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086, Irvine by Vinziah Arcus

086, Irvine - Chapter One
Date: 19 March 2007, 9:45 am

Hi, welcome to 086, Irvine, some of you may remember this story being posted waaaaaay back by me but this is a completely different version. I'm not sure if rewrites are generally sort of frowned upon here or what, but this really is very different to the original. The whole thing is finished so depending on whether or not you all like this chapter, I'll put up the others.

Thanks and enjoy!

2330 Hours, January 12, 2524 (Military Calendar) /
Spartan Training Mission: Capture The Flag
Epsilon Eridani System, Exact Location Unknown,
Planet Reach

      The Spartan crawled prone through a tangle of wet vines, soggy leaves, and shimmering bushes. Moonlight glistened off a dog tag.

      IRVINE – 086 paused to get his bearing, to his right stood a forest weeping darkness. A canopy of thick branch and saturated leaf shielded the forest's dirt floor of knotted roots from the brightest of light from tonight's full moon. The forest melted away into high grass and sodden greenery. This natural abundance of life gave way quite suddenly to damp dirt and a six metre fall to his right.

      Irvine was alone. He smiled at the thought of the rest of his team. None of them would have actually wanted to join him had he given them the chance. He had snuck away from his post on watch around the Spartan's temporary campsite to retrieve the flag on his own. He didn't need the help of the rest of them. Besides, he was the oldest.

      086 was fourteen as of that morning. The Spartans were supposed to celebrate one common birthday, about six months later, but Irvine had decided to celebrate his own, even if no one else acknowledged it. He had been aged seven and a month when he was kidnapped. It seemed that in those extra months Spartan number oh-eighty-six developed an eternal sense of independence. He refused to work with the other Spartans, he refused to let himself become a military puppet and he refused to accept that his life had been taken away from him for the greater good.

      Irvine was the best in the program. He was the third most intelligent, the second most agile and the fourth strongest. By his reckoning this made him the overall most capable Spartan. So what would he need the others for?

      He continued on his journey through the grass. A trail of flattened plants lay in his wake. From anywhere over a metre away in the dark, that trail was the only evidence of the Spartan's presence. He moved with natural guile, crawling forward silently and invisibly.

      The sound of a single-seater helicopter beginning to lift off filled the air. Irvine rolled twice towards the cliff edge. His entire left side hung over the edge. As he peeked into the gulch the target base was built into the helicopter forced itself off the ground and swung around to face him. In a split second he rolled back and dug his face into the dirt.

      A flashlight beamed on to his right and drew painstakingly slowly towards his back. Irvine's adrenaline spiked, his heart rate increased by 50 and a smile tugged at his dirt-encrusted lips.

      The circle of light drifted over Irvine's motionless body and then back down the trail of flattened greenery. The pilot looked down for a second to pick up his walkie talkie. As the man spoke into the gadget he looked back at his discovery. The figure had disappeared.

      Suddenly there was an explosion of sparks from the far side of the camp and the illumination from the six ten metre high lights flickered and faded. More lights from inside tents and around the helicopter pad consecutively short-circuited.

      The pilot swore into his radio but only static replied from the other side.

      Men with cigars dropping from their mouths and disintegrating beneath their feet fumbled out of tents with Assault Rifles and fired into the darkness, the white flicker of muzzle flashes appeared randomly around the camp and bullets tore dangerously into the night.

      A flick of white illuminated a leg for a split second as it's owner sprinted with one thing more than his pursuers: direction.

      "Over here!"

      Live rounds flew past Irvine as he ran towards the flag pole, illuminated for barely half a second.

      "Torches for god's sake! Who knows what the hell you buggers are shooting at?!"

      The muzzle flashes ceased. The firing halted and murmurs broke out from everywhere around the camp.

      Finally a torch flicked on. The user adjusted the beam and waved it around the camp. Four more followed. The lights paused over hole-ridden tents and surrounding trees. One light swept up the unconscious body of a soldier lying about four metres from the flagpole.


      The other torches slowly ran up the length of the pole.

      The flag was nowhere to be seen.

      "Find him! He has to be around here somewhere, none of even those freaks are good enough to have gotten away from here that quickly!"

      Forty-five minutes later Spartan 117 woke. He checked his watch and swore. That pain in the ass Irvine was supposed to have woken the rest of the Spartans twenty minutes ago, twenty minutes could mean the success or failure of any mission. Why the hell couldn't he just behave for once?

      John pulled himself to his feet and stretched, looking through the slowly subsiding darkness at the rest of his team. His eyes slowly scanned across the group until they reached a massive oak tree. Resting at the base of the monolith was a sleeping Spartan 086, wrapped tightly in a UNSC flag.

2145 Hours March 22, 2525 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Office of Naval Intelligence
Medical Facility, in orbit around planet Reach

      Irvine's eyes flicked open suddenly, and he jolted upright. He drew a deep breath of air in shock. The cold air tasted sterile but it was refreshing and he allowed his heavy head to drop back to the pillow. His brain acknowledged the state of the air, releasing a flood of memories. He had been drugged after protesting rather violently against the operation… The operation.

