For Every Cowboy . . . [H&R 15]
Posted By: Jillybean<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 18 October 2003, 10:16 PM
Halos and Rings
AN: Miss me? ;)
For Every Cowboy . . .
The exact cause of the Spartan III failure had been attributed to a miscalculation in the reactions to a muscle growth hormone. Coupled with a clumsy cybernetic set of enhancements the brutes had been given strength beyond intention.
It was unofficially agreed that they had pushed the project too far, too fast. In their haste to defeat the Covenant the doctors defeated themselves.
But as Daxia watched the soldiers that were filing out in front of her and John she couldn't help think that they had chosen the wrong people. Twenty men and women stood before he, each as grizzled as the last. Not the kind of people she'd like to entrust the fate of the galaxy to. She could sense John's disappointment beside her, in some way, she knew he had wanted to adopt these and make them his unit.
In his position Daxia would have appreciated a word of comfort, of support. Except John wasn't her. He watched them calmly, ready to start imparting orders. This was his jurisdiction, not hers.
Still, she let her fingertips brush the back of his hand and surprisingly he responded with a little twitch smile, he glanced at her then stepped forward to confront them.
"Officer on deck!" Shouted the Spartan at the end. There was an eerie clunking sound as twenty suits of MJOLNIR armour snapped to attention. John nodded once to the Spartan.
"Thank you . . ."
"Spartan-1119 sir!" The Spartan shouted back. Daxia restrained a grimace. John nodded, then he seemed to change. It was the Master Chief who started to acquaint himself with the troops. He introduced 'The Commander' briefly, giving the Spartan a cursory second to take in Daxia as their superior officer, before dismissing them to their barracks in the Halo swamps.
The Chief turned back to Daxia. She stood, looking up at him even though she was standing on the raised step to the swamp HQ building.
"They're not ready." He said, an alarming statement in itself. Daxia swallowed and kept her hands clasped behind her back. At ease.
"Can you make them ready?"
"Yes." The Chief saluted her then left, heading in the same direction as his Spartans.
Daxia remained where she was watching the Pelican that had dropped the Spartans off rise above the mist and into the Halo atmosphere. It left her all alone in the foul smelling air and she felt distinctly uneasy. A marine crossed the make-shift assembly ground in front of her, only acknowledging her presence with a brief salute.
Preying on her mind was the soft clicking of Flood Spore. It wasn't the first time she wondered how she had survived the hectic flight from the depths of the Forerunner installation.
The water rippled and she felt her pistol in her hands before she registered the bubble of air that escaped from the waters surface. She fired once and the water simply returned to its natural state of calm.
Methane gas. A very natural occurrence in these swamps. The rational part of her mind tried to insist. That didn't mean that she could pry her fingers from the metallic surface of her pistol though.
Spartan-1119 watched for the Master Chiefs approach and snapped to attention the second he entered the room. The others in the barrack did like wise, yet they were to remain standing as the Master Chief paced by them. He did not give the order to stand 'at ease'.
"Were you trained by Chief Mendez?" He asked them. Spartan-1119 answered for his troop.
"Sir! Yes sir!"
"Good. Then let us begin a training simulation."
Decked out in full armour, complete with Cortana chip in his skull, Master Chief watched the Spartans run the assault course that the marines had formed for him.
It was an insight.
Spartan-1117 took an amazing jump over one of the Warthogs, spun and flung a grenade at the mounted gun. The marines had to scramble as the plasma grenade started to fizz away, but the Spartan took each out with a paint ball.
Spartan-1113 broke one marines arm with a careless blow, then continued onwards to the flag with no care to her fallen comrade, Spartan-1115, who in turn shot a paint ball into a sarge's head in order to escape his foe.
Lastly, Spartan-1119 reached the green flag and thrust it high into the air. The remaining Spartans sulked.
Master Chief was silent as the Spartans returned to him. There was no expression that could be seen through their visors, but he suspected they weren't wearing expressions anyway.
"Impressive." Cortana said dryly in his ear.
"They got the job done." The Chief replied. "In the end, that's all we need."
The Spartans stood before him in two lines of ten.
"They can do the job we want." Cortana appeared to be agreeing, but the Chief felt she it wasn't an agreement in relation to his statement.
"Next time try to minimize our casualties." The Chief said, trying to inject some humor into his tone. "However, you accomplished the task. We leave at 06:00 hours, get some rest, you rise at 04:00."
The Spartans filed out smartly and the Chief was uncomfortably reminded of a younger self. As if she had been reading his mind Cortana said:
"You're not like that. Just in case you were wondering."
"I get the job done." The Chief replied.
He persuaded Cortana to locate Daxia, she was in the grasslands and he assumed that she was visiting Aislinn. However as he went to check on Aislinn's camp he found that Daxia's sister was working on the fields with the rest of the colonists. She grinned and waved him over when she spotted him and started chatting away about the joys of manual labour. John noticed she was wearing a marine's jacket, cut off to fit her smaller stature. She grinned at him when he noticed.
"Lieutenant Jones." She informed him. "Don't tell Dax, you know how she gets about stuff like that."
"Why would I inform her?" John asked, genuinely curious. Aislinn laughed at her warped reflection in his visor.
"Because she usually gets her lot to spy on me. Just to make sure I'm being a good little girl. Do me a favour John, let me just have a little fun?"
"Yes ma'am." John replied. He excused himself and followed the NAV point Cortana set so he could find Daxia's neural interface.
He found her sitting at the edge of a cliff. Her blonde curls shifted fractionally as she turned to see him approach, but she soon settled back into watching the sea. The Chief sat beside her and took his helmet off, setting it down beside him he took a real look at the scenery.
"Something wrong?" He rested his wrists on his knees and waited for her response. It was a long time coming.
"Lara left today. I think one of us should have gone with her."
"You could have volunteered." John reminded her. Daxia sighed shakily, he was surprised to see tears streaked on her cheeks. "Or not . . ."
"I didn't want to go with her. I was scared to go with her."
John held a sigh back and put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"Because of the Flood that might be on the ring?"
"No." Daxia looked up at him and caught his gaze. "I was scared that I might never see you again."
"Uh . . ."
"Don't answer that."
They watched Halo rotate into night.