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086, Irvine - Chapter Two
Posted By: Vinziah Arcus<were.midget@gmail.com>
Date: 27 March 2007, 8:30 am

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2000 Hours, March 23, 2525 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Office of Naval Intelligence Medical Facility
Planet Reach

      Irvine awoke once more, this time with less shock. His head was facing a curtain wall, he didn't bother to move
      it. The pillow beneath him felt unfamiliar. The pain was gone. A tube was sticking out of his arm through which painkillers were constantly streaming.

      The memories were still there, he had dreamt of them. He forced them to the back of his mind with difficulty.

      Irvine rolled to the other side of the bed, dragging thin uncomfortable hospital sheets with him. He looked around the room. Catherine Halsey was slumped in a chair in the corner of the small 5 x 5 metre compartment. Her glasses had slipped down to the edge of her nose where they swung precariously with every breath she took in. An untouched glass of something alcoholic was sitting on the edge of a bedside cabinet between the bed and the chair. An empty foam cup squatted next to it.

      Irvine reached forward to the end of the bed and grabbed a clipboard. At the top, written in a different colour to the other lines and by a different hand, read: "Maximum hourly dosage – Pain Killers" and "Subject displaying signs of mental discomfort, otherwise healthy and recovering."

      A checklist of augmentations had been ticked off with notes scribbled beside each one. He ran down the list silently. Nothing surprising, and then… "Shit…" he swore under his breath as he read the last line: 'Suppressed sexual drive.'

      Catherine stirred and reflexively adjusted her glasses before yawning and rubbing her eyes. Irvine watched, unmoving, not a flash of emotion escaped from his glare.

      "Irvine," Halsey spoke with equal impassiveness "Your awake, have a good sleep?"

      Irvine silently replaced the chart and lay back down.

      "You've been moved from the others, Irvine, down to the planet." After several seconds of silence from Irvine who didn't in the least acknowledge the doctor but pretended to count the roof tiles, Catherine continued, "I know you Irvine, better than anyone else. I accept that you resent what's being done to you. I feel the same way."

      Irvine didn't bite.

      Catherine's voice softened and she leaned forward closer to Irvine, "I'm afraid there is nothing that anyone can do for you any more. The only option is for you to change. As unfair and cruel as it sounds, that's the only way."

      I can think of another, thought Irvine. He bit his lip.

      Catherine leaned back and sighed outwardly. She stood and brushed a crease from the lab coat she was never seen without. She adjusted her glasses once more, grabbed the foam cup, peered inside and placed it back on the table.

      As she walked from the room she turned and looked into Irvine's eyes which were still fixed on the ceiling, "Now… If you'll excuse me I have less selfish Spartans waking up in orbit who deserve my attention…"

      Irvine threw himself forward, sitting upright with fire in his eyes, "Selfish? Selfish?! You take my life away from me at the age of seven, force me to become one of your emotionless, killing, super-soldiers and I'm selfish?! How dare you?!"

      Catherine met his relentless gaze, "Perhaps 'selfish' wasn't the right word to use…" she remarked idly and walked out, leaving Irvine to sit, fuming, his chest heaving, in the bed.

      Irvine knew that 'Selfish' had indeed been the word Halsey had intended to use, such a woman as herself would never be so impractical. She had succeeded in stirring him up though, and he was as angry with himself as he was with her.

      He looked around the room, his sharp eyes somehow taking in more detail than usual. He began to force all those hindering thoughts from his mind, there would be time for those later, but right now it was time to escape the Spartan II project.

1330 Hours, April 29, 2520 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex,
Planet Reach

      Deja floated at the front of the class, wrapping up the Spartans previous mathematical topic: Algebra II and it's application to battle strategy.

      Irvine sat with his head lying horizontally on the desk at the back of the classroom, drawing circles in the sawdust he'd carved out from his seat.

