1700: Love of a Spartan – Chapter Twenty-SevenPosted: March 2, 2017
This chapter contains potential flamebait in the form of discussion of sexual assault and date rape.
Hello hello, all you patrons! Welcome back to the giant creepy after-school special that at some point might have been called Love of a Spartan!
“Previously, we observed the resolution to the pointless ‘Kelly claims Edward doesn’t like Renee and Renee believes her’ arc, as she went out to a bar with Troy Fisher and under the malign, corrupting, and sorcerous influence of a few whiskey-sodas proceeded to be happier than she had ever been while bonded with the Chief (including getting rather physical with the Lieutenant for no real adequately explained reason other than that any amount of alcohol apparently causes her to immediately attempt to couple with the first living thing she sees). Obviously Renee enjoying herself and growing closer to a comrade who respects her and has her best interests at heart was unacceptable to a certain Spartan, and Edward immediately showed up at the site to physically remove Troy from her proximity and carry her by-then insensate body back to the military base and Spartan barracks.”
Terrible Troy Counter: 115
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 122
Motherfucking Halight Counter: 56
“And this all brings us to Chapter 27/Twenty-six, Turning Point.”
Ohh, this is going to be a turning point all right…
[April 3rd, 2535 – Reach Military Base, Reach]
Wait a minute… Reach Military Base is on Reach?!
“… This is why stunted scene tags and vagueness should never be mixed.”
Renee slowly drifted into sub consciousness- the sweet melodic place between dreams and actual reality, where your vision is fuzzy and the two dimensions coincide, and you’re left wondering what part is the dream and what is real.
Why does the amount of purple in this ‘fic increase when the Covenant isn’t around for a while?
For her, she had a dream that was crazy and odd, combining people and places she knew with unrealistic circumstances, such as the ability to hover or some such thing. Her dream, John had been in it all along, donned in his armor, with an assault rifle in hand. He was constantly at her side, and they seemed to travel through the dreams together.
Because dreams in fanfiction are never fucking subtle.
“So she spends a few more paragraphs recovering what passes for consciousness and getting her bearings in the Spartans’ barracks. Somehow, despite her night of drunken antics, she and the Chief have managed to wake up before the proper Spartans; Edward can still smell alcohol on her breath which doesn’t seem quite right given what little I know of human metabolism; and they start biting on each other yet again before remembering that they are surrounded by actual soldiers.”
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 123
John got out of bed easily, then grabbed her by the waist and pulled her out of bed too, swinging her around and setting her gently down on the floor.
And I guess Renee just has no fucking ability to move under her own power now.
She wobbled slightly, but got a hold of her balance and glanced down at herself, meanwhile running her fingers feverishly through her slightly tousled hair. She felt warm, groggy and well, unusual. She guessed this was what she’d heard Amy complain about many times- a hangover.
That sounds less like a hangover and more like a mild cold.
“I never got to tell you,” John said quietly, as he headed for the door, holding his hand out to her for her to take, “I love your new hair style.”
“Whatever that may have been.”
I think it might actually have been described before at some point, it’s just that we’ve already forgotten about it because NOBODY FUCKING CARES!
So they head out of the building, Renee wonders whether Edward wants to get her alone because he’s angry at her over her behavior last night…
“– Oh, there’s no way that could end messily-”
… and who should they run into but Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey!
“That’s great,” Dr. Halsey paused for a moment, although she looked jittery to keep on going, “I’m glad that you have a chance to see each other again so soon, it’s a lucky coincidence that Captain Thomsen decided to come to Reach. Anyhow, I’m rather excited, I’ve just been granted permission to have full access to this facility’s lab-
First. Why has the UNSC’s foremost scientific mind decided to wait until now to get access to the facility research lab?
Second. Why is the research lab in the same building as the Spartan barracks and the executive conference room? … This ‘central military base’ is only one building, isn’t it?
Third. Why is there only one research lab on the entire goddamn base?
Actually, for that matter, what does that one lab even have in it if all UNSC military research on Reach runs through it?
I figured I mind as well begin to do some rather important research . “
You know, that phrase keeps showing up. At first I was just dinging it as poor spelling, but now I’m wondering if this is something Canadians actually say.
Dr. Halsey’s eyes flickered up to John’s, and instantly he felt a lump in his throat. He had a strange feeling that he knew what research Dr. Halsey was talking about. John nodded numbly.
“That’s great,” He commented, “Do let me know… if you learn anything at all.”