      The last thing he'd seen was a blurring image of Catherine Halsey – he never called her a doctor- watching him, unblinkingly, with a deep look of resent in her moistening eyes. Then the sedative had kicked him in the gut and he'd doubled over, unconscious.

      He allowed his head to roll towards a monitor. As it did so, he couldn't help noticing the fan on the roof was broken: It was spinning far too slowly to have any cooling effect. But couldn't he feel the air flowing over him?

      He looked at the reading on the monitor. It too, he thought, must have been broken because it was kicking up at a dangerously slow rate, yet it also reported his heart was beating at a speed of somewhere between 102 and 103 beats per minute. Suddenly a shrill beep rang out and a roar of sounds followed: conversations, footsteps, a phone ringing, several toilets flushing and so much more. Irvine's hands flew to his ears at an impossible speed, not that he noticed through the din. He screamed out silently and his jaw muscles throbbed.

      The sound slowly subsided to a distant level. Irvine felt hung over the way his father used to be after coming home at four in the morning. My Father?

      The oldest of Irvine's memories resurfaced like a school of dead fish. He hadn't thought of his father in years. He was unaware such memories still existed, but on some level they must have. Images raced through his mind. Too much. His family. His Friends. His school. His Parents. His parents…?

      Too much, it was too much.

      He was too quickly aware of too much. His limbs were heavy, his muscles were weak, his eyes hurt, everything moved so slowly… so slowly...

      The monitor began to beep more rapidly. His heart rate jumped to 164 , then 187.

      A man in a sterile suit burst into the room and raced over to the monitor, he began fiddling with something over Irvine's head.

      Irvine observed, in his declining state, the curtain as it slowly swayed back and forth, losing momentum with every movement, steadying itself after being thrown aside. He turned his head up at the man. The light on the roof was very bright. It began to absorb everything else he could see and grow to fill his vision. Irvine continued to strain his eyes and watch the man. He wore tight, thin, white gloves and a mask thing over his mouth; do they have a special name for those? He wondered. What about those hairnet sorts of things?

      The man looked down at Irvine, the shape of the 'mask thing' changed and stretched which Irvine decided meant the man was talking, though he couldn't hear any words, just a long dreadful ping sound.

      The white light filled his vision, he could see nothing else.

      Too much was still running through his mind.

      Too much… Too much… Too much…

086, Irvine - Chapter Two
Date: 27 March 2007, 8:30 am

2000 Hours, March 23, 2525 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Office of Naval Intelligence Medical Facility
Planet Reach

      Irvine awoke once more, this time with less shock. His head was facing a curtain wall, he didn't bother to move
      it. The pillow beneath him felt unfamiliar. The pain was gone. A tube was sticking out of his arm through which painkillers were constantly streaming.

      The memories were still there, he had dreamt of them. He forced them to the back of his mind with difficulty.

      Irvine rolled to the other side of the bed, dragging thin uncomfortable hospital sheets with him. He looked around the room. Catherine Halsey was slumped in a chair in the corner of the small 5 x 5 metre compartment. Her glasses had slipped down to the edge of her nose where they swung precariously with every breath she took in. An untouched glass of something alcoholic was sitting on the edge of a bedside cabinet between the bed and the chair. An empty foam cup squatted next to it.

      Irvine reached forward to the end of the bed and grabbed a clipboard. At the top, written in a different colour to the other lines and by a different hand, read: "Maximum hourly dosage – Pain Killers" and "Subject displaying signs of mental discomfort, otherwise healthy and recovering."

      A checklist of augmentations had been ticked off with notes scribbled beside each one. He ran down the list silently. Nothing surprising, and then… "Shit…" he swore under his breath as he read the last line: 'Suppressed sexual drive.'

      Catherine stirred and reflexively adjusted her glasses before yawning and rubbing her eyes. Irvine watched, unmoving, not a flash of emotion escaped from his glare.

      "Irvine," Halsey spoke with equal impassiveness "Your awake, have a good sleep?"

      Irvine silently replaced the chart and lay back down.

      "You've been moved from the others, Irvine, down to the planet." After several seconds of silence from Irvine who didn't in the least acknowledge the doctor but pretended to count the roof tiles, Catherine continued, "I know you Irvine, better than anyone else. I accept that you resent what's being done to you. I feel the same way."

      Irvine didn't bite.

      Catherine's voice softened and she leaned forward closer to Irvine, "I'm afraid there is nothing that anyone can do for you any more. The only option is for you to change. As unfair and cruel as it sounds, that's the only way."

      I can think of another, thought Irvine. He bit his lip.

      Catherine leaned back and sighed outwardly. She stood and brushed a crease from the lab coat she was never seen without. She adjusted her glasses once more, grabbed the foam cup, peered inside and placed it back on the table.

