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Most users ever online was 29 on October 1st 2013, 12:09 am

    Origins: Final Hour

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 17th 2016, 4:19 am

    Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "He's beautiful." the young woman smiled, holding the crudely bundled child in her embrace. "Look, honey, he's even got your eyes!"

    The young man hesitantly approached his wife in the bed. Their son's birth had struck them in the dead of night, and they had not had the time to bring her to the Hospital. Thankfully, after several hours of a woman in pain coaching her husband, their child was born.

    "How can you tell?" the man scratched the brown stubble on his chin. "Both his eyes are closed."

    If looks could kill, the woman's husband would have died five times over. Her glare pierced his otherwise carefree soul, and with a start he recoiled. Situating himself back at her side, he glanced down at the pudgy face of his son.

    As a man who never actually knew his father, this was a momentous occasion. Never before in his life had he ever thought of himself to be a dad, nor had he even known that he wanted to be, until this very moment.

    "He's- uh- got your hair." the man shrugged, as his wife chuckled, gently rocking the child back and forth.

    "I suppose this means I should report to the UNSC. Take my maternity leave."

    "Fuck 'em." the man said. "We filed for you're leave months ago, they haven't responded yet. If they ask, I'll tell them you had our kid, and we can sort out the issues later."

    The growing war against Insurrection across the Inner and Outer Colonies had weighed down heavily on the couple. Both ODSTs within the UNSC, they were expected to be available at every possible moment. Had the man's best friend not pulled some strings, neither of them would be sitting here now, and their son would likely have been a miscarriage.

    The UNSC had become so desperate for fighters in this time, that even pregnant women were expected to fight. Doctor Eusine Halsey, a family friend of the man's, had explicitly told the UNSC that the use of pregnant woman was inhuman and ghastly.

    "He's our son. So I want your input." the woman said, searching his face. "I've been thinking of Blaine, what do you think?"

    "It's fittin'. I like it." the man smiled. "If I may suggest a middle name, however? I'd like to name him after my own father."

    "Which one? Morgan or Angus?" the woman asked.

    "I always knew him as Angus. So, if it's okay, I'd like to give him that name."

    The woman smiled, as she looked down at the bundle in her hand.

    "Blaine. Blaine Angus Harlowe. 3:16 AM, January 3rd, 2511."

    The man scoffed, even when she was off duty, his wife always carried her work with her. As a combat medic that also had certifications in nursing, and other medical practices, she liked to display it every chance she got.

    "Welcome to the family, boyo." the man said.

    "You want to hold him?"

    The man stammered for a second, as she held out the child to him.

    "What if I break him?" he asked.

    "Morgan Harlowe, you're smarter than that!" she chuckled, insisting he take the child. "You can't break a baby just by holding him. Humanity would've died out long ago if that were the case."

    Cautiously, Morgan took the bundle in to his arms. Resting his son's head on the crook of his arms, he smiled down at the baby. He chuckled as the kid smacked his lips, before looking up at him.

    "They train you for a lot of things in boot. Don't really teach you much about this though, huh?"

    His wife nodded quietly, before turning her attention to the window. It was still early in the morning by many people's standards. Still, it confused her when their window suddenly illuminated. In fact, it was illuminating so quickly, she could easily tell that it was gunfire, which explained the distant thumping she could hear outside.

    "Morgan?!" the woman sat up, pulling the pistol from her bed-side drawer. "You need to hail Richard. New Alexandria's under attack!"

    Without hesitation, the man looked down at his child, before passing him back off to her. Standing quickly, Morgan rushed over to the corner of the room, where his personal computer lit up.

    "Greetings, Morgan Harlowe. How may I assist you this fine morning?"

    "Patch me in to UNSC command in Eposz." he said, as the AI beeped in affirmation.

    "I've notified Sergeant Richard Coldwell at the UNSC checkpoint in Visegrad. Patching you through."

    "Thank you, Isis." Morgan said, his fingers nervously tapping on the desk in front of him.

    Suddenly, a projected video of a man with a square face, blazing red hair adorning his head. He didn't look in the least bit tired, so he had clearly been up and atom for a PT run, or so Morgan deduced.

    "Hey, Scotch." Richard said gruffly. "Good thing I just got back from my morning run. Did you two have your kid?"

    "We did." Morgan smiled. "Blaine Harlowe- wait, that can wait."

    Morgan shook his head, as an explosion rang out just outside of their window. The force of the explosion had been enough to shatter the window, shards of glass scattering over the floor. Gunfire and screams filled the dark of night, the occasional flash could be seen in the window frame.

    "Good God man!" Richard said. "I'll have a Pelican there in five. Tongue, Brains! Get your worthless asses up! Innies are attacking in the heart of New Alexandria. Iceman out."

    Morgan sighed with relief, before pulling his own pistol out from a hidden compartment in his desk. The door slammed open downstairs, his eyes snapping to his wife and kid. She covered their son's ears, as the lone intruder stomped around downstairs. Morgan stood at the door to their bedroom, pressing his back against the wall.

