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The Marine, the Rebel and the Sangheili: Arrival
Posted By: QuantumSheep<quantumsheep@optusnet.com.au>
Date: 5 December 2008, 2:08 am

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Quick Note:It's a good idea to have read the previous chapter (entitled "Leon") before reading this one. This one is more or less the second half to that chapter.

"I think the General's an idiot," Corporal Walther said as soon as he and the Lieutenant were out of the tent, "what's he thinking, bringing in an unstable super soldier and that prick Kilgore?"

Lyssa did understand what the Corporal was trying to get across; she just found that she wasn't really that bothered about it. The Corporal didn't look too pleased with the ideas he had just mentioned, an annoyed expression on his face, flipping the gun in his hand and sliding it into his waist holster.

Wherever the Corporal had learnt all those fancy gun tricks was beyond Lyssa, although it wasn't the first time she had seen him do it.
Sometimes he would just sit and play with that pistol of his, which wasn't standard military issue but something he had bought from a colony world before he and Lyssa had arrived here on KV9-X7. It was a lightweight weapon, chrome silver with a wooden stock, something that she would expect to have been obsolete by now. It obviously wasn't if the Corporal had even been able to find one to buy.

"I don't like the idea of this super soldier being here," he continued, squinting in the bright sunlight, his eyes taking a moment to change to the lighting conditions which were far different than those inside the tent, "the General did say the one we were getting was a bit…"

"Fucked in the head?" Lyssa suggested.

"Yeah, that's it," the Corporal said, looking towards her with a grin. They were standing outside the General's tent, in no hurry to head over to the landing strip and greet the newcomers which were supposed to be arriving soon. Lyssa certainly didn't feel like greeting anyone, especially the Shortsword pilots.

It was just after midday, so the sun was at its highest in the sky and the weather was at its hottest. The cooling systems in Lyssa's armour did little to help her from feeling hot at this time, so she took a step under the shaded area outside the General's tent, a temporary shade-cloth having been hung over the doorway.

"I mean, sure, we're hard-pressed to fight these rebels," the Corporal went on, taking a glance at their surroundings, "but if we were going to get some type of super soldier, maybe we should be getting one that isn't crazy."

"The only reason we're getting this one is because he is crazy," Lyssa said, "you heard the conversation I had with the General. The UN is sticking us with him rather than kill him or lock him up. If they did lock him up or kill him, I'm guessing that would be a big morale loss for all the others."

Walther looked up, raising an eyebrow.

"How many of them are there?"

"No idea." Lyssa shook her head; she only knew what the General had told her concerning these 'Spartans'. According to his briefing the other night, many of the Spartans weren't even twenty but had been accelerated through their adolescence thanks to the many sorts of chemicals and surgical procedures they had been through.

"I doubt there's many," she said.

"I hope so," the Corporal replied, "the last thing we need is for these guys to replace us marines. I would really hate that, you know?"

Lyssa nodded. She did know what point the Corporal was trying to make, how if these 'Spartans' were considered good assets there would be a very good chance that, in time, they would make marines obsolete. She doubted it would happen in her lifetime, but in the long run the situation of obsolete marines was inevitable.

"Some of them aren't even twenty," she said, "which is pretty screwed up, if you ask me." The Corporal shook his head, putting his hand to his forehead as he thought this all over.

"How old's the one we're getting?"

"Probably eighteen or something near that," Lyssa replied, "I doubt he would look eighteen, though. He's probably got the body of a fully grown man. Same sort of thing would apply with all the others."

The Corporal looked back up, frowning and mulling over the ideas inside his head, as if it was hard to believe. It probably was hard to believe, but Lyssa didn't let that kind of thing bother her, it would end up clouding her judgement so if they did get into some sort of fight, she doubted she would do as well as she usually would.

"This whole idea of super soldiers is bullshit," the Corporal said bluntly, "what would the parents of those soldiers think?"