      As she walked from the room she turned and looked into Irvine's eyes which were still fixed on the ceiling, "Now… If you'll excuse me I have less selfish Spartans waking up in orbit who deserve my attention…"

      Irvine threw himself forward, sitting upright with fire in his eyes, "Selfish? Selfish?! You take my life away from me at the age of seven, force me to become one of your emotionless, killing, super-soldiers and I'm selfish?! How dare you?!"

      Catherine met his relentless gaze, "Perhaps 'selfish' wasn't the right word to use…" she remarked idly and walked out, leaving Irvine to sit, fuming, his chest heaving, in the bed.

      Irvine knew that 'Selfish' had indeed been the word Halsey had intended to use, such a woman as herself would never be so impractical. She had succeeded in stirring him up though, and he was as angry with himself as he was with her.

      He looked around the room, his sharp eyes somehow taking in more detail than usual. He began to force all those hindering thoughts from his mind, there would be time for those later, but right now it was time to escape the Spartan II project.

1330 Hours, April 29, 2520 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex,
Planet Reach

      Deja floated at the front of the class, wrapping up the Spartans previous mathematical topic: Algebra II and it's application to battle strategy.

      Irvine sat with his head lying horizontally on the desk at the back of the classroom, drawing circles in the sawdust he'd carved out from his seat.

      As she spoke, Deja observed with wonder the miserable Spartan who managed to absorb every piece of information she fed to him without listening to a word of it. Well, perhaps her next topic would interest him.

      As she introduced Stealth to the class Irvine showed no discernible interest - at least not to anyone with a capacity less than that of Deja. She picked up on miniscule spikes in the boy's pulse and respiration, the vaguest signs of interest.

      Over the next fortnight of lessons the seventy-four Spartans learnt of and practiced stealth. Irvine excelled. The child could practically become invisible. During a game of hide and seek he had remained undiscovered for six hours and was only found then with the use of thermal photography. He had stolen scent cover from somewhere – none of the officials were aware they had any – and hidden beneath the loose floorboards in the mess hall. What was so miraculous about that was that the hall had been cleaned that day and no-one had seen any sign of the Spartan.

      086 Persisted with his uninterested cover but from then on stealth was his first choice to overcome any obstacle, he incorporated it unimaginably into a wide range of scenarios and began to learn ways of combining stealth with his other skills. Very soon he became a most outstanding student and formidable opponent.

2015 Hours, March 23, 2525 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Office of Naval Intelligence Medical Facility
Planet Reach

      Irvine stood in the middle of the room He had awoken in.

      Two adjacent walls stood with an automatic door on one side of the room, the other side was blocked off by curtains, but upon inspection Irvine found there was nothing behind these but extra space for surgery.

      Irvine could see through the stained glass of the door that there were two armed guards standing on the other side of the wall and that a security camera was focused on the men at all times.

      There was also a camera in his room. It's lens reflected a distorted image of the tall youth, dressed in a hospital gown, standing uneasily for the first time in weeks. The camera was placed directly above the door but was angled too evenly for it to actually it; instead it was aimed up to have a better view of the rest of the room.

      Irvine looked emotionlessly into the lens before calmly walking forward and standing with his back to the wall, to the right of the door and below the camera's field of vision. He stood just far enough away from the door and so close to the wall that when the automatic door sensed him and slid open and the guard on the left turned to find out what had triggered it, Irvine remained unseen.

      The guard to the left jerked his thumb into the room and the guard on the right took out his magnum sidearm and swung around the door in what he thought was a swift motion but Irvine saw as a sluggish one.

      The guard scanned the room from his right to left with his gun held out straight in front of him. The man was rather large, at least seven foot, and particularly bulky. As Irvine appeared in his vision he had what seemed to be no time at all to react, the Spartan grabbed the gun by the barrel with both hands and wrenched it from the man's grip.

      As soon as the gun was free Irvine reversed his motion and struck the man twice on the forehead with the gun's butt. He stepped back to make space for a solid kick into the man's groin. He lifted his leg and straightened his knee in a lightning fast movement. His shoeless foot found the guards soft organs and squashed them against his pelvis.

      The man doubled over, an almost comically pained expression on his face, clutching his injured appendage as the other guard entered the room.

      This guard was equally built but already had his gun trained on the boy. Irvine unleashed another kick at the gun a moment before it fired. The pistol spun through the air, flashing over the view of the security camera for a fraction of a second.

      Pain shot up Irvine's leg from the bones at the top of his foot. Amazingly though, they were still intact. The stray bullet from the gun embedded itself in the wall behind the Spartan.

      The guard, who had been watching his gun spinning over his head, looked down in time to see a large fist rapidly growing in size before he toppled backward, tripped over his unconscious comrade and smacked his head on the tiled floor, bloody, obliterated nose and all.

      Irvine poked his head around the doorframe, pistol in hand. No-one else was in the hallway. He lifted the magnum, leveled it at the camera, who's black lens paused and zoomed in on the crumpled bodies next to the scowling teenager, and fired. A bullet smashed through the center of the lens and into the inner-workings of the camera which blew up with a shower of sparks.

      As a siren blared out around the complex, Irvine set off swiftly down the corridor.