“I’m assuming she means that whole line of stupid human-Spartan hybrid inquiry… but if so, why? Both of you are still in military service- in combat posting, no less! Can’t spawning wait? And aren’t there more important things for UNSC researchers to be studying at the moment… you know, like the Covenant?”
“You’d be the first,” Dr. Halsey replied, smiling, and then she turned and continued on her way, but paused and looked back over her shoulder again, “Are you going outside?”
“Yes ma’am,” John replied.
“Is it ever nice, the sun’s really warm,” Dr. Halsey informed them,
“I poked my head out a few minutes ago.
And John, be sure to have Renee back before noon, since the Hercules is due to leave today.”
“That’s an awfully quick extended resupply and refit.”
So they finally actually exit the building, and Renee (not knowing how the selection process works) asks if she could potentially be admitted into the SPARTAN-II program.
“You can’t,” John answered, descending down the stairs two at a time, “But yes, I agree that if you were as tough as I was, I’d have less to worry about.”
“There’s no way I could ever become a Spartan?” Renee asked, hurrying after him.
“Why? Not saying that I’m particularly interested, but let’s say if I was, couldn’t I just go and get the surgery or whatever?” Renee pressed.
“Because you’re a miserable excuse for a Marine?”
“You just can’t go,” John extended his hand out to her, and she took it again, “Every one of us was selected, because we were bigger, stronger, faster, and more intelligent than the average person. No offense, but you’re average.
And that‘s being rather generous!
Even if you weren’t, there is a chance that you could die during the surgery. It’s not just something simple like just injecting some medicine and you transform overnight. Our genetic code was changed, our bones were graphed, our muscles and reflexes enhanced. Half of my Spartans died or were permanently crippled because of the surgery; there were over seventy of us. Now, everyone you saw in the room, we’re the ones left.”
“I’m sorry,” Renee apologized, “That must have been horrible for you. I never knew it was like that, I understand now. I should have thought first.”
“It’s fine,” John squeezed her hand gently, “But now you know.”
“Actually, wouldn’t that information be… you know, classified?”
Also getting a pretty strong ‘feel sowwy for meeee’ vibe from the decision to bring this topic up now.
They walked along in silence for a while, making their way down the concrete path, but Renee was surprised when John’s head snapped up, and instantly stopped dead his tracks.
His head stopped dead in its tracks?
She looked ahead, but didn’t see anything, nor could she hear anything either.
“What?” Renee asked cautiously, tightening her grip on John’s hand, noticing how tense it instantly became. For a moment, she thought Covenant, but knew that there were no Covenant on Reach. It was one planet they had yet failed to find.
Because heaven forbid we have combat in a Halo fanfic!
Faintly, sound of voices came to Renee’s ears, and she realized that John had heard them long before she could. She remembered how he had been able to hear Amy whispering, and cursed herself for being so stupid to not think of anything sooner.
I don’t think she’s thought of anything, ever!
As the voices grew nearer, John’s grip on her hand tightened, to the point where she felt pain shoot through her tendons as her bones were slightly squeezed together. She grimaced, but realized John wasn’t aware of how hard he was holding her.
His eyes were locked to the path ahead of them, the veins in his neck sticking out. Renee was just about to mention her hand, but John glanced down at her, and his grip loosened.
Motherfucking Halight Counter: 57
“I’d say hold me back, but you can’t.” John declared.
“The story in a nutshell.”
“Why? Who’s coming?” Renee asked,
but she had mentally answered her question before it came from her mouth.
John’s adrenaline spiked, his eyes were borderline carrying the expression that normally sent intimidation, or even fear, into a normal person who happened to catch the look. Renee exhaled :
At that moment, the memory flooded back to her, of him _kissing _her, and her facial expression showed it. She looked absolutely disgusted, and looked up to John, her eyes wild with disbelief, her mouth hanging slightly open, but she quickly closed it and looked away from John .
“Oh god, please forgive me, ” she muttered, clapping her hand to her mouth .
Ok, seriously, what the fuck?
Terrible Troy Counter: 116
“This is another one of those famous fractally-wrong Love of a Spartan passages. In ‘fic logic, Lieutenant Fisher took advantage of her after she was effectively incapacitated- in which case, what exactly does she need forgiveness for? Everything that happened supposedly happened against her will. And in real-world logic… well, precious little actually happened last night other than Renee biting on a male other than Edward-117, which sets even the bar for basic infidelity rather low.”