"I doubt they even know their parents," Lyssa answered, "for all we know, they were probably grown in a test tube or something…"

"They probably were," Walther replied, giving a weak grin, trying to make a joke about it. Lyssa shrugged, if the Corporal wanted to know so much about them he should ask someone who actually had all the answers, such as the General.

The General, to her, had always seemed lie a bit of a dag, spending most of his time in his tent or spending time with the few other officers around the camp, smoking cigars and eating chocolate, or ice cream, the General had a whole freezer full of the stuff hidden in his tent behind all the junk he had inside there. He did know what he was doing when he was commanding troops and devising strategies to use against the enemy, but the man himself didn't know what he was doing otherwise.
No wonder the Spartan idea appealed to him so much, he wasn't bothering to think about the long term implications that came with it. After all, how much help could two super soldiers be? You would need a whole army of them to be certain you would be able to get rid of the rebels.

"Maybe the General's planning a 'Watts style' operation," the Corporal suggested, "you know, how he told us the Spartans had captured the rebel leader last year?"

"What about it?"

"Well, maybe he's going to use these two Spartans to pull the same kind of thing, this time on Hanley. After all, Hanley is a lot like Watts: he's the leader of a large rebel operation and has plenty of information concerning their operations. Capture him and you get all that information, as well as send his entire force into disarray. Easy picking's for us marines."

Lyssa thought this over. It certainly seemed probable, which could explain why they were merely getting two Spartans, although there could be plenty f other reasons why. The simplest to her seemed to be one for morale purposes: bring in the best fighters you can find and soon enough everybody will be feeling a whole lot better about this conflict.

"I doubt Hanley wouldn't have somebody willing to replace him if the need ever came along," Lyssa said, "he's probably got a dozen people waiting in line to get into his position, each one almost as good at leading the group as Hanley himself."

The Corporal shrugged, accepting her idea but deciding to argue about it some more.

"Watts didn't have any replacements," he said, "in fact, as soon as he was out of the picture that rebel organization went quiet. Nobody's heard anything from them since."

Lyssa didn't see the point in having this conversation, preferring that they move onto matters that were more interesting to her, although the Corporal was being stubborn, as usual.

"Maybe Hanley's smarter than Watts," she said, "so far, he's doing a better job than any other rebel organization this century. He's bound to have replacements and he's bound to be heavily guarded, so maybe these two Spartans will have some trouble getting into his tent and capturing him."

The Corporal had stopped listening by the time she had finished her last sentence, instead looking up at the clear blue sky, his eyes following the shape of an Albatross drop-ship as it began its descent towards the landing strip which lay on the other side of the base. Lyssa followed its shape as well, the large drop-ship disappearing behind a row of tents.

The pair started on their way past the tents, passing all kinds of military personnel, some of which Lyssa knew and others she hardly saw. Most were busy on whatever it was they were doing to notice the Albatross touch down on the side of the landing strip, hovering about a metre off of the ground as its occupants stepped out onto the landing strip.

The landing strip itself had been a last minute addition to the base, after the General had realized they might actually get aircraft someday during their time on the planet. It wasn't cement or tarmac; it was merely a flatted strip of land, sandy but otherwise kept well maintained to ensure it was suitable for an aircraft to land on.

Lyssa and Corporal Walther stopped about ten metres from the drop-ship, watching as an engineer climbed out of the open rear ramp, removing a few packs of luggage and climbing back on board. He was soon followed by the two passengers that Lyssa and the Corporal had been expecting.

They were surprised when they saw a pair of almost seven feet tall figures step out of the rear of the Albatross, both clad in bulky green armour, their helmet's visor going a dark golden-yellow colour to compensate for the sun's glare.

"Shit, would you look at them?" The Corporal said as he and the Lieutenant watched as the pair of armour clad soldiers picked up their packs of luggage and started towards them.

They certainly looked imposing and Lyssa found herself suddenly nervous, as if she had been thrown on a stage in front of a huge crowd and told to improvise. However, the crowd in this case was a pair of armour-clad soldiers walking up straight and tall, years of military training having made them more like machines than the humans they actually were.

