Debrief [H&R 5]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 14 September 2003, 11:00 PM
Halo's and Rings
AN: At this point people started asking for a romance. So . . .yeah
Daxia had expected a long debriefing, to some extent she'd even expected the hostility. After all, they were all that was left and that was difficult to believe for those who hadn't seen it.
What Daxia had not expected was Captain Agata, sitting with the therapist going over every detail of Daxia's report with a comb so fine a flea couldn't get through it.
"So tell me Lieutenant Ring, this . . . ship you speak of."
"The structure." Daxia said patiently, though her patience was wearing thin. "Halo was a structure." She hid a grimace as Captain Agata and Dr Harrison shared a look. The friendly doctor shifted in her seat and leaned forward.
"Structure then. You have destroyed it?"
"Yes." Daxia grimaced. "I have, John and I did with Cortana's help. It's all in my report." She added, tapping the port folio that sat, opened, on Agata's desk. The captain looked high sceptical as she read a few more lines.
"I have read this . . . report." Agata wasn't impressed. "So if you have destroyed it the threat is over, no?"
"No!" Daxia leapt from her seat and paced the small office.
Since their pick-up they had been debriefed once and then they'd handed in their reports. Before anything else could happen though they were separated and Daxia had spent the last two hours confirming everything in her report. Twice. Now she was getting sick of it.
"No." She continued, calmer again. "343 Guilty Spark spoke of more installations. More Halo. That could mean more Flood and also mean that the Covenant still possess the ability to release the Flood." She turned on the captain and the doctor. "The Flood cannot reach earth." She hissed.
"Sit down please." Harrison spoke as if Daxia was relating the weather. She shuffled through some papers and then turned to Daxia with a serious, yet compassionate expression.
"Mark Walters. He was your friend, right? A one time lover - I hear you were even engaged."
"Once." Daxia replied shortly, folding her arms.
"Is he dead?" Harrison asked curiously. Daxia stood and headed to the other side of the room, breathing deeply.
"When I say: Everyone's dead. I mean: everyone. John and I escaped by the skin of our teeth." She turned back to them. "Why don't you believe me?"
"Oh we believe you." Agata assured her, tucking grey hair behind her ear. It sounded as if she was pacifying a child. "So you are the only survivor, with Spartan-117?"
"Yes." Daxia grated.
"And the AI construct Cortana could verify this?"
"Yes!" Daxia wailed. "If you'd talk to her!"
"She is going under a system check. We will verify your statements afterwards." Agata said with a hint of foreboding. Daxia put her face in her hands.
"Now - talk to me about Spartan-117." Harrison said thoughtfully.
"John." Daxia clarified resentfully.
"Yes . . ." Harrison mused. " 'John'." She leaned forward, trying to be Daxia's friend. "A Spartan, pretty intimidating aren't they?"
"He's a big fluffy bunny." Daxia enunciated clearly, talking to Harrison like she would a child. "Unless you piss him off." She added with a small smile. Harrison took this in and nodded. Agata spoke up.
"Did he go overboard - on this . . . 'Halo'?"
"No." Daxia assured her. "He did what he had to do. We all did. It was kill or be killed."
"You believe he was justified in his actions, blowing the Pillar of Autumn up?"
"There was nothing else we could have done!" Daxia exclaimed. Harrison shushed her with a raised hand.
"It's okay, it's okay." Harrison said comfortingly. "I know you believe that."
Harrison shifted, folding her legs in the other direction.
"Have you heard of Stockholm's Syndrome?" She asked. Daxia chuckled.
"I'm not suffering delusions in order to protect the Chief." She told her. "I'm telling you what I saw and experienced on that ring." She realized that Harrison wasn't convinced.
"Spartans can be a little . . . rough." Agata was choosing her words carefully. "He didn't hurt you - did he? You can tell us, Lieutenant, we're here to protect you. It's safe here." She spoke quietly, conspiritally.
"No!" Daxia burst out. "It's not safe here! It's not safe anywhere! The Covenant, the Flood and the Forerunners are all on our case! We need to fight back! To prepare now!"
"Did Spartan-117 make any sexual advances Lieutenant?" Agata asked as if Daxia's outburst hadn't happened.
"No." Daxia said levelly, shaking with rage. "John's a gentleman."
"None at all?" Agata sounded surprised, as if it was a routine part of a mission. "After all, you're a very attractive woman."
"A Spartan's training does not allow for emotion in combat situations." Daxia replied, outsmarting her.
"Yes . . ." Agata slid a sheet of paper towards her. "Yet here your statement says that he singled you out."
"I'm a bloody good mechanic." Daxia gritted her teeth.