John didn’t get a chance to reply, for Troy, Amy, Josh, Blaine and Kirk came staggering into view. Kirk and Josh were holding Amy between them, her arms draped around their necks for support. Her head was hanging down on her chest, and she didn’t look good at all.
“You know, for all of their (completely unjustified) concern about Troy Fisher taking advantage of an intoxicated Kilburn, they seemed awfully sanguine about leaving Amy at the bar, in his presence, barely conscious and without any sort of supervision…”
John’s arm went lightning-quick around Renee’s shoulders, and he pulled her close protectively, stepping to the side of the path. Troy was leading the group, and he strutted importantly down the path, looking relatively sober. He glanced momentarily at John as he approached, his eyes daggers.
“Mornin’, Pasty,” Troy greeted him, making a rather rude reference to John’s paleness,
*AdmiralSakai grabs a megaphone. Then climbs with some difficulty up onto a nearby console. Then toes the control that activates the RIFFCON public address system.*
Thank you. That is all.
“How ya feelin?”
John didn’t say anything. He stared at Troy, his eyes black with anger. Renee avoided looking at Troy altogether, feeling absolutely disgusted with herself.
For about the eightieth time in this thing, I find myself torn between grumbling that it fucking took her long enough, and staring goggle-eyed at the implications of why she’d be feeling disgusted with herself right now.
She clenched her jaw nervously, her stomach flipping, knowing that this might not end nicely at all.
She glanced up without raising her head, and saw Troy had his arms folded on his chest, and he was looking at John patiently, as if he was expecting a response from him.
“Are you going to answer me?” Troy asked, but John didn’t as much as move a muscle. He looked like a giant statue. Troy shook his head, and glanced to Renee, “Well I guess if you’re not. I’ll just talk to Renee…”
Which, really, is what he should have done in the first place.
He took a step forward, but suddenly, there was a blur, and Renee’s head snapped up just in time to see John’s fist make contact with Troy’s face with a sickening smack. A loud crack accompanied it, and Troy’s head whipped to the side almost unrealistically. Renee gasped, along with Kirk, Josh, and Blaine. Amy, who was too dazed, didn’t do anything except for stare.
“Holy shit!” Blaine shouted, as Troy staggered backwards, and fell somewhat idiotically onto the concrete, landing on his butt, staring blankly. Dark red blood pooled from his mouth and dripped from his nose. He let out a little groan, then his eyes rolled back into his head, and he collapsed, clearly unconscious- or for all Renee knew, dead.
Terrible Troy Counter: …
“Ouch, ” Amy muttered, although she was too hung-over to do much else.
Blaine ran to Troy’s side, screaming rather dramatically, “You killed him!”
You fucking bastard.
John, who was breathing heavily, shoulders heaving and had veins sticking out of his neck, whipped around, grabbed Renee by the arm, and pulled her back, as she was still standing and staring.
“Let’s go,” John’s voice was the most dangerous tone she’d ever heard.
Which is really saying something in this ‘fic.
Renee allowed John to turn her around, and her legs moved automatically- but she was stunned in disbelief. She never thought John would punch Troy, especially not that hard. For a split second when John’s fist met Troy’s face, Renee thought his neck was going to snap, and his head would fly off into a nearby bush.
“What was that?” Renee demanded, panic rising in her voice. She found it hard to keep up with John’s quick strides, “Did you kill him? You didn’t kill him, right?”
John didn’t answer; instead, he grabbed Renee and literally threw her onto his back. She was too mortified to scream, and instinctively wrapped her arms around his neck, which was wet with perspiration.
Motherfucking Halight Counter: 58
She leaned around one side of his head, determined for an answer .
“You have to answer me!” She exclaimed, as John broke into a quick run. Though, he didn’t make any attempt to do as he was told as he sped through a bush, cleared a bench, and came to the large asphalt landing area, where he ran faster. Several hundred feet was covered in a few seconds, and Renee held on for dear life, despite her rising anger and slight fear that the reason why John wasn’t answering her was because Troy was actually dead.
“That, and because whenever her ‘mate’ is within fifty meters she essentially becomes an inanimate object.”
Actually, considering what happened during the separation ‘arc’, I don’t think there’s a range limit on it any more.
Anyway, the one-Spartan sprinting match eventually terminates in a sun-drenched clearing the middle of a dense forest. Because that doesn’t sound familiar in any way shape or form…
Motherfucking Halight Counter: 59
“A forest, connected to a landing field, which is connected to a public park, which is connected to a military base, which is located in the middle of an unnamed major city.”