The armour itself certainly gave the impression of a machine. For all she knew, they could very well be part machine, like some sort of cyborg or something. She found herself having no clue on what to say to them, shifting uneasily where she stood, suddenly feeling quite hot.

"You do the talking," the Corporal muttered to her as the pair of Spartans stopped in front of her. One of them was hanging back a bit, taking a look around at the base and the military personnel who had started watching the two armour-clad soldiers. He was obviously the male, the so-called "unstable" one, lacking the formality that the other was showing the Lieutenant.

The other Spartan stood rigid and snapped a salute.

"Lieutenant!" A female voice exclaimed, "Spartan 092, reporting for

"Great, they don't even have proper names," the Corporal muttered, although Lyssa wasn't quite listening. She was put off guard for a moment by what the Spartan had said; addressing her in a way the Lieutenant hadn't received from anyone else ever since she ended up on this planet. She composed herself, pleased at how she was in some sort of position of power.

"At ease," she said, allowing the female Spartan to drop her salute and relax. She glanced at the other Spartan, who wasn't paying attention to the conversation and was fiddling with the latch on his luggage pack. They didn't seem to be carrying much with them, although that didn't matter right now. They probably only had a few changes of clothes inside their cases, little else.

"Do you have a name, soldier?" Lyssa asked, noticing the Corporal snicker from the corner of her eye. Whatever he found funny right now, she though the opposite.

The Spartan nodded.

"Kyla, ma'am," she replied. She reached up to her helmet and pulled it off of her head, a slight hissing sound coming from inside as the interior of the armour adjusted to the new atmospheric conditions.

Kyla certainly looked young, her blonde hair cut short so it wasn't infringing UNSC Marine Corps regulations, her blue eyes resting on Lyssa. The Lieutenant thought how much of a rule-breaker she looked with her hair grown long and tied back.

"I'm 2nd Lieutenant Lyssa Raine," Lyssa said, introducing herself. She nodded towards the Corporal, who managed to look up at the Spartan and attempt to give a welcoming expression. It looked fake.

"That's Corporal Harry Walther," Lyssa said, turning back to the Spartan, "I and the Corporal were told to be your welcoming party." She paused, glancing towards the other Spartan, the one hanging back a few metres who was yet to say a word.

"I'm guessing that's Spartan 073?"

Kyla nodded, turning around to look at her squad-mate. She gestured to him, getting him to step alongside her. He looked down at the Lieutenant, his face impossible to see through the helmet's visor making Lyssa unable to determine what he might be thinking.

"Spartan 073, I'm 2nd Lieutenant—"

"I heard you before," the Spartan said abruptly, cutting off Lyssa mid sentence. She felt a little uneasy in his presence, although he didn't seem to be too bothered be her. 073 looked up, turning his attention to the Corporal who gave him a weak smile.

"I don't like him," the Spartan said simply, before returning his gaze to the Lieutenant, "and by the way, if you're going to call me anything, call me Leon."

Lyssa nodded in response, she and Kyla exchanging glances.

"And you might want to work on the defences of this base," Leon continued. He pointed to the fence running along the other side of the landing strip, beyond it being desert hills and rocky terrain. "Anybody could launch a minor attack there and be in here without much trouble. Hell, maybe you should work on this whole base. From what I saw flying in, it needs one heck of a makeover…"

"Leon, I don't think she's the one in charge of that," Kyla said, distracting Leon for a moment, "maybe you should save your complaints for the man in charge…"

A voice from behind the Lieutenant and the Corporal broke off her sentence. The group turned around to see General Richard McDougall standing behind, a smile on his face as he laid his eyes on the two Spartans.

"I'm the man in charge," he said. Kyla, seeing him, snapped another salute, standing to attention.


"At ease, Spartan," the General said casually, taking note of how Leon didn't show him any sort of interest. He didn't seem worried about it too much, opening his arms wide as if to welcome long lost friends.