    He could hear the intruder clomping his way up the stairs. These weren't insurrectionists, those combat boots sounded way too heavy. The door fragmented open, Morgan's son balling from the bed. The intruder stuck the barrel of his gun through the door, as Morgan smacked it upwards.

    Whipping his left elbow around the corner, he felt his elbow make contact with the man's nose. Thrusting his left foot out into the man's gut, Morgan pulled the rifle from the man's hand. Tossing it to the floor beside him, Morgan grit his teeth, before tackling the man to the ground.

    Pointing the pistol into the young teenager's face, Morgan glared heavily into the young private contractor's eyes. The man struggled to get away, Morgan's weight pressing heavily upon him. Without further hesitation, Morgan placed the barrel of his pistol to the young teen's temple, before pulling he trigger.

    "Using young kids, that's sick." Morgan spat, standing up.

    Turning around, he could see his wife unsteadily stand to her feet. He knew she wouldn't be in any condition to run, but they had to get out of town, and quick. Policing the rifle on the floor, she shook her head,  offering Blaine to him.

    "When that Pelican gets here, you need to get in it." she said, handing him their kid, and taking the rifle into her own hands. "Don't worry, I'll be right behind you. I can't move as fast, and our son's life is more important to me than anything else."

    The man hesitated, but could hear the drone of the Pelican above them. If anyone was befitting of the DMR in her hands, it was her. Not only did she act as a Combat Medic, she was proficient in long-range engagements, preferring a mid range rifle to an assault rifle any day.

    He knew that the gunfire was going to be loud, and as a precaution, placed a pair of earmuffs over his son's ears. Holding Blaine in his left arm, Morgan held his pistol in his right. With one last curt nod, the man and his wife made their way down the stairs. Out the front window, Morgan could see the Pelican with their squad mates several feet away from them.

    Hunching over, Morgan made himself a smaller target, before sprinting down the walkway of their humble abode, and to the middle  of the cul-de-sac. Bullets whizzed by him, as the squad members and other various UNSC Marines returned fire.

    As Morgan approached, one soldier stepped up to him, hand placed on his chest.

    "Sorry sir, this is not an evacuation Pelican. Return to your home."

    "Stand down Private!" an ODST walked over, smacking the Marine's hand down. "I'll have you know this is Warrant Officer Morgan Harlowe, and the woman behind him is Gunnery Sergeant Amber Harlowe."

    "They don't have IDs, sir." the Private scoffed.

    "Don't worry about it, we're bringing them back to base with us!" Richard snarled. "Tongue, Brains, Hyde, get your asses back here!"

    Three ODSTs, who had taken cover behind whatever they could find, made a hasty retreat to the Pelican. Standing with their guns facing the fire, a pair of them returned rounds, while the other stood at attention.

    "Craig." Richard grunted. "Take this Pelican back to base, escort Scotch and Doc to safety."

    "And you?" Craig asked, placing a hand on Richard's chest.

    "I'll work with Zephyr Squad, make a sweep of the City for these cowards." Richard nodded. "Just get the newest member of our family out safely, do you understand?!"

    Craig nodded, before tapping the other two on the shoulders. The ODSTs turned, Craig motioning for the Pelican. Morgan clambered in, nestling his child in the farthest corner of the troop bay. Craig sat beside the bundle, as Morgan jumped back out to get his wife. The other two ODSTs covered him.

    Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, the two of them struggled to get to the Pelican. His wife grunted in his left ear, as he felt her entire body shudder. Blood sprayed onto the concrete in front of them, as he felt her collapse.

    "NO!" Morgan yelled, falling to his knees beside her.

    Using what little of his strength he had left, he raised her in his arms.  Placing her into the Pelican, he climbed in. With a rough tap against the side of the bird, the bay hatch closed. Morgan applied both of his hands against her abdomen, where she had been bleeding profusely.

    "I need biofoam!" Morgan yelled, as she gingerly placed a bloody hand on his cheek.

    "Promise me you'll watch over Blaine." Amber spoke softly, her eyes searching his face.

    "Don't talk like that. We've been through worse." Morgan said, while the ODSTs scrambled for a can of biofoam.

    "Got it!" Craig said, bringing the can over.

    "Don't worry." Amber smiled as she sang softly, a light glaze forming over her eyes. "About a thing, 'cause every little thing... is gonna be alright."

    "This isn't the end!" Morgan said, tears streaming down his face. "You've got to watch our son grow up! He needs you, I need you!"

    "You'll make it." she smiled, before her hand began to slack, thudding to the floor.

    The hum of the Pelican silenced for Morgan, as he stared teary eyed down at the still form in front of him. The sound of his heart thumping in his chest was all that he heard. Raising her head to his chest, Morgan gently stroked her shoulder length hair, while one of the other ODSTs held the baby in their arms.

    "Someone wanna silence this thing?!" one of them groaned at the crying baby in his arms.

    Gently placing Amber down on the floor, Morgan stood. The other ODST, besides Craig, instinctively took the baby from the first ODSTs arms. Morgan grabbed the ODST by his throat, before whipping a nasty punch across his cheek.

    "That thing, is my son!" Morgan snarled. "Maybe I should silence you, huh?!"