“We’re alone now,” Renee said, watching as John lifted up one of his feet to look amusingly at the sole of the shoe. The amount of rubber that had been worn away in minutes was equivalent to the amount that would be worn away by a normal person who had done a year or so of good walking.
Umm… what? How? Was Edward really running so fast he was leaving behind a smoke trail?
John stopped examining his shoe, and straightened to full height, meeting her eyes. Renee glanced down momentarily to John’s right hand, which was covered in Troy’s blood, then back up to his eyes, which were still angry looking.
“You can answer my question now. Did you kill him?”
“No,” John replied, rather calmly, “Broke his jaw. Shattered his nose too I’m guessing, by the amount of blood that was coming from it. He passed out because of the pain. You would have known if I had killed him…” he trailed off, and clenched his hands into fists, “But I was so close. Luckily for him, he didn’t put up a fight. If he had…” he trailed off again, “But he deserved it, he had it coming for a long, long time… and last night, my patience finally ran out.”
This is not the sort of conversation one has with a sane, mentally-balanced individual.”
“I’m sorry,” Renee interrupted, breaking their eye contact. “I shouldn’t have gotten drunk, John, I was stupid to even think that it would make things better, especially when there was nothing wrong in the first place. Kelly lied, and I should have sensed it, I was so blind to believe her! It wasn’t just Troy, we both know he still likes me, and I basically acted in his favor by drinking that whiskey…”
You know, I’m not even going to touch that.
“Stop it, you don’t need to apologize,” John’s voice softened, and he pulled her close, guiding her head to his chest, “You don’t- you did enough of that last night.
“Implying that she did indeed need to apologize for her actions.”
Silly turian, don’t you know logic has no place here??
Troy took advantage of you; there was no way you could have expected that. A friend wouldn’t do such a thing;
Excluding, of course, all the times Edward-117 did such things…
the only thing you should be sorry for is to think you could actually trust him in the first place.” John tangled his hands in her soft hair, holding her even closer, “I don’t know everything about your relationship with Troy, but I know the Troy we know now is equivalent to the enemy.
Terrible Troy Counter: If being the enemy means I get to shoot at that horrible excuse for a Spartan, then sign me up for the Covenant! 117!
To think, if I hadn’t come there… he paused to clench and unclench his teeth, and he felt Renee grow tense, “What else he would’ve done to you. Rented a hotel room, or maybe not have even bothered. Maybe he would’ve just taken you out back and…”
“Be afraid, all you females! Be very, very afraid!”
Renee wastes two paragraphs attempting to go for a kiss, but the Chief blocks her.
“I’m sorry,” John exhaled, gritting his teeth together, “Just the thought of anyone else trying to do that to you, anyone else to kiss you… I’ll never allow it again.
“That really isn’t your decision to make.”
I should have been there; I shouldn’t have let you go with them. You’re mine, Renee, and only mine.”
Mine… miiiiiiine… my preeeeeeecious… ehkekekekeke!
He paused to let his fingers fall from her lips.
“John- Renee began, but he cut her off.
“Let me get this out,” John interrupted, “I think I finally know how to say this. I’ve been thinking a lot, and I think I’ve finally figured it out enough that I can put it into words.” He paused to exhale deeply.
“Before I met you, I lived to fight, I lived to die.
That sounds less like a member of the UNSC military than it does a motherfucking Elite.
Since I was little, I knew nothing else but guns and violence and how to kill, but when I met you, everything changed.
Immediately for the worse.
Now that I have you, I feel I have purpose now. I’m not just some emotionless gun-wielding super soldier anymore.
No, now you’re an overly emotional gun-wielding super soldier!
You’ve given me feelings and happiness and pleasure that I never even knew existed, never knew that I could feel. I don’t want to die; I have something to fight for now, instead of just to fight to win. I fight for you; I fight to make sure you’re safe and that nothing ever, ever happens to you.
“He’s done a pretty fine job of making sure that nothing ever, ever happens period.”
I’ve heard this said before, but I believe when I say this it’ll have more meaning and context than anyone has ever put into it, it’s literal. You mean everything to me.”
Renee didn’t say anything; instead she just looked into his eyes, allowing the sweetness of his surprisingly heart-wrenching words to take effect on her. Never before had someone expressed their love to her in such a way- she thought such confessions only existed in movies, where the almost unrealistic dialogue was written by screen writers who were paid generously to achieve the desirable effect for the movie goers.