"Finally, the two people I've been waiting for!" He exclaimed, "you'll find yourselves right at home in the tents we set up for you. As a matter of fact, the timing of your arrival couldn't be better."

"Why, sir?" Kyla asked.

"Because we're launching an attack tomorrow morning on an important rebel supply compound," the General said, "what better chance for the two of you to show us what you got?"

Kyla didn't seem fazed by the idea. She managed to form a smile and saluted again.

"Sounds good, sir," she said, turning to Leon, "what do you say, Leon?"

The Spartan looked at her and then the General, his expression impossible to determine through the helmet.

"Sounds like fun," Leon said, "although, if you don't mind me asking sir, how long has it been since you last engaged the OCPLF forces here in proper combat?"

The General frowned, a hand going to his chin as he tried to remember. It was another half a minute before he could come up with an answer, racking his brain to find the facts.

"Hmm…I would say, maybe four months? Three at the very least?" He said.

"It sounds to me you and your troops aren't doing your job," Leon said, his voice deep and serious. The General shrugged, not at all affected by this comment, although some noticeable annoyance had appeared on Lyssa's face. The Corporal just shook his head, swearing quietly under his breath.

"This guy arrives and starts telling us how to do our job," the Corporal muttered, "how did I know this would happen?"

Lyssa didn't like Leon's attitude, although the man was meant to be emotionally unsound so she let it slide for now. She would simply have to put up with the man's crap, she knew there was no use complaining to the General later on, he would simply tell her to live with it.

The General kept his smile as he gestured to the Spartans to follow him, beginning to tell them about the OCPLF and how long the marines had been fighting them. He was obviously taking them to their tents, allowing Lyssa and Walther to sit themselves down on a few empty crates left nearby. Walther looked annoyed, his face scrunched up into a scowl as he dwelled over what had just happened.

"The girl ain't bad, but that Leon guy, he just pisses me off," Walther said, "I had a feeling it would be like this. They obviously seem to know they're better than us, at least, he does."

Lyssa shook her head.

"Leon hardly said anything," she said, "you're just too touchy."
Walther looked at her, raising an eyebrow.

"I'm too touchy?" He asked with some surprise, "Look who's talking. You're the one who's too touchy, refusing to tell us more about yourself earlier…"

Lyssa shot him a furious glance.

"That's because I don't want to talk about it, okay? Is that so bad?" She was angry now, her sudden anger taking the Corporal off-guard. He held up his hands jokingly, acting like he was afraid he would hit her but laughing.

"Easy there, miss!" He exclaimed, laughing a little, "I didn't mean to piss you off." He rested his hands back into his lap, taking a thorough look at her from where he sat. There was something he wanted to say, Lyssa could tell, but he obviously couldn't bring himself to say it.

"I might be a little easier on you if you weren't always staring at my chest," she said. The Corporal looked up at her, noticeably embarrassed.

"I wasn't…"

"Yes, you were," Lyssa replied bluntly, unable to help but smile. She had him now, she thought. "If you like me that much, why don't you just say it?"

"Say what?"

"That you like me?" Lyssa said, shaking her head at his stupidity, "don't think I can't tell, Harry. I've seen that look in your eyes, ever since you were assigned to my squad the first day we were here."

"What if I didn't say it?" Walther asked, an uneasy grimace appearing on his face, "maybe I don't like you in that way, you know…"

"If you didn't be honest, I'd think you were a chicken shit," Lyssa said, enjoying the noticeable twang of annoyance that appeared on the Corporal's expression, "and then I would tell everybody else here you were a chicken shit and then everybody would be calling you a chicken shit…"

The Corporal stood up, having had enough of their conversation, gazing down at where Lyssa sat.

"Why don't you just sit here and wait for those pilots and that prick Kilgore to arrive while I go and get us a drink," the Corporal said, trying to change the subject, "I'll be back and hopefully by then you would have forgotten about this whole 'me liking you in that way business'."

"Yeah, right," Lyssa said sarcastically, watching as the annoyed Corporal turned his back and walked away, disappearing around a corner and behind a row of tents.

