to have another go at it!
He was fine now, and he wasn’t proud of what he’d done, either, so he wasn’t in the mood to hear Kelly ridiculing him. He watched her as she swiftly turned her head away from him, as Dr. Halsey began to speak .
It was a short, rushed speech, where she repeated the teams and planets in which the teams were assigned, bade them all good luck, and then it was over. They would be departing in fifteen minutes sharp .
John exhaled, and decided to rely on James and opened a private COM channel .
“Have you been noticing Kelly’s attitude?” John decided to put on his authoritative voice. There was a pause, and then James came back a few seconds later.
“It isn’t really an attitude, sir. She’s angry that you’d pull such a careless stunt. To be honest, we all are.”
John really had nothing to say to that, and as the Spartans stood to leave, James came back with one final reply.
“All this over some girl, John? It’s crazy.”
Then he signed off.
John watched as James passed him, and joined up with Kelly, who was walking not too far ahead. Okay, great. Now they were all against him because he had fallen in love.
Good for them.
Dr. Halsey had told him that it was an uncontrollable emotion, so why didn’t his Spartans understand that?
He couldn’t help that he loved Renee.
Linda remained faithful, though, and decided to walk with him as they left the auditorium. She didn’t bother with private COM channels; instead, she spoke aloud, but kept her voice really low.
“I heard Kelly talking to James,” she told him, “About you loving a marine. No offense, sir, but that seems a little hard to believe.
“You know, I thought exactly the same thing when I read the ‘fic summary.”
Is it true?”
John nodded ever so slightly, thankful for his mirrored visor.
“Oh.” Linda replied after a moment, and then she was silent.
He couldn’t understand their reactions one bit. Was love such a taboo? Oh, right. It was, Spartans weren’t meant to love, and he had to be the unfortunate fool to fall into a trap and break the precious rules. But it wasn’t bad, in fact, John believed it was the best emotion he’d encountered-
Except for the part where it keeps getting him nearly killed.
and the fact that he was allowed to feel it was the bonus. No one knew when he was feeling the emotion of love, they couldn’t tell.
Well, anyone else but his Spartans. No thanks to Kelly. If Linda knew, then she wasn’t the only one. Was it so unprofessional to love?
He was a Spartan, but he had feelings. They hadn’t completely been ironed out of him. Loving Renee had been the best thing in his life, he’d discovered a whole new area in his life, one that he never knew he could find, or even that it could exist.
He would love Renee, and there was nothing anyone could do to change it .
But, he’d love her and think about her when it was appropriate. After yesterday’s stunt, the last thing John wanted to do is think about Renee when he was out on the field. He didn’t want any more wounds,
any more bruises, any more burns and he definitely didn’t want to die.
“Us, on the other hand…”
Come back next time to witness terrible tactics, terrible strategy, and terrible physics.