Fortunately we have fan fiction, where unrealistic dialogue is given away for free.
“She spends a while essentially just sitting there basking in the meager afterglow of his ‘confession’… and then things get a bit more physical. Which seems to be happening a lot lately.”
The desire that was controlling the both of them had been bottled up- ever since they had been interrupted on the day John was called to leave the Hercules. This time, they were alone, in the middle of a forest. No one would walk in on them; their love could resume.
Considering that the forest is in the middle of a public park in a major city, I wouldn’t be too sure about the ‘nobody to walk in on them’ bit.
John lavished her with kisses as he unbuttoned her shirt- this time with careful and steady hands. He didn’t want to rip off any buttons this time. The shirt was removed and flung aside, and then he paused to let Renee remove his own shirt. Her hands were shakier, although had no buttons to undo. She pulled the muscle shirt up over his head, threw it aside, and then pressed her hands against his chest, a weak force, but John realized she was wanting to push him down.
“Why does it take these two longer to remove their shirts than it does to destroy a Covenant cruiser in ship-to-ship combat?”
He met her eyes, a little smirk coming to his lips,
and he allowed her to, and he lay back onto the grass, and she crawled over him. She planted kisses along his bare chest, starting low, down near his bellybutton, working her way up. As she did, she slid her small hands along his muscles, his abs, then up over the curve of his arms.
Seriously, we haven’t had this much description, of anything, since the ‘fic opener describing war-torn Capricornia.
“And I for one very much preferred war-torn Capricornia to this nonsense.”
She reached his face, and John held his breath and met her eyes, then in a second, had changed positions, he easily rolled over, so he was on top of her now. Not that he didn’t enjoy her kisses; it was just that John hated to not be the one in control. He had been the leader since he could remember, and he wasn’t about to make an exception, even for Renee.
He kissed her passionately, pressing her flat against the ground, holding her hands down. He felt her playfully trying to escape his grasp, but they both knew the efforts were pointless.
… Ok, seriously?
There’s… there’s not really a lot I can even say about this. If you need riffing to explain to you what’s wrong with this sort of behavior, I would recommend not attempting to form romantic relationships with other people.
“I’m a bit baffled myself. Based on our interactions with her, AshleyBudrick is not a stupid human. Did she really not realize how this sounded?”
He released her, only so he could run his hands down her tiny body. Her skin was so soft, and he bent down to kiss her collarbone, nibbling softly as he went.
It goes on like this. Literally for pages. But as for us… I think we’re done. Not just with the chapter, but with the whole entire ‘fic.
Terrible Troy Counter: 117, appropriately enough.
Mommy’s Little Marines (And Spartans) Counter: 123
MotherFUCKING Halight Counter: 59
You’ll be getting this thing on a different schedule because of posting delays, but I’ve been working on Love of a Spartan for a little bit over a year now on and off, and I’ve still basically only gotten halfway through the thing. I’ve been working on a lot of other projects in the meantime- mods, tabletop games, my own fanfiction, and of course the titanic pile technical crises that is a Master’s thesis- so it wasn’t like I was sitting down with it every single day, but still. In the beginning it was fun to do, but over time working on these things has become a chore, and I think there are a number of good reasons for that.
For one thing, the story does get somewhat better as it goes on- it doesn’t exactly become Halo 2 levels of quality, of course, but a lot of the really silly stuff I like to poke fun at goes away. For another thing, even as it gets better it kind of keeps repeating the same flaws over and over again- the characters go through the same loops of lack-of-development over and over again, and there’s really only so many jokes a person can make about the Master Chief being a douchebag boyfriend or Troy getting shit pinned on him that wasn’t really his fault. I don’t think additional riffs would be fun to write, and more importantly I don’t think they’d be very fun to read, so I figure it would be best to just stop the story here.
Don’t feel like you’re missing too much- really, given the exponential decay in the ‘fic’s pacing it shouldn’t surprise you that not a lot worth remarking on happens in the second half. Mostly it focuses on the Chief and the Marines trying to hold off the Covenant on another colony world called Hydra, and the military element is once again not terribly written. Fuck-Shit the Ossoona does get a really weird scene where he corners a bunch of civilian colonists, gets all melty inside, and tells them to scram lest they get hurt that really did make me think he was going to defect to the UNSC and end up with Amy Smythe or something equally asinine, but in fact both he and Troy Fisher are killed in action not long after. Beyond that… there might be some horrible thing that I’m missing, but overall my skimming gave me the impression that it’s just a lukewarm military procedural with a few bits of character development we can’t be arsed to care about- a Haloverse American Sniper, if you will.