She had always known had had a thing for her, she could tell, the way he looked at her, the way he attempted to get a get a good look at her backside without her noticing (she usually did notice, however). The thing that struck her about him was the way he wasn't making it entirely obvious, unlike most of the other men at the base who tended to whistle as she walked past or throw her some sort of one-liner that would lead to her punching said man in the face. The Corporal was different, and funnily enough, she liked that about him.

Sitting back against the side of the tent behind her, she gazed out at the landing strip and desert beyond the perimeter fence. She wondered how long it would be before the Shortsword pilots arrived in their fighters, knowing that there wasn't anything stopping her from going back to her tent and wasting time rather than greeting a bunch of cocky flyboys. She didn't want to annoy the General though, so she decided to stay, taking out her water canteen and downing the remaining contents, attempting to lean back in the shade to protect herself from the harsh glare of the sun.

The pistol was bulky, not as easy to fit into a common waist holster unlike a basic military sidearm, such as an M6A pistol. He weighed it in his right hand, noticing that despite its bulkiness, the weapon was perfectly balanced. Removing the magazine from its grip, he noticed a slight unbalance but that was understandable, the weapon being unloaded.

Peering at the bullet resting on the top of the magazine, he noticed the hollow tip and silver ring across the back end, indicating that it used an advanced sort of miniature explosive. The bullet would impact the target, unable to shred apart like a rifle round and eviscerate the flesh of who was hit by it. Rather, this bullet would get lodged in the victim and detonate less than a second later, causing tremendous damage, enough to take a person's head clean off.

The sheer thought of this gave the holder of the weapon a grin, able to imagine what would happen if he shot a rebel with this at point blank range. It would leave a nasty mess but that was beside the point. With such power in his hands he would have no trouble in any skirmishes with the OCPLF forces…hopefully. There would always be unforeseen circumstances, as in any mission.

Sliding the magazine back into the dark grey metal weapon, he brought the slider back, letting it click back into place. Satisfied, he took a moment to admire the three-barrelled design, capable of emptying its magazine in seconds unless the weapon was set on semi-automatic. Semi-automatic was the sensible setting to leave the weapon on, allowing him to fire it as quickly as he pulled the trigger. The three-barrelled design rotated as the weapon fired, which would explain why it emptied its magazines so quickly.

To top things off, there was another, slightly longer but wider barrel underneath the main one, connected to a separate, revolver-style holding mechanism which lay just in front of a second, smaller trigger. This barrel fired shotgun shells which were loaded into three available slots in the rotating chamber. The presence of this addition allowed the user to blast anyone at close range with a shotgun shell if the need ever came along.

The weapon had been manufactured in the many manufacturing facilities located on Mars and was a rare enough weapon which was in very limited production. It was called the Costanza Model 23, Costanza being the name of the manufacturing company, a recent addition to the Mars manufacturing industry, the company itself only having been formed in 2501. For short, the weapon was known as the "CM23", but regardless of what name it had, the weapon took pride of place in Spartan 073's arsenal. He didn't have much of an arsenal, always having to make-do with what his mission organizers gave him, the CM23 being a bit of a personal addition to what he used. To get a hold of a CM23, Leon had had to purchase it off a private vendor on Reach, having done this a few months before. It had been quite expensive but he did have credits stowed away in places, receiving his military pay, just like any other soldier.

Spartan 073, otherwise known as Leon, was only eighteen, older than most others of his kind but still in the reasonable age group for the Spartans. Apparently he had only just pulled through the augmentations he had received but had soon recovered, more because he was determined to make it through than any other more logical medical reason.

Putting the pistol in the holster at the waist of his armour, Leon moved on to removing the changes of clothes he had brought with him to KV9-X7 from his luggage pack, neatly folding them into the footlocker at the end of the bed that had been supplied.

