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Worth Fighting For; CH 1: Farewell
Posted By: DevilsInjector<mj-power@hotmail.com>
Date: 7 December 2008, 6:08 pm

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0430 Hours, November 12, 2545
The Dead End Bar, Chicago portion of The Zone,
Planet Earth

Arther Conlin brought the glass to his lips, and took a drink for the amber colored liquor within. He placed it down with a clink. "So Steve, how often do you go off planet?" Arther asked. The bartender looked up from the cash register,

"I don't, I stick around 'ere and do some of the recruiting."
"That doesn't sound too exciting."

Steve chuckled, "Its not, but it sure as hell stops me from getting my ass blown off!"
Arther took another drink from his glass, and then popped some of the ice in his mouth. "Yeah… that seems like a good deal." Arther, just turning 22, has thought it over a lot. He'd enlist tomorrow. There's gotta be more to this, he'd always say to himself. He downed the liquor and threw the money on the counter. "G'night Steve." He said, as he meandered out of the bar.
A cold breeze blew the tail of his coat up, away from his body. He stumbled down the street, almost running over homeless man, sleeping amongst some garbage bags. The 4 glasses of whiskey weren't doing anything for warmth, so he tucked his coat around himself, and buttoned up the collar strap, clumsily.
He stopped walking, and turned around. Three teenagers, we're harassing the homeless man. "H-hey," he yelled, "Leave him alone will ya?" He walked up and pulled the tallest of the three off the man, and shoved him towards the road.
"Hey, what the fuck d'ya think you're doin'?" the teenager asked. Arther turned towards him, but hesitated. The teen had a knife out, and was advancing on him. Arther stood a little straighter, and shoved his chest out a bit. This only produced chuckles from the teens – Arther, being 6'1 and 160 pounds, was not a very imposing figure – and caused them to circle around him.
One of the teens had 4 rings on his right hand, and one had a pair of brass knuckles. Rings, was the first to take a swing. Maybe, if he was not drunk, Arther would have noticed this, but failed to in his current inebriated state. The blow connected with his nose, and sent him to his knees.
Knuckles, straight kicked him in the ribs, and Arther rolled with the blow, slowly coming to his feet.
Knifes took a lunge and luckily for Arther, the pain kept him alert, and he sidestepped the attack and snapped the teens arm up and back, causing the knife to clatter to the concrete. Using his arm for leverage, he brought the teens face down, and slammed it off his knee. He threw him to the ground. Knuckles hesitated, turned and ran off down the street, while Rings helped his fallen comrade to his feet and in turn, they too ran off.
The homeless man stirred, "Taught them punks a lesson," He stood and brushed the dirt off his tattered clothes (not that it helped much), "Thanks." Arther dug deep into his coat pocket and handed the man a twenty, and walked off. He heard the man holler something, but a strong gust of wind bellowed at his eardrums. Arther raised a hand to his face, trying to shoo away the cold and only just noticed that he was bleeding.
He looked at the street sign, and grunted in approval. Good, he thought to himself, only a block from home. He quickly shuffled off, and turned the next corner. He double stepped up to his walk in apartment and thumbed the security switch. A quick fingerprint check, and the door opened. Up a flight of steps and a left turn put him right in front of his door. This time, he fumbled for a key and pushed it into the lock.
He turned the handle and the door opened. Arther threw his coat over the back of the sofa, and walked to the bathroom, all the while stripping off various articles of clothing, checking for blood. He tossed the dirty clothes into the hamper, and looked in the mirror.
His hair was a mess, and he was smeared with blood. He turned on the taps, and waited for the heat to build up, then dropped a facecloth in the water, and added a generous amount of soap as well.
He reached for the cloth, recoiled for a second, and snatched it out of the water. He scrubbed away at his face, and then brought it up over the top of his head, wetting his hair. He eyed the tattoo along his hairline, a cover up for an age-old scar, compliments of a rowdy drunk high school student. Arther banished the day from his mind and went to work getting a shower ready.
As he waited for heat, he eyed the thick strand of electric blue through his hair in the already rapidly fogging mirror. Though still visible, the roots were starting to show, he'd need to get it touched up. He quietly laughed to himself as he thought about the day he'd gotten it dyed. And how people in the street looked at him so strangely. It was not normal for a man to dye his hair anymore, and the select few who did, were criticized for it.
He slowly turned and slid into the shower. The hot water relaxed him, as he washed out his hair and lathered his body, but also made him rather tired. He turned off the water, stepped out, and wrapped a towel around himself.
"Damn," he said as he stepped into his living room/kitchen area, "What a friggin' mess." He hadn't cleaned his house in 2 weeks, and it was starting to clutter. He knew if he cleaned it too much though, he'd never find anything ever again. He slipped into a pair of pajama bottoms and fell over the arm of the couch.
He turned on the T.V, to the news channel. Within five minutes of turning it on, reports were coming in about these so-called "Spartans" and ANOTHER successful ground battle. He'd heard so much about these Spartans since they revealed them years ago. Though, other than pictures, he'd never seen one. He turned to the music channel, and drifted off to sleep.