I have been reading up on the rewrite, and while as of mid November I’m not quite sure where it’s going but it’s still head and shoulders above the original. Given how helpful and supportive she’s been of this whole process- I really do feel like I’ve been working with her on it, not just dissecting her writing, and I really do hope we can continue to interact- a while back I shot AshleyBudrick a PM informing her that I was closing off the review, and asking her if she had anything she wanted to add about the Library, the story, the trajectory of her writing since, or fanfiction in general, and indeed she did:
I’d be more than happy to throw in my two cents. Also, thank you for taking the time to read and review what I’ve completed so far with the rewrite. It’s just a side project I’ve got going but I’m glad to see that so far it’s being received fairly well.
I don’t have too much to say about the original in its defence. I started writing it when I was about 14-15, had little to no experience with romance, the average knowledge expected of a casual Halo player and absolutely no military experience. I was rather naive and it is reflected in my writing and my characters. The plot was largely made up as I went along, however with some later chapters later on I actually took the time to roughly plot them out. I tried to do my best with staying true to the canon and did quite a bit of research into the Halo lore, although at times I got lazy with it. My writing skills were far from polished, and the slow evolution of that could be seen as the story progressed, especially with the sequel. Of course it’s all easy to see now – the cliches, the errors and the cringe-worthy attempts at romance. Ultimately, the story came to be because I had a wild imagination, I loved Halo, I loved to write and I had a lot of free time. It was one of my first longer pieces of FanFiction and the very first one that actual garnered any kind of popular following, and for that it still has a special meaning to me, as flawed as it is.
Stumbling across the review of it on the Library didn’t really come as too much of a shock. For the longest time, Love of a Spartan had received tons of praise and very little criticism. It’s about time that it was called out for what it was and critiqued accordingly. I realised over time that the series – the original especially – had quite a bit of flaws, but it was reflective of a certain time period in my life as a writer and I had really no motivation to go back and change it. I had moved away from Fanfiction the last couple of years and have been focused on my original pieces – most recently with working on my first novel. I’m happy to say, however, that after reading the Library’s reviews I found myself strangely inspired me to go back and consider a rewrite. I’m finished my first draft of my novel and I’m going through the waiting game of trying to find a publishing agent. So in my free time I dug up the Love of a Spartan file and off I went. I used the Library’s criticism as a crucial guide as I began editing. I also rely on how I’ve changed since I began way back in ’07. I’ve been largely shaped by four years and counting of military service, not to give a nod to the blurry and irresponsible university years. I feel like I can provide a story and characters that are much more raw and rough around the edges compared to the childish fluff of the original. There’s still an element of romance, or realistically, just the emotion of love and two people struggling to keep it from getting them killed. I realise there will still be people who dismiss the story just based on the plot alone, but I’m looking forward to the rewrite and I’m doing it as much for myself as I am for people who enjoyed (and disliked) the original. I owe a huge thanks to the Library for the motivation. That’s one point that I think I have mentioned before that I would like to reiterate: authors who find their works on the site should use it as a tool to attempt to better themselves. Writing is always something that can be improved.
Let me know if you have any specific questions about anything that I didn’t answer above.
She was also kind enough to answer a few questions for me regarding some things that had been bothering me since the beginning of the story- if you have questions of your own, she mentioned she’d be trawling the comments section a day or two after this goes up, so she’ll be able to answer them directly:
Were Troy, Amy, and Renee based on real people?
Troy, Amy and Renee all have traits taken from people I knew in real life, although most of the people have changed since the original, as the characters themselves have evolved.
Originally, Troy was loosely based on a guy I had a crush on in middle school. He was a bit of an asshole, but was always the class-clown. With the rewrite, I draw traits from a few senior NCOs and officers I work with. I also take inspiration from my own personal service relationship. We’re both with the same unit and he’s of a higher rank than I am, so I’m familiar with the struggle of maintaining professionalism while everyone knows you’re in a relationship. There’s also a bit of a power struggle as well. It can be hard to shut off at the end of the day, but ultimately there’s that mutual understanding of the job and the lifestyle that proves vital to the relationship.
Amy was, and still is, based off a long-time friend of mine who always speaks her mind and can come off as obnoxious and vulgar to anyone who doesn’t know what to expect from her. But at the end of the day she always gave me good advice so I figured that kind of a character be a good companion to Renee who is a bit less outgoing (in the original, anyway).
