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Jade Armored Kings
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 4 January 2006, 11:02 pm

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      [WHTR Channel Twelve News- Transcript]

Female Anchor (Stacy Cheu): Hi, I'm Stacy Cheu for Channel Twelve News at Nine.

Male Anchor (Rob Cordroy): And I'm Rob Cordroy. Thanks for joining us tonight, and now for our top story.

Stacy: Earlier today Diamond Rock police officials successfully killed the two rogue Spartans who had been on the run for over six months. The duo were cornered while hiding in a small hotel in River City where a joint taskforce surrounded the two. There are no reports of casualties other than the suspects.

Rob: You may remember these Spartans for their bloody massacre at a local mall a few months ago, in which twelve police officers were brutally gunned down during routine patrols. We talked earlier today with head of security for Barren's United Nations Space Command Protectorate, and this is what he had to say.

[cut to clip of John C. Noonaz]

Noonaz: Well, we're all just really glad to see this thing come to an end. It's really put a dark light on the UNSC military here and all of the good things they've done, as well as the recently declassified Spartan project. I mean we really have so many great guys and gals working for us, especially from said Spartan program, and to see a couple like this just come along and put such a black face to everything we've done; its just despicable.

Reporter: What's next for the Spartan program?

Noonaz: [pause] We're looking into it. As all of you are well aware the Spartan program has been extremely successful for us, and we look forward to continuing on that path in the future. You don't stop developing a bomb because one of the prototypes accidentally explodes, you just make the bomb better, and handle it more carefully in the future.

Reporter: So you believe that allowing them back into society is a good thing? A safe thing to do?

Noonaz: After this incident all of the retired Spartans will be brought in for more rigorous psychiatric examinations, at which point their safety will be evaluated. From there we can assess the potential for other incidents of this nature to occur in the future, and hopefully prevent them. Lets be clear about one thing here people, whatever happened with these two miscreants is not the norm. The UNSCs head of psychology has assured me that the mental distress caused during their years of prolonged fighting during the Human-Covenant war has most likely made them lose grasp of their actions. These are two highly decorated soldiers, who are having a very rough transition to civilian life.

Reporter: Why were the surviving Spartans all relocated to this tiny, some would say backwater, planet if they pose no real security threat?

Noonaz: The Spartans have not been shown to pose a significant civilian threat [noticeable pause, eyes shift uneasily]...next question.

Reporter: How did you locate the Spartans, who have been on the run for six months with almost zero outside communication that we're aware of?

Noonaz: The boys and girls over at ONI were just better. They had their methods, and we had ours. In the end, ours were superior. That's really all the time I can spare, I have to get back to work. Thank you.

Reporter: Thank you sir.

[cut back to Stacy Cheu and Rob Cordroy]

Rob: And now for sports with Jack Kilborne

      "Hey guys, you're dead." Fred smirked as he half-chewed a sandwich carried loosely in his left hand. John and Linda glanced at each other as the monitor blinked to life. It took a few barely noticeable moments for the sound to catch up to the picture. The talking heads of a local news program were detailing how two rogue Spartans had been killed in a firefight by UNSC forces before cutting over to a video clip of this planet's head of security. The situation the two now found themselves in was at once both humorous and chilling. The UNSC was obviously trying to lower the tension planet side, but there had to be ulterior motives for the move. One thing was now certain, there were two Spartans that the government had to have dead; hopes of being taken alive were gone.
      "That's completely wrong," Linda stated plainly. The two males only stared at her in curious disbelief. "Oh come on John, I took at least four of them with me. No casualties my ass. Honestly, who are they kidding? There's no chance we'd be caught off guard."
      Ice ran through One Seventeen's veins as he remembered how easily Fred had snuck up on him two days before. He told himself that Fred had just gotten the better of him, but inside he couldn't forgive himself for the mistake. Spartans were rarely content with aging, but John was taking it much worse. Linda and Fred wore thin, smug smirks of satisfaction at the joke, but John only lowered his eyes to the gray and turquoise table. The news snapped off at a button push and there was silence again. The same, unnerving silence as before permeated his thoughts.
      "Lets get to work." John said sternly. Work was the one thing that had always managed to keep his mind focused, and there was plenty of that to be done. The atmosphere changed immediately, the camaraderie of before was gone. These were not friends planning a party, these were calculating killers planning a highly dangerous mission.
      He spread four electronic markers across the table. A holographic area map of Diamond Rock, Situ, and River City covered the planning grid with perfect clarity. Three red dots appeared in seemingly random locations in each of the towns. A green circle appeared where the Barn was located, and distance markers were placed over each of the markers.
      "Now we know Patterson is still on Barren, the UNSC has had all commercial and personal flights grounded. Security has been extremely tight, so he's likely found a place like this that's out of the way and hard to get to. Cortana was kind enough to locate the semi-classified outposts, warehouses, and buildings he'd be likeliest to hole up in. These three have recently had suspicious internet activity, and are our best bets for finding him.
      "So we'll split up and take one each. Piece of cake." Fred said routinely. After all, there were just two of them, and neither were more well trained than any of the squid-faced bastards or ODST they'd fought during the war or training.
      "No," came John's cold reply, "I want you with Linda."
      "John, I'm fully capable of taking one by myself. I'm fine, really."
      "I want you to go with Fred."
      "John, I'm serious. I'm fine now, I don't need a babysitter."
      "This isn't up for discussion."
      "What the hell's the matter with you lately John? Ever since I was shot you've done nothing but baby me, and I'm goddamn tired of it. I'm a soldier just as much as you or Fred, and you know that. Yes, I was shot; and yes, I almost died twice. But I didn't, and now I'm fine. We've all got our scars John, mine are just physical."
      Fred watched silently from the corner of the now too-small room. He didn't know what to say, or even if he should say anything. John had definitely changed, that much was sure, but he was still his closest friend. They were all friends, brothers, sisters. There was nothing a fellow Spartan could ask for that he wouldn't do, but now he knew he'd have to take a side.
      "That's an order, Captain." John pulled rank, he was deadly serious. The urge to argue coursed through Oh-Five-Eight, but she was in a losing battle. Fred would undoubtedly take John's side, and she wanted to salvage as much of their relationship as possible before either of them crossed a threshold they could never come back from.
      "Yes, Major." She saluted stiffly and turned on her heel before marching to her quarters. John ran his fingers through the sloppy, inch long crop of hair that had sprouted and exhaled deeply. He stared at Fred, who was still silently watching from the corner of the room.
      "I know you mean well John, but you're wrong on this one."
      "Are you taking her side on me?"
      "I'm not taking a side John. I don't get paid enough to make the big decisions. Now I'm going to go with her because you're my boss and that was an order you gave a few minutes ago, but as a friend I'm going to warn you--don't do anything you'll regret. You know as well as I do she's probably better than both of us, and if you want to protect her I can understand that, but you have to know when to give up. I've seen how you two are together, and I know you two share something I'll never have; I don't want y'all to lose the little bit of humanity you found." Fred took two steps to the door, turned the corner, and left the room.
      I'm not going to pretend to know the subtle intricacies of human behavior, but isn't it more practical and effective to split up completely? The broodling asked mentally.
      Et tu, Brute?
      I'm not judging you, only asking.
      I've lost her twice now. I've seen everyone I've ever cared for taken from me. Now that we've become...more, I don't know what I'd do if I lost her for good.
      Understandable, though odd from my perspective. My kind usually think only of the collective, and what is best for the group. Individuality is foreign to me, though I'm trying to change that. I think I'd like a name, and Brutus is a strong name. Would you call me it?
      Whatever you want. Brutus.
      He didn't know how to describe the feeling, but it felt like a smile. Warm and congenial. A sense of triumph he'd long since lost was back. How much was there to this little parasite that he didn't know or understand? Regardless, he rather enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that had so long evaded him.

