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ODSS Chapter 5
Posted By: Firerwolf<triss2008@yahoo.com>
Date: 8 August 2011, 4:59 pm

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Something felt wrong to Kathleen. Everything seemed fuzzy, unclear, as she looked around, scanning her surroundings. She vaguely recognized the area as the training forest on Reach she had worked in back with the Spartans. The familiar scent of fresh rain filled her nostrils as things slowly came into focus.

A heavy arm, heavier than it should have been, landed on her shoulder, slung around her in a non-threatening manner. She turned to look at the person beside her. The movements were out of sync, though, making her head spin for a moment. The world had passed by quicker than it should have, but her movement had felt sluggish. It almost felt as though she were trying to move through water. Her heart stopped for a moment and she felt like she couldn't breathe as she stared at the person beside her.

The face could be none other than that of a concerned Will, one of her fellow Spartan IIs. "What's wrong, Kat? You look sick," he asked, though the sound was all wrong, like he was miles away, though she could see him standing right beside her. She could hardly even understand the words that he said.

Anger shot up as she pushed him away, nearly falling over. Her movements were all mixed up. The young man's weight was too much and her movements felt sluggish while everything moved so fast. She had lost all her strength and she moved as though she had weights on all her limbs.

"I told you not to call me that. My name's Kathleen," she snapped, and the words came out muffled as well. She remembered it all clearly now. She remembered the way the others, like Will, had teased her about her full name. Her head started to hurt. She couldn't think straight long enough to concentrate on one thing. A part of her mind tried to focus on what was wrong with her body while the other part of her mind wanted to be swallowed by the memories of her fallen comrades. She hadn't thought about Will in so long, but it all came flooding back leaving her drowning in the memories. Her mind seemed to be as unable to focus as her body was to respond to her actions.

"I don't see why you won't let us shorten it. Kat is so much quicker," Fred argued, moving up on her other side. Kathleen hadn't even heard him move, something that unsettled her more than anything else. She hated when others got the better of her.

"Oh, leave her alone. She's allowed to be called whatever she wants to be called," Sheila said, coming up behind Kathleen. The other female Spartan smiled warmly at Kathleen as though it could smooth it all over.

"You're just saying that because your name can't be shortened," Joshua countered, walking up beside her. Kathleen flinched a moment causing the world to once more spin as it became uneven for a moment.

"Really, what's so special about your full name?" Will asked, as he removed his arm from her shoulder.

Kathleen frowned, trying to clear her mind enough to remember. For some reason she couldn't remember why her name mattered so much to her. She was reluctant to admit she didn't know the reason why it was important.

"I don't have to tell you why. I don't go around calling you Frederic and William, so don't call me Kat," she huffed, crossing her arms over her chest. They'd had this argument plenty of times and it always went the same way. She almost missed the slight flinch of the boys when she said their full names. She knew nether of them liked their full names, which was why she only ever used them when she was mad.

"Get moving, Spartans," a voice shouted, drawing the attention of the five soldiers. Kathleen recognized the other Spartan right away but it took her a moment to remember the name. She had never been close to him but he was their squad leader, John or something. The other Spartans materialized like ghosts around him, staring at them. Kathleen felt like they were all staring at her. All ghosts of her past and the failed mission that left her alone.

"Yes, squad leader!" Fred shouted, back turning to Kathleen. "Come on Kat, don't want to be left behind," he said before taking off at a run toward the others. Will, Sheila, and Joshua followed, all moving like blurs as they and the others disappeared into the forest.

"Wait up," Kathleen shouted, taking a step forward to chase them down. She felt awkward, like her body moved out of line with her mind. Her foot didn't move when her mind told it to. The limb was heavy like it was encased in cement. She fell to the ground confused and alone. "Don't leave me," she muttered, letting her eyes close and her head fell to the ground hopelessly.