For Renee, I drew inspiration from a friend of mine in high school who was really short and always looked cute and innocent, but could be feisty when she needed to be. In the rewrite, I’ve definitely included some of my own traits and traits shared in general by female soldiers. You’ve got to be tough, and in any combat trade, women have to try twice as hard. We also adopt some nasty habits: hence the increase of the cursing, nicotine and alcohol in the rewrite. They’re a part of daily life in the military.
I noticed that in the remake Amy was kept basically the same (only much, MUCH less annoying) and Troy was pretty much completely replaced. Any particular reason?
I changed Troy’s character because he needed to be way more mature. Officers simply don’t act like he did in the original. In the rewrite, he’ll still be the antagonist of sorts, but he’ll mind his rank and keep his quarrels mostly behind closed doors. I also wanted the relationship between him and Natalie to be current when the story started, that way we’ll better understand that he still cares for her and his actions can be contributed to jealousy and frustration as opposed to just being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole.
Amy I kept mostly the same, mainly because I can really have fun with her character. You never know what she’s really going to say next (although like you said, she’s way less annoying). However, in the rewrite she isn’t getting as many scenes. I’m cutting out a lot of meaningless conversations in order to make the story flow faster, and a lot of those conversations involved Amy. She’ll still be there as a support to Natalie, though.
Did you actually take inspiration from the Twilight series for the original ‘fic, or are the parallels just coincidental? IIRC Twimania was just barely starting in the US back in 2007, so while I’ve run into some scenes that really remind me of Twilight I’m not even sure if you’d managed to encounter the series at that time.
Negative on that one. I was never a fan of the series. I had friends that went batshit over it, and all the annoying hype really turned me off ever reading/watching it. The original just bears some unfortunate coincidences, I guess.
Do you consider yourself a member of any other fandoms besides Halo?
Around the same time as I was writing this, I was a big fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean, and had a few fics posted on here. My obsession waned, though, although I do still enjoy the movies (the original trilogy at least). On the gaming side, I enjoy Skyrim as well. I can’t say I’m largely devoted to any fandom nowadays, mainly because I don’t really have time to keep up with anything. I’m so far behind in the Halo canon even, it’s not funny.
What’s your opinion on the newer games (4, 5, and possibly including Halo Reach)?
ODST was the last game that I can say I played the campaign more than once. Reach was pretty good, but I didn’t feel as connected to the characters. I played through the Halo 4 campaign in one sitting when it came out and that was it. To me, it wasn’t near as memorable as any of the games in the original trilogy, and personally, I think it would have been fine ending with Halo 3 and ODST. The story felt finished in a way. I don’t own an Xbox One, so I haven’t played 5. I’ll openly admit I’m an old school Halo fan. There’s that awesome feeling of nostalgia of playing Combat Evolved as a kid on the old Xbox. Maybe I’ll attempt to get caught up with the series eventually, if I ever have time.
How much outlining did you do before writing the original? What about the rewrite?
I did moderate amounts of research for the original, including buying the Halo Encyclopedia book that came out several years ago. I’d also resort back to Halo: Reach and Halo: The Flood when I wanted to check certain factual details and refresh myself on how they portrayed and described John 117. I didn’t have to worry too much the story clashing with canon occurrences as the first story of the series occurs nearly 20 years prior to the novel Reach or the game Combat Evolved. I actually remember putting in a lot of work to actually make sure that this happened, in order to at least make the timeline plausible.
The same went for the sequel, which picked up where Halo 3 left off. Of course, when Halo 4 came out a few years later, it made the story completely AU. But even then, I still had quite a few people willing to accept it for what it was.
So far in the rewrite I haven’t done too much research. A lot of the errors I’m picking up are grammatical or I can correct simply based on my own knowledge of how the military operates. I’ve double-checked a fact or two. I might end up having to do more later.
For the planning aspect, I made loose timelines for some chapters but for others, I completely winged it and went on wherever my imagination took me. In the original I think it shows, and not necessarily in a good way.
In the rewrite, I always compare the chapter I’m rewriting to the original. Not much, if anything, stays the same. I rewrite it all. I also make a plan of what I want to happen each chapter and make note of the changes to the original. Also, currently I’ve cut the length down by several thousand words, thus completely eliminating a couple of chapters. Right now, I just finished Chapter 9 of the rewrite. In the original, it would compare to Chapter 11. It’s definitely more of a quality over quantity approach.