One thing that had struck him was the seemingly casualness of the marines stationed here, as well as the tech and engineering personnel. Many of them, he had seen on his way to the tent, had been lounging around inside or outside, talking, playing cards and any other sort of leisure activity, including a baseball game he had passed by taking place in an empty corner of the base, close to the perimeter fence. No wonder he and Kyla had been sent here, maybe their presence could motivate these slackers to do their job.

Leon took off his helmet where he stood, able to hear the General, Richard McDougall, talking with Kyla in the doorway of the tent about what skirmishes against the rebel forces had happened during his time spent on the planet. From what he could hear, Leon determined that the rebels were winning most of the engagements but, over time, slowly decreased the number of engagements they started against the marines. It seemed to him that the rebels were holding back from the marines, probably on orders from their leader, as if they were planning something or they were simply sparing their forces…

"So, what I said to him, you know what I said?" The General had been droning on for a while now, having spent the walk to the tent talking with Kyla mainly, although he did try and start a few conversations with Leon, all the attempts being unsuccessful.

"I said, 'You fuck with me again and my troops will be picking you out of the sand'…" The General chuckled loudly, Kyla laughing nervously in response.

In his peripheral vision, he could see Kyla was trying to get a break from the General's talking, nodding politely and replying if need be. She glanced at her squad-mate with an expression that told Leon she needed some help in getting out of the General's conversational grasp. Leon gave a slight grin and thought he would leave her with the General for a few more minutes.

One thing that caught his eye then was the small pocket mirror sitting on the end of the bed, left there by whoever had last slept here. He picked it up, taking a look on the back and finding the name "WALTHER" scrawled on the plastic casing in permanent marker.
Walther was the name of that sissy looking Corporal, he remembered, obviously the last person to have used the bed. Leon smiled to himself, the Corporal seemed to be a very self-conscious person if he had his own mirror, but he was very careless if he left his belongings lying around like this.

Leon took a moment to admire his own reflection, surprised at how pale he looked. A typical side effect of being in this armour for too long, but being on this shithole of a planet ought to fix it up, thanks to the harsh sun.

His hair was cut short, but not too short considering he hated looking like a skinhead. He did have a crew cut which was high enough so that his scalp wasn't visible, his dark brown hair finishing abruptly at his forehead. His green eyes certainly looked weary, which was understandable since he had been having trouble get to sleep in the past week or two.

"Hey, Leon!"

The Spartan felt a hand grip his shoulder. Turning around, he had to look down at the shorter General, who was smiling at him, a white box held in his other hand. He shook it invitingly.

"Would you like a chocolate?"

"No thanks…"

The General took the box back, tucking it under his arm as he thought of something to say next.

"Do you mind if I call you Leo?" The General asked, although he gave a look that told Leon he wouldn't be taking the Spartan's answer into account. The Spartan answered anyway.


"Whatever, Leo," the General said, pausing a moment and nodding back over at Kyla, who was unpacking her changes of clothes, "you see, I was just talking with your lady squad-mate, and well, I was wondering…Maybe you could tell me a little about you Spartans. Sure, I know a lot already, but that's just stuff from the files I've been sent. I would prefer to hear it from one of these 'Spartans' themselves, because that would be a more reliable source of information…"

"If you want to learn more, ask Kyla, not me," Leon said, about to turn around and disregard the General's presence entirely but the middle-aged man's grip stopped him.

"I'm just trying to have a conversation, that's all," the General said, still keeping his smile but he quickly lost it as he started thinking of something else to say, "maybe you could tell me about the…uh, well…the incident that occurred last month. I know about it, but I think hearing you're opinion on the matter will prove to be a far more reliable source…"

"The doctor," Leon said simply.

"Which doctor?"

The Spartan rolled his eyes, turning around fully so he could look straight down at the General.

"The doctor at the psyche-exam was annoying me," Leon said bluntly, no emotion creeping into his voice.

"Really?" The General paused, giving a look of uncertainty. "Am I annoying you?"

"Yes," Leon replied.

The General took a step back and turned to Kyla, who had set up a dressing screen alongside her bed so from where Leon stood, he couldn't watch her get dressed (or undressed). She wasn't doing that now but she would have to soon enough, not that Leon cared too much.

