A Review With Catherine Halsey
Posted By: Harbringer352<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 29 April 2010, 11:03 pm
The woman who introduced herself as Catherine Halsey met me at the elevator. She seemed entirely unexceptional unless you took into account the hostility and frigidness of her eyes. Her face was angular and pale, scowling slightly, remarkable in no way that I could perceive. Perhaps beautiful to some, though the only beauty I could explain was something akin to the first frost of winter. Pale and ethereal and deadly.
"Mr. Cristoph, please ask your questions and leave. I have much work to do."
Well, pale, ethereal, and crisp. I could detect some sort of warmth in those eyes, somehow nearing the properties of sunlight thrown accidentally through the clouds. Hardly a warmth to get used to.
I followed her into her tiny office, the walls of which were festooned with multiple framed images of soldiers (presumably 'her' Spartans). Each of the Spartans sported a chest overflowing with citations. I admired the man in the center of the memorial, a man who was easily recognized by his exceptional CSV: Spartan-117. Doctor Halsey noticed me observing her pictures. I turned in time to see a rare smile break across her features. Well, maybe it was a smirk.
"ONI's getting more and more paranoid every day," she noted. "I find it rare for someone to make it this far into the bowels of Reach." She adjusted the glasses on the bridge of her nose, cold eyes boring holes into my face.
"I just came to ask a few questions," I said innocently.
She hmphed and crossed the room to her desk, where she proceeded to toss used styrofoam coffee cups in the corner, in which a noticeable pile was already growing. She sat behind her desk but still managed to retain perfect posture.
"I admire your resolve," she said. "But hurry up; I have better things to do."
I know. That's why I'm here.
"Many people wonder about the history of the Spartan soldiers," I began, taking a seat across from her. I reached into my pocket and activated the sound recorder, eager to catch her words. I'd gotten good enough where I could use the small device without revealing it to prying eyes.
Her eyes didn't even move or lose their intensity. Not a single muscle twitched as she stared me down. "I expected as much," she said. "Our Spartan soldiers were gleaned from the best that UNSC had to offer."
I waited for her to continue. When she didn't, I continued anyway. "Will ONI ever reveal the true identities to the public?"
"Unlikely," she stated bluntly. This was getting a little frustrating.
I heard of the AI created using a copy of your brain. Is this true?" I watched her closely for clues. She blinked once.
I hid a scowl by coughing into my hand. "Well then. What can you tell me about the Spartan-II program?" A simple enough question.
She took her classes off and for the briefest of moments I saw decades' worth of pain and humility and weariness. Catherine cast a quick glance at the pictures on the wall. Then she replaced her glasses and the mask of statue-like coldness was fixed.
"Son, I can only tell you what you've read. Nothing more. So, if you don't mind-"
Just then a blue ghost of an image appeared, cross-legged, on her desk. A slender female hologram sat facing me, and it was only when her face was fully realized it became clear she was scowling; a visage still beautiful even when disgruntled. I looked at Doctor Halsey, an exchange of glances, and understood this was the AI spoken of. The facial features were precise and if I had known no better I would have said she was a younger Halsey.
"This is Cortana," Catherine explained. The AI in question turned and looked questioningly at Halsey before turning back to me. Some invisible understanding had been exchanged and I was only an onlooker.
She stood up in a sudden sweep of blue pixels, rising up to a full height of twelve inches. She was slender and a cool blue, wearing no clothing of my recognition but censored modestly with streams of mathematical codes beyond my comprehension. Her 'hair' was cut close to her head and moved with ghostly strands as she twisted her head to look at me.
"You must be Christoph Ashe. Born on Monastir in 2507-" I halted her mid-syllable.
"Really, that's not necessary," I said hurriedly.
"It might be," said Halsey, eyebrow arched in a perfect mirror of Cortana's own face. I smiled instinctively.
"You are Cortana, created from Doctor Catherine Halsey's brain?" I asked. The AI shot a intruding look at my pocket as if she could see straight through it to the recorder.
"Yes," she answered. "What do you want?"
I was taken aback by her bluntness. "I'm here on account of-"
"That's all well and good, but what do you want?"
"I want to know about the Spartans. And their origins." I recognized my exasperated tone and bit my lip. Cortana smiled devilishly. I had the sickening feeling I was about to be the butt of some joke that would be very cruelly played. The AI turned to looked at Halsey, who let a ghost of a smile dart across her lips.
"You want to know what the Spartan's origins are?" Cortana asked. I couldn't miss the teasing tone in her voice.
"Yes," I replied, the sinking feeling still present as I walked into the trap.
"Simple," she said. "The Spartans were specifically chosen children who matched the requirements. There bodies were modified over the extent of a couple years using a cocktail of enhancers, steroids, pills, and other lovely things. Their bones are reinforced with metal and ceramics so they are virtually unbreakable. At the age of fourteen they had the bodies of Olympic athletes. They were efficient, deadly, and thorough."
I gulped and blinked several times. I patted my pocket for the recorder, praying to all things holy I'd gotten that.
"I think it's time for you to go," Halsey said, getting up brusquely and grabbing my arm. She led me to the door, seeing as I was incapable of commanding my legs to do anything better than stumble idiotically. I mumbled something about elevators, but Halsey only grinned coolly as she patted my side briefly. I managed to reach the elevator and recovered as I rose the immeasurable distance to the surface.
"You grabbed the recorder?"
"Of course," said Halsey, letting a smile betray her usual features. She bounced the small black device in her palm and tossed it away, to the flash-incinerator in the corner. There was a brief flash of heat and the device was destroyed.
"You don't worry about him telling any one else?" Cortana asked, astonished.
"No," Halsey replied. "He has no proof. And who would want to undermine the force winning the war? Not a fool like Cristoph, certainly."
Cortana smiled. "And now
?" she asked.
"Project MJOLNIR is now in effect," she felt the frown plague her lips. "Time to go meet your host."
Cortana disappeared in a eager flash of pixels.