I for one think this is kind of a stupid question, but if I don’t ask it someone else will- did being a Halo fan influence your decision to sign up for the Army IRL?
There might have been a small part of me that was influenced by Halo when I enlisted – I was just 16 when I started my application process – but the main factor for me was that I wanted a well-paying career that offered exciting opportunities. I come from a small rural town, where jobs are scarce and good jobs are almost non-existent. I was going into university and knew that the things I was naturally good at (writing and art) wouldn’t necessarily guarantee me a job once I was done. So I signed up for the army.
I’m not really sure where to go from here, but I’ll probably be taking a break from riffing for a little while- as I said, I have a lot of other creative projects currently being juggled that I’d like to move somewhat close to finishing, and I really don’t want to have to deal with another weekly intrusion from the world of bad fanfiction. One of those projects, though, is a series of supplemental ttRPG rulebooks and campaigns for the Call of Cthulhu setting that Nina is from- if people here are interested, I could provide links as they get done.
As it stands, though, I think we’ve done a very good service to the world of fanfiction not really by knocking Love of a Spartan down like we might an EclipsePheniox or DakariKingMykan ‘fic, but by pointing out the story’s flaws to assist the author in fixing them. That’s still kind of a rare opportunity for us, and I’ve been honored to have been able to-
Hang on, I’m almost done…
“Aren’t we… forgetting something?”
What, the signout? Well, there can’t really be a ‘next time’ because I don’t really know what I’m going to-
“Leave no man behind?”
*Typing rapidly at seemingly random consoles around the room, AdmiralSakai initiates a series of complicated abuses of high-energy physics. Following a bewildering light show that would be quite impressive could the narration be arsed to describe it, a young human male with a blond crew-cut and smudged Marine-issue fatigues sits slumped in an empty rollie-chair, the blood that was until a few moment ago seeping from his mouth and nose gradually sublimating into the air. He begins to stir.*
*Troy Fisher opens his eyes, and slowly focuses on Sakai’s white labcoat.*
“Are… are you a doctor?”
Going to be, but lucky for you not a medical one.
“How did you manage to fix his jaw, anyway? You’ve got all the surgical precision of an amphetamine-addicted vorcha. That was being electrocuted. While on fire.”
I just gave him a shot of some of that green stuff that’s in all the first aid kits. I still haven’t nailed down exactly where it fits in the Standard Model yet, much less on the Periodic Table, but a couple of drops is enough to both seal up gunshot wounds and dissolve any bullets that are still inside of you, so I think he’ll be all right.
*Fisher turns in his chair, and comes face-to-mandibles with Commissar Gul Rillek. He turns his chair away again, and appears to count the number of ceiling tiles in the control room several times. He turns back, seemingly profoundly disappointed to find that the turian officer is still there.*
“… Guess that Spartan must’ve hit me harder than I thought.”
*Suddenly, Troy leans over and kisses Rillek hard on the mouth.*
“… All right, we have got to do something about that, immediately.”
“About what? Also, Doc, the underside of my tongue tastes like chicken all of a sudden- is that normal?”
Sorry to disappoint you, Lieutenant, but there is no such thing as normal here.
“Is… is this Hell?”
Yes, just not for you.
“You’ve been given the opportunity to help the Admiral and I deal with a number of very grave threats to sanity and sense in the multiverse. You’re free to refuse- nobody will think less of you if you do, and you can leave here at any time for your home or wherever else you’d like. But we’d be honored to have you fighting alongside us.”
“What do you mean?”
Well, for starters…
*The Admiral types in another string of commands, and a pair of female humans materialize in the control room. Both are wearing Marine-issue uniforms, although one’s is substantially more intact than the other’s.*
“You… you exfictionated Kilburn and Smythe??”
Indeed I did. Because now they’re someplace a certain Spartan won’t be able to beat up anyone who takes them to task for their aberrant behavior. *Smiles demonically.* That means it’s going to be up to you, Troy, Nina, and the Arbiter to see if you can whip them into shape.
“I think I have just the way to start!” *Rillek motions to the trio of digital readouts mounted over the main desk.* “This right here is the Terrible Troy Counter. This is the Mommy’s Little Marines counter. Each mark on either of them is worth a push-up.”
And… the Halight counter?
“Laps around the base. Now, the Admiral and I are going to have to be off to show Lieutenant Fisher around the habitable sections, and you’d best be done by the time we get back. I’d suggest you get started.”