      As she spoke, Deja observed with wonder the miserable Spartan who managed to absorb every piece of information she fed to him without listening to a word of it. Well, perhaps her next topic would interest him.

      As she introduced Stealth to the class Irvine showed no discernible interest - at least not to anyone with a capacity less than that of Deja. She picked up on miniscule spikes in the boy's pulse and respiration, the vaguest signs of interest.

      Over the next fortnight of lessons the seventy-four Spartans learnt of and practiced stealth. Irvine excelled. The child could practically become invisible. During a game of hide and seek he had remained undiscovered for six hours and was only found then with the use of thermal photography. He had stolen scent cover from somewhere – none of the officials were aware they had any – and hidden beneath the loose floorboards in the mess hall. What was so miraculous about that was that the hall had been cleaned that day and no-one had seen any sign of the Spartan.

      086 Persisted with his uninterested cover but from then on stealth was his first choice to overcome any obstacle, he incorporated it unimaginably into a wide range of scenarios and began to learn ways of combining stealth with his other skills. Very soon he became a most outstanding student and formidable opponent.

2015 Hours, March 23, 2525 (Military Calendar) /
Epsilon Eridani System, Office of Naval Intelligence Medical Facility
Planet Reach

      Irvine stood in the middle of the room He had awoken in.

      Two adjacent walls stood with an automatic door on one side of the room, the other side was blocked off by curtains, but upon inspection Irvine found there was nothing behind these but extra space for surgery.

      Irvine could see through the stained glass of the door that there were two armed guards standing on the other side of the wall and that a security camera was focused on the men at all times.

      There was also a camera in his room. It's lens reflected a distorted image of the tall youth, dressed in a hospital gown, standing uneasily for the first time in weeks. The camera was placed directly above the door but was angled too evenly for it to actually it; instead it was aimed up to have a better view of the rest of the room.

      Irvine looked emotionlessly into the lens before calmly walking forward and standing with his back to the wall, to the right of the door and below the camera's field of vision. He stood just far enough away from the door and so close to the wall that when the automatic door sensed him and slid open and the guard on the left turned to find out what had triggered it, Irvine remained unseen.

      The guard to the left jerked his thumb into the room and the guard on the right took out his magnum sidearm and swung around the door in what he thought was a swift motion but Irvine saw as a sluggish one.

      The guard scanned the room from his right to left with his gun held out straight in front of him. The man was rather large, at least seven foot, and particularly bulky. As Irvine appeared in his vision he had what seemed to be no time at all to react, the Spartan grabbed the gun by the barrel with both hands and wrenched it from the man's grip.

      As soon as the gun was free Irvine reversed his motion and struck the man twice on the forehead with the gun's butt. He stepped back to make space for a solid kick into the man's groin. He lifted his leg and straightened his knee in a lightning fast movement. His shoeless foot found the guards soft organs and squashed them against his pelvis.

      The man doubled over, an almost comically pained expression on his face, clutching his injured appendage as the other guard entered the room.

      This guard was equally built but already had his gun trained on the boy. Irvine unleashed another kick at the gun a moment before it fired. The pistol spun through the air, flashing over the view of the security camera for a fraction of a second.

      Pain shot up Irvine's leg from the bones at the top of his foot. Amazingly though, they were still intact. The stray bullet from the gun embedded itself in the wall behind the Spartan.

      The guard, who had been watching his gun spinning over his head, looked down in time to see a large fist rapidly growing in size before he toppled backward, tripped over his unconscious comrade and smacked his head on the tiled floor, bloody, obliterated nose and all.

      Irvine poked his head around the doorframe, pistol in hand. No-one else was in the hallway. He lifted the magnum, leveled it at the camera, who's black lens paused and zoomed in on the crumpled bodies next to the scowling teenager, and fired. A bullet smashed through the center of the lens and into the inner-workings of the camera which blew up with a shower of sparks.

      As a siren blared out around the complex, Irvine set off swiftly down the corridor.