"And here again, it says that he took you with him through a Covenant Battle Cruiser, then again to the Pillar of Autumn where you commend him on his bravery and 'loyalty to his comrades in face of danger'. He saved your life at the risk of his own." Agata looked vindicated. "Interesting, a Spartan's training doesn't allow for that either. In extreme situations, which you insist you were in, a Spartan should prioritize."
"In his opinion he could make the final run to the Longsword." Daxia replied levelly.
"But it wasn't yours at the time?" Agata asked.
"Look!" Daxia exploded from her seat, grabbing the lapels of Agata's coat. "He saved my life because we were all that was left! You can't imagine what it was like - fearing silence because then you'd hear the spore coming for you! Wanting to kill you! You've not seen your friends and allies twisted into . . . into things! You've never put a marine out of his misery because he's half Flood already and it's all you can do for him. You. Weren't. There." She let go and jerked her arm out of Harrison's grasp.
"I think you should rest Lieutenant." Agata said to her, looking furious. "We shall resume this later."
Daxia was escorted through the city to a deserted crew barracks. While she had access to beds, showers, entertainment and food dispensers there was no one else there. And she was locked in.
And the noise of Spore was growing in the distance, from each corner of the room. Frantically she ordered the computer to play music, to fill the room with noise. She leaned against a wall, her breathing shallow as the bass thudded through her spine. She slid to the floor, keeping her eyes open to reassure herself there was nothing sneaking up on her.
Little bit of loneliness
A little bit of disregard
A handful of complaints
But I can't help the fact
That everyone can see these scars
Daxia stood, feeling like she was made of lead. She showered and ate and then she slept, not knowing when she'd get another chance.
"It's all right John, we're all friends here." Captain Margrave was saying. He patted John on the shoulder as he circled the seated Spartan. "You can tell us what really happened.
"With respect, I already have sir." John said. The doctor sitting on the other side of the desk looked doubtful, he glanced through John's report once more, pulling out Daxia's crew picture.
"And this is . . ." He asked, though John knew the doctor knew, John explained as if he hadn't explained before.
"Lieutenant Daxia Ring, mechanic first class, pilot first class - Reach's First Distinction." He quoted from the crew roster of the Autumn.
"You know a lot about her."
"I memorized the crew roster of the Autumn, sir." John replied. The doctor glanced at Captain Margrave.
"And Ring and you are the only survivors?" Margrave repeated.
"Yes sir." John answered as calmly as he had the first time. "And the AI construct Cortana."
Margrave walked around to stand over the doctor's shoulder, he looked at the picture thoughtfully.
"She's pretty I suppose." He said, looking up at the Spartan. "I'd be tempted if I was stuck in a Longsword with her for days on end, especially after being through you what you say you went through."
"Lieutenant Ring and I have a working relationship sir." John said, trying not to clench his jaw. "She would give you the same answer, sir."
"And you never once wondered about her?" The captain sounded very sceptical.
"My training does not allow for-"
"But you are human after all." Margrave pressed. John's head snapped around and he stared the captain straight in the eye.
"Barely. Sir." He said.
"Tell us John." The doctor interrupted smoothly. "Before you went to debriefing you were recorded to say 'It will be okay Dax'. I presume Dax is Lieutenant Ring?"
"That is indeed one of her nicknames sir." John replied affably, not wanting to know where this was headed.
"So you are attached to her, if you are to use a nickname." The doctor thought over this. "Dax." He said again. He said it wrong, he said 'Dacks' when really it was softer, 'Dacsh'. Daxia would reem him for it.
"And her conduct on Halo - it was acceptable?" The doctor asked.
"I couldn't fault it. I know marines who would have failed under similar circumstance sir."
"You wouldn't be protecting her, would you?" Margrave asked. "If so, we can protect you John. Tell us what really happened."
"The Pillar of Autumn made a blind jump to escape the Covenant attack on Reach. We did this to avoid leading the Covenant to earth. They followed us and we discovered the Halo structure . . ."
No matter what I do
I can't convince you
To just believe this is real
So I let go
Turn your back like you always do
Face away and pretend that I'm not
But I'll be here
'Cause you're all I got
Daxia was woken by someone switching off the song. She jerked into a sitting position, reaching for a gun or anything she could use to defend herself.
"Relax lieutenant." A wry voice said. Daxia gasped, tears stinging her eyes as she was confronted with a young blonde woman, long curly hair and bright brown eyes.
"Aislinn." She murmured and the younger woman flung herself into Daxia's embrace.
"They told me you were dead." Aislinn sobbed. "They said the Autumn had been gone too long."
"I know. I know." Daxia pulled away from her sister and wiped her eyes on the back of her sleeve. "Everyone else is gone." She said. Aislinn looked at her.