She never felt her head hit the grass. Her eyes opened and she found herself staring up at the ceiling of the ODSS barracks. The world was bright and vivid around her, even in the dark, while the quiet breaths of her team were crisp and clear in her ears. It had all just been a dream, though good or bad she wasn't sure. She felt a sorrow, the same she'd felt when the other Spartans disappeared, leaving her alone. She hadn't thought about the Spartans since she'd been given her own team and that seemed like an eternity ago.

Somehow seeing Will, Sheila, Fred, and Joshua again had reminded her how alone she was. Even in her own team she wasn't exactly one of them. Yes, they trusted and followed her but in the end she wasn't particularly close with any of them. Even John had been close to Kelly and Sam. She had to admit that she would always be a Spartan among ODST. She would have to live with their loyalty alone. In the end it would only hurt her more if she made friends with any of them. If one of them died on the battle field the pain of the loss of a friend may endanger their mission. At least that was the logic she was using in her head. She may not be an ODST but these soldiers were her ODST and she was going to lead them to hell and be sure they all made it back.

She sat up looking around at her soldiers. Everyone was an elite warrior trained to be more fearless and strong than any other. She was proud of what they'd become. Despite their physical limitations she was sure they could give any Spartan a run for their money. She noticed movement to her right and turned to look at the figure.

"Still feel like something's missing?" Tym asked, sitting up. After their first assignment they'd been sent out on mission after mission that seemed to under-utilize them. Every time they had been sent out, Kathleen felt like they weren't being told everything. She nodded to the question. "Any ideas what it might be?"

Kathleen shook her head. She wasn't even sure how likely it was that anything was being kept from them. The only evidence she had was a feeling, and that wasn't good enough reason to try to confront Sergeant Saran about it.

"You going to talk to Saran about it?"

Kathleen almost scolded the private for calling the Gunnery Sergeant by his name but she stopped. He had always been the kind of soldier that they didn't feel comfortable calling by his full but with her recent promotion to Sergeant they were reluctant to call him Sarge. He had trained them. He'd been the father figure that taught them everything that they knew. Calling him by his name seemed somehow disrespectful while calling him by his full rank seemed seemed to be too distant.

She shook her head again and Tym sighed. "I see you're in a talkative mood," he joked, trying to lighten things.

"Obviously not as talkative of a mood as you, shrimp," Kathleen shot back, knowing that he hated short jokes. Out of all her solders he was the shortest and they all teased him about it. "Go back to sleep," she instructed. He merely shrugged and lay back down.

"Maybe one day you'll be talkative enough to tell us when something's wrong without being asked," he muttered, as he pulled his blanked up and settled in.

There was a snort on Kathleen's left side and she turned to look at Tobias. From his breathing it was obvious to her he had been faking sleep. "It'll be a cold day in hell when that happens."

"Both of you go to sleep," Kathleen ordered, starting to get a bit annoyed by the jokes. She was serious, but mocking your CO was supposed to be something you didn't do. She scowled in the darkness. Oddly, she wasn't as bothered by it as she felt she should have been.

"Yes, Sarge," they said in unison.

Kathleen waited until she was sure they were asleep before she lay back down. She stared at the ceiling unable to stop her mind from racing.

For some reason she was sure the other Spartans had something to do with her suspicions. She'd always wondered why there had been no funerals for them, even though they gave their lives in the line of duty. She never got her chance to say goodbye to the family she'd spent eight of the hardest years of her life with. They had been her brothers and sisters, gone through all the training, all the hard times, even taken the big jump with her, though they hadn't survived.

Now the ODSS were her family, her brothers in arms. She couldn't stop herself from doubting how truthful the UNSC was being about it and couldn't stop the bit of anger the doubts created. She trusted the UNSC, they made her what she was, and she was doubting them. She hated herself for it, but in the back of her mind she knew it was possible that they would lie. She hated liars, though the reason for her hatred was another thing she couldn't remember, like why her full name mattered so much.

She slowly drifted off, her mind too tired to continue to think. She was again plagued by memories of the Spartans. Memories of Fred and Will teasing her, of Sheila and her mocking the boys when they couldn't keep up, of her and Joshua on the shooting range, and memories of days spent in the woods, and she enjoyed every moment of it.