He awoke hours later, as the coffee machine turned on, with its alarm and welcoming aroma of "Jack Daniels Irish Cream Coffee Mix". He stood up, and stretched, shuffled to the mail slot, and picked up the notices and flyers. He looked towards the door, and noticed a letter stuck in the slot. He picked it out; it read "UNSC, what WE can do for YOU!" "Woohoo, who gives a shit." He'd gotten sick and tired of the propaganda. He'd enlist – like he was going to today – in his own sweet time. He picked up a remote and turned on the radio, the weather blared from the speakers, and he promptly turned it down. "Lovely day today folks, 7 and sunny, but it feels like 10. Don't forget to bundle up! And now, a word from our local UNSC spokesperson…" Arther quickly turned it off.
He'd heard the message twenty times, and didn't plan on hearing it again. The spokespersons voice grated in your head. He made a thermos of coffee, walked into his room and started to get dressed. He picked from the only two colors he wore (black and white), and dressed.
He pulled a coat out of the closet, and proceeded to the door. He grabbed his keys on the way out.
Arther walked down the steps, around to the driver's side of the car, tapped in a code on the panel next to the door, and climbed in. He thumbed the ignition, and the car sputtered to life. "Were is the closest drug store?" The on-board computer checked, and said aloud, "Wilkinson and son's; 12 blocks north." Arther put on his seatbelt, "Drive." The car pulled out and drove off down the street.
Arther placed the thermos in the cup holder, and looked out the window in thought. A couple ran down the street after two rowdy boys, and a older man struggled to get up the incline, until a younger man walked up and helped.
His son perhaps, or maybe one of the few good people left in Chicago. Well you can't really call it that anymore, its "The Zone" now, but the people inhabiting The Zone, still call themselves American.
Arther was not "American", but then again no one was, so he did not see why it mattered. They were part of the UN now. The Zone was created years back, to prevent inter-planetary conflicts (gangs, mafia; everything along those lines) but was more so created to prevent a rebellion.
But instead of SMALL gangs, we have one BIG gang. Instead of MULTIPLE mafias, we have one LARGE mafia. So it didn't really help. A chorus of beeps jostled Arther from his normally peaceful thoughts. "Answer." He muttered.
The face of a pretty woman popped up on the screen of the on-board computer, when she saw Arther's features her brow furrowed, and her smile turned to a frown. "Hiya grumpy, you don't look so good." she said. Arther looked at the screen. Good, he thought, she's in her car. "Meredith, meet me at the Wilkinson drug store," he said, "Ill be waiting in my car."
She slowly nodded, recognizing the name and place. "Okay… I love you Arther," she said cheerily. Arther grunted, and turned off the call. He instantly felt a pang of regret for not saying "I love you" back. She would know something's wrong.

He saw her car pull up, and he straightened in his seat. He downed the rest of the coffee, and started to cough. She opened the door and sat down as he cleared his throat. She immediately jumped on the subject, "What's wrong?" Arther started the car and took hold of the wheel. "I'm enlisting." He'd had enough of lying to her, lying about where he was, whom he was with and what he was doing. He wanted her to know the truth. She deserved to know the truth. She nodded, as if what he said was as normal as hello. "What a surprise, as soon as it gets serious…" Arther cut her off. "No, it's not like that." He pulled into a parking space. He slowly turned to her, and looked into her eyes. How he loved those eyes, how many times he's become lost in them, he couldn't tell.

"I love you, you know I do."
She nodded.
"But you KNOW me, I just can't go on without serving a purpose."
Her lower lip started to quiver.
"Enlisting gives me that purpose."
"So I'M not a purpose?"
Arther sighed.
"Don't sigh," she yelled, "Am I a PURPOSE?"
Arther placed his hand on her shoulder. "You're the ONLY purpose right now," he said, "but the way this is going, this war, I feel the need to leave."
She had stopped crying, her face now contorted with emotions. She suddenly calmed, as if the gravity of the situation finally sunk in. She turned and smiled. "I understand Arther, and I know what kind of person you are." He leaned in and kissed her. She kissed back. He kicked the car into gear and drove back down the street.
She kissed him again and got out, went back to her car, and beeped as she drove past him. He'd call when he was leaving.