"Well, unfortunately I have work to do so I'll be leaving now," the General said, sounding a little flustered, "I wouldn't worry too much, we'll be seeing each other around plenty of times during our stay on this planet. So, uh…see you two later." He glanced back at Leon, managing a quick wave before he stepped through the flap acting as the tent's door and disappeared from sight.

Once he had gone, Kyla came back out from behind the dressing screen, shaking her head.

"What a General they have here," she said, stepping towards Leon, sounding amused, "no wonder these marines are slacking off. Their leader isn't much better…"

"That's why the brass sent us here," Leon said, "not only to get rid of me but to make sure this guy and his soldiers don't all get killed." He paused, looking towards Kyla, who had lost her smile and was looking a bit more serious.

"What you said about the doctor annoying you…"

"It's true," Leon said, remembering what had happened that day. Funnily enough, he had no regrets about it, having sincerely felt that the doctor had been annoying him somehow, although he couldn't really remember why he had shot him, or what had compelled him to bring the gun with him. Thinking about it now, he couldn't even remember taking the gun in with him, only having it in there, in the room…

"Why shoot him?" Kyla sounded worried, she obviously cared about him, and he was a fellow soldier and squad-mate after all. Leon managed a shrug.

"I had the gun, he gave me a reason," Leon said, frowning, "so maybe we should just quit talking about this, alright? We have more important things to go on to…"

Kyla nodded, understanding that maybe Leon didn't want to talk about the very thing that had made High Command plant the "UNSTABLE" stamp on his file.

Leon sat down on the bed, noticing that the mattress was hard and not very bouncy. Comfortable beds were probably the last thing the people running the base had in mind when they set it up, although it was certainly better than sleeping in a hammock, at leats, in Leon's opinion.

"Remember, Leon, we can't let this whole Hanley thing get in the way of our judgement," Kyla said. Leon looked up, a little annoyed but otherwise remaining calm.

"Hanley almost killed you," Leon said, "He almost killed me. He is the very man we've been after ever since Blue Team captured Watts last year. He is the very man who slipped out of our grasp last December, ruining a perfectly good Christmas."

Kyla nodded, but she seemed to be more worried about him than anything else.

"I don't want you to get carried away with revenge, Leon," Kyla said, "part of me wants to track him down and kill him but I'm not doing it. I'll only kill him if we encounter him, such as in a future operation…"

"But you'll still do it, won't you?" Leon asked, "You wouldn't try and capture him, would you? Despite all the information he holds, you and I, against our very orders, would kill him?"

Kyla shrugged.

"It's human nature…"

"It fucking well is," Leon continued, "I wouldn't let the bastard live, not for everything he's done. He organized an attack that left seventy-five thousand people dead, merely to prove that his forces were not to be fucked with easily. And yet the UNSC, rather than launch an all-out operation, sends a bunch of shitty marines to fight a superior force of enemy soldiers. The whole thing is FUBAR, that's what it is."

Kyla didn't have an answer. She most certainly agreed judging by the slight nod she gave and the solemn gaze she kept. The pair of them was silent for a moment.

"I'm not only going to kill the bastard," Leon said suddenly, standing up and removing his combat knife from a compartment in his armour, starting to move the blade around in a slow, cutting motion, "I'm going to cut him up. I'm going to let him bleed while he's simultaneously trying to hold his guts in and his balls on. He ain't going to go the easy quick-and-painless way, not if I get to him first.

"You have to understand, Kyla, I no longer care about getting court marshalled for this shit. I'm just going to find him the first chance I get and I am going to make the fucker suffer like he never has before."
Kyla stood silent as she listened to what her squad-mate had to say. She shook her head, almost in pity.

"I'm really worried about you, Leon," she said, "I really am worried."

"Don't be," Leon said, lowering his blade, "if killing Hanley is going to be as hard as I think it is I'm going to end up getting killed one way or the other. But I will get Hanley, even if it could be the last thing I do."