"Everyone?" She asked. Daxia nodded.
"I'm sorry kiddo." She said, brushing a strand of Aislinn's unruly blonde hair off of her face. "I know how much he meant to you."
"I've still got you." Aislinn replied after a beat. She wiped her brown eyes and headed for the food dispensers.
"They said you might be a little unstable, that I wasn't to mention it." Aislinn said as she brought back two trays. She sat down on the other side of the bunk and took a forkful of noodles. "I have to treat you with care."
"They think I'm mad." Daxia replied, toying with her food. "Because we found something that's scary."
"What?" Aislinn asked. Daxia stabbed the fork into the a section of meat and looked at it. "Daxy - what did you find?" Aislinn asked.
"I want you to get off of earth." Daxia said. "I want you to leave."
"And go where?" Aislinn asked. "The Covenant have destroyed everywhere else. The war is and the war is now. We all have to do our part."
"Oh and the part of a failing college student is that important is it?" Daxia snapped. "Listen to me! They're coming and they are not going to make distinctions."
"Who's 'they'?" Aislinn ignored the slur on her behalf.
"Mrs Jenkins?" A crewman entered, Aislinn looked up. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave." He continued. Aislinn looked her sister in the eye.
"Who?" She pressed.
"Mrs Jenkins." The crewman took her arm.
"The Flood." Daxia told her sister, watching as she was led away.
A crewman entered Captain Margrave's office and spoke quietly. John could hear it though, and the captain had pissed him off so much he listened to it.
"The scans on the AI construct are complete. She's not been tampered with." The crewman whispered. Margrave nodded and turned to John.
"Why don't you take a break John?" He said. John stood and nodded.
"I wish to speak with Lieutenant Ring, sir." He said boldly. Margrave glanced at Dr Loyd who paused.
"I'll have to speak with my associate Dr Harrison about that John." The doctor said, if Lieutenant Ring is fit for visitors I'll consider it."
The doctor was true to his word, finding his colleague and comparing notes.
"They believe everything they're saying." Harrison rubbed her temples. Dr Loyd nodded in agreement.
"As far as I can tell Spartan-117 has suffered extreme trauma, he's falling back on protocol."
"Lieutenant Ring doesn't have the luxury." Harrison replied. "She's lashing out - she's dealing with it in her way."
"I think it might be beneficial to let them speak with each other." Loyd suggested.
"You'd be giving them a chance to corroborate any stories they've concocted." Harrison pointed.
"Ring's barracks are being monitored anyway, it may give us a chance to hear what's really going on - at least until we get the confirmation from the AI construct."
"Ok." Harrison agreed.
A little bit insecure
A little unconfident
'Cause you don't understand
I do what I can
But sometimes I don't make sense
What you never want to say
But I've never had a doubt
It's like no matter what I do
I can't convince you
For once just to hear me out
Daxia looked up when the door opened again, she was sitting on her bunk, not listening to the song that was playing. Two crewman escorted John in then left them. She stood, quickly looking him up and down.
"You're ok." She breathed in relief.
"Right back atcha." The chief replied. He headed for the food dispensers and ate the meal he was given ravenously. While he ate Daxia didn't talk, she shut her eyes and rested on the bunk, feeling safe again.
"What did they ask you?" John asked after he'd ate and had a shower. Daxia opened her eyes and sat up.
"They don't believe a word I say, I might have been talking to a brick wall. Did you have any more luck?"
"No." John looked pensive as he stared into his mug of coffee. Daxia tilted her head to the side, she'd never have put the chief down for a coffee kind of guy.
"My sister visited." Daxia said. "The moment I started talking about the Flood they took her away." She leaned her head against the wall of the bunk, remembering. "What if they never believe us?"
"Cortana." John replied. "I have faith in her." He sat down on the floor, his legs crossing at the ankles. He put his back against the metal frame of the bunk and let his head fall backwards on the mattress.
"And if she doesn't pull through." Daxia murmured, so quiet she hoped he wouldn't hear. For a while it seemed like he didn't, but then he answered.
"Then we'll just have to save the world again." He turned his head so he could see her. She had her knees up to her chin, her arms curled around her legs.
The door opened and Captain Margrave walked in, Captain Agata following. John stood but Daxia remained where she was. She would not stand for these bastards.
"The AI construct Cortana has confirmed your account." Margrave said into the silence. "Spartan-117 we need a tactical analysis from you."
"Lieutenant Ring." Agata said. "You have a days shoreleave, then we need back on the front." She left and Margrave waited for John. The Spartan glanced at Daxia who shook her head ever so slightly.
"Just go." She said. "You don't need me for this." She watched the Spartan walk out and stood, intent on tracking down her sister for her one day of shoreleave.