What's the worst lie you ever told? Come on, just between you, me and the walls here. Uh huh. Oh my God. Oh my . . .
Mission From SATU part 1: Daddy Knows Best
What if they all knew, really knew why they were here? What if they knew why they used live rounds to play what was really only a game? What if they knew why they were fighting other Spartans? What if they knew what they were being trained to do? What if they knew that he had known it all along, at least some of it, and had never told them?
What if . . .
Lexicus hated having this much time to think. Thoughts can be dangerous, Lexicus. They are often the soldier's enemy; brash in the face of authority, and fearless in disobeying superiors. Let your thoughts be occupied by the fulfillment of your orders, is that clear? Sir, yes sir. Clear sir. No problem.
He and Chuckles had been the first. They had been abandoned by ONI after their operations against Turpolev in Old Afghanistan [NOTE: See story entitled Bedtime Stories for more info on Turpolev and operations against him]. It seems they had done their job too well, and nobody was waiting to pick them up when school was out. Not immediately, that is. As orphans go, rogue Spartans are a hot item. Considering who these two Spartans were it didn't take long for prospective "parents" to apply. Soon, they were scooped up by "Dad". Turpertrator and Simjanes, two others disavowed by ONI in the same operation, were also adopted. If you wanted to start something that packed an ugly punch, these were the four to build around.
The Spartan program was more expansive and less orderly than they had been led to believe. Together, and under the supervision of "Dad", they had set up Sidewinder Advanced Training Unit. Through one means or another, talented young Spartans were recruited into SATU. After all, who could resist? Advanced training in an exclusive unit, using the latest vehicles and weapons to play a game?! It was like selling money. But like most good things, there was a catch: they would be playing with live ammo, and fighting fellow Spartans.
Lexicus would never forget the first Spartan he saw slaughtered just to capture a flag for blue team. None of them had ever seen the effect an eight-gauge shotgun blast could have on a MJOLNIR helmet. If it hadn't seemed "real" to anyone before Lexicus blew Jack's head off, it certainly was afterward. Lex could still see it: him leaving with the flag; Jack's team kneeling down by him in disbelief, not even returning fire. Him capping the flag, and then taking off his helmet to throw up, while his team stood by silently. Red team losing half it's soldiers in a reckless counter-attack that had nothing to do with the flag. It came easier with each kill, but the first one felt like murder.
That night a cocky blue team member with a wide toothy grin had asked Lex how it felt to "Frag that red dog".
"How did it feel?" Lex replied, grabbing his shotgun and shoving it into the Spartan's face. "You'd have to ask Jack. Oh, Jack's dead isn't he? In that case—"
"That's how it felt." Lex remembered how easy it was to pull the trigger. How he had felt nothing then, and had felt nothing ever since. If you were good, real good, you would survive. If you weren't, then you had no business joining SATU in the first place. That first incident was just what they needed, anyway. Never again did he have to urge a Spartan to kill a fellow Spartan: and that was important. But what if they knew why? Thinking was dangerous.
You will be doing the Earth a great service, a service that only you can do. Don't ever forget that, soldier. Sir, yes sir. I won't sir. Dismissed. But he had lost faith. He was too intelligent not to add things up. Problem was, he was too dead inside to respond. Faith had nothing to do with it: orders were orders. Part of the training.
For years now Spartan blood had been spilled at SATU. For years the brightest and best had cycled through; most to die, some to stay. For years they had been told that they were not yet ready, for whatever it was they were training for. So it continued, with only the toughest and deadliest Spartans left alive. And what did they learn? How to kill highly trained, well armed Spartans without feeling or remorse. Indeed, they were the only unit outside of the Covenant forces themselves who were trained to fight Spartans. This fact was not lost on the four captains, although the others seemed oblivious.
It had been several years since they had all sat peacefully in the same room. Lexicus, Chuckles, Turpertrator and Simjanes sat around a table in the back of blue base; all without their armor, all deep in thought. They had been a part of the initial Spartan program, and all had been betrayed by it. Their crime? They were too good, had worked too hard, and had won too decisively against overwhelming odds. And, most of all, they used their own heads instead of following bad orders. Everyone else at SATU thought they were still in the Spartan program. Everyone else thought that they were training to kill the Covenant.
What's the worst lie you ever told? What if they knew? Lexicus was rescued from his thoughts by a knock on the door. Daddy had come to visit his kids. Walking in, he sat across the table from the four of them without his usual marine escort: if things went south, they would be useless against four highly trained Spartans.
"Good morning, gentlemen" Dad spoke as he flipped through some files. "I believe that we finally have the team we need. I want to cease live-fire training as of now. I can't risk losing anyone at this point. It is time for you all to know what this is about. You can tell the others whatever it takes to bring them along." A data sheet in front of each of them showed them a few specifics. Two teams of six Spartans would be needed, and the captains could choose the remaining eight soldiers from the following names: Ydnar, Hogg, Xraf, Freedomman, KrustyKlown, Rhinox, XrayJ, Darkboones, Thorn, and Blondsniper. Those not chosen and those not on the list were to be eliminated.
Chuckles looked up at Dad. "Eliminated? You know, that rank of yours might have clouded your brain a bit, so let me remind you of something: this is the kind of crap that turned us against ONI in the first place so if you want these guys dead," Chuckles slid a shotgun across the table, "I suggest you do it, you gutless jackass." If the one they called "Dad" was scared, he didn't show it. He didn't even flinch. For the first time in his life Chuckles saw someone returning his powerful gaze, unmoved.
"What happens or doesn't happen to the remaining Spartans is none of your concern. And soldier, if you ever speak in that manner to me again you will be executed. Is that clear?" Silence. "Did you lose your hearing, soldier? IS THAT CLEAR?"
"Yes sir." Chuckles answered, but his icy stare said something else.
"You have one day to choose your teams." Standing up and gathering his things, he said "I will be back tomorrow at this time."Lexicus had waited as long as he was going to wait.
"Sir, what is our mission?"
Colonel Ackerson, also known as 'Dad', replied as if he was telling them the time. "Your target is Spartan-117, the Masterchief."