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      From: Darius@unmil.defweb
      To: Xerxes@freecom.unweb
      Subject: A little story a friend told me...

            This story is about a boy who wanted badly to be king. As a child he heard tales of a magical amber pendant in the shape of a teardrop, one claimed to have magical properties that turned whoever wore it into the rightful ruler of all the lands he set his eyes upon. But the pendant was cursed as well, and changed all who had tried to control it into hideous monsters. The legends he read told of one, a boy, who was born to be the rightful and true king; one who could wield the pendant without succumbing to its hideous transformation. There would be none whose power could stop him, nor armies of the Earth to control him. His every whim would be carried out, and every desire fulfilled. So it was that the great ruler of the lands had this pendant locked up in a great and mighty fortress, guarded constantly from worldly and devious forces by many of his best soldiers. For an oracle had prophesied that he was not worthy to control the pendant, and he would not risk allowing the rightful king to ascend his throne. But this boy was strong of will and not easily deterred. In the middle of a dark and stormy night, when the king's guards would be least active, he traversed the Great King's tower's slick wall with only his bare hands, and captured the magical pendant.
            And so this boy was transformed into a mighty and powerful being who was merciful, and kind to the Great King as he fled from the lands. His power was unchallenged, and he ruled with a mighty and vengeful fist against those who would dare oppose him. This little boy who became king was the most powerful person in the world, or so he thought. For you see, this legend tells of another. Another boy from a faraway land on the outskirts of his power who was orphaned while young and raised by a caring doctor and cunning warrior. The doctor gave him a magical pendant for good health, and the warrior gave him suit of armor forged of jade and impervious to all mortal weapons. When the king heard of this, he sent his great armies to search all the lands in his possession for the only one powerful enough to oppose him, but unfortunately none could find him. As his armies returned home, and the king was foolishly comforted with his power, he became lazy and tired. Before the king went to bed after returning to his palace he checked all the rooms of his mighty and luxurious castle. Every corner, every closet, every basement, and every attic. Once contented he fell into a deep and slumberous sleep.
            But the king had forgotten to check one place, and in the end it was the most important place of all. A place that in his transformation from boy to man he no longer feared. He had forgotten to check under his bed, and so in the night the one who carried this pendant and covered in a suit of jade armor crept from under the sleeping ruler and deposed him, and became king himself.
      Having told you this story I will tell you a secret. I know of an amber pendant in the shape of a teardrop, locked in a fort some would call Gouldon, on the outer edges of a great city called Situ in the desert of a planet Barren of life. There, a great and mighty tower stands, and in it many powerful guards. But be warned, Great King Noonaz will be merciless to any he believes challenge his power in these lands, and to be caught is certain and painful death. But a boy's mind will make itself, and I am a weary old man not foolish enough to change it.
                        Your friend,

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      To: Darius@unmil.defweb
      From: Xerxes@freecom.unweb
      Subject: Interesting story...

            I'll be sure to check under my bed.