    "Lay off, Scotch." Craig said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry for your loss, in fact, I'm sure we all are. Fighting among ourselves won't bring her back."

    Craig turned to the ODST that Morgan had punched and offered a hand. Upon helping the ODST to his feet, Craig had delivered another swift punch into the man's chin.

    "-and YOU need to learn some damn tact." Craig growled. "A man just lost his wife, show some god damn respect."

    The final ODST gently rocked the child, before passing him off to Morgan. Helping the ODST back off of the floor, the final ODST dragged him halfway across the bay to the far corner.

    When Morgan felt the weight of the Pelican shift, he knew they were close to landing. Colonel Hackett would likely have some choice words for him, but at that moment, he didn't care.


    "-in fact, I should have you court marshaled!" Hacket's face was red with anger, a vascular vein pushing through his temple.

    "Then do it, sir." Morgan said. "My wife and I gave our everything to the UNSC. If I expected some kind of assistance in return, than put me in chains."

    "In doing so, you would condemn a child." a man entered the room. "Colonel Hackett, I had advised you several times over the past month to grant Mr. and Mrs. Harlowe their leave of absence."

    "I dunno about you egg-heads in the lab, Doctor Halsey." Hackett growled, turning to face the man. "However, we do things differently in the field. We follow orders. Orders from the highest rung of the UNSC ladder."

    "Sir, with all due respect." Eusine coughed into his fist. "What is the point of fighting in this war, if we are stripping the civil liberties of our people? It seems highly hypocritical to deny our soldiers the very rights that they are fighting for."

    "This man lost his wife today, on the day of his son's birth." Eusine continued. "Put yourself in his shoes, Colonel. If it had been your wife, your newborn, would you not have done the same?"

    "I'm not upset by his use of military transport, or his usage of military personnel to quell a joint operation between PMCs and the Insurrection." Hackett scoffed. "What does piss me off, Doctor, is the fact that he completely disregarded orders from the Admiralty. It's not fair, but the order stands."

    "What will you do then, Colonel?" Eusine crossed his arms. "Report Mr. Harlowe to ONI? Have him summarily court marshaled? What of the son his wife died to protect? What of him? Cobalt Squad is your greatest squad on base, their combat success rate is beyond impressive."

    "Amber and Morgan are the figureheads of Cobalt Squad, without them, you may as well place the others in the basic infantry." Eusine continued with a shrug of the shoulders. "You've lost one of the dynamic duo, are you willing to condemn the other?"

    Hackett growled, smashing his fist against the desk in front of him. Without another word, Hackett tilted his head towards the door. Morgan stood, following Halsey to the door.

    "Harlowe." Hackett grunted, Morgan paused. "I'm sorry about your loss and all. However, a Military base is no place for your kid. ONI deems you too much of an asset to the UNSC to just let you go. You have until tomorrow at Evening Mess to find your son a home. Otherwise, I have to file the report, and ONI will find one for you."

    "Yes sir." Morgan said, sighing as the door closed behind him.

    "I'm sorry about Amber. She was a phenomenal student, and the life of the barracks." Eusine sighed. "I've taken the liberty of taking Cobalt off of the roster for active duty for tomorrow. If you want my advice, you should leave before Morning Mess. If you have any relatives in the immediate area, you need to find them."


    There was no other option for Morgan. He and Amber had no extended family on Reach. If Cobalt Squad remained off of the active duty roster any longer than a day, ONI would start asking questions. They would steal his son and put him in a foster home. Knowing them, they wouldn't even give him the name of the family he'd be put into.

    Instead, he opted to put him in the nearby Orphanage. At least then he could give the handlers his contact information, in the event that Blaine got adopted, they could tell him where he went. Morgan's goal was to retire from the military shortly, and hopefully take Blaine back at that time.

    The ODSTs from earlier that morning had stayed by his side, however, they had not geared up. Richard and Zephyr Squad had done a decent job of sweeping the city clean of Insurrectionists. Obviously, it had been hard to distinguish people that went against the UNSC from those that didn't. So their search ended when the Insurrectionist and PMC troops scurried off into the shadows once more.

    Richard had taken the news the hardest. Amber was his little sister, and he had always sworn to protect her. He had been so shaken up by the tragic loss, that he confined himself to the barracks. He refused to go with Morgan to drop Blaine off at the Orphanage. He insisted that Hackett should cut Morgan's ties, so his nephew could live with his father, but Hackett wouldn't hear of it.

    "Hello, my, what a large crowd you have here." the woman at the front of the room said. "Are you here to adopt."

    "No." Morgan sighed, looking down at the more expertly wrapped bundle in my arms. "My name is Warrant Officer Morgan Harlowe, twenty-first ODST division. This is my son, Blaine Angus Harlowe. He was born this morning, and I cannot take care of him."

    "Sir, this is quite unexpected." the woman said, taken aback by it all. "What about his mother?"

    "She's not with us." one of the ODSTs said, illiciting a smack to the back of his head. "What I mean to say is, she passed this morning, in the firefight on Elm."

    "Oh dear." the woman frowned. "Well, as you can clearly see, the demand for adoption at this time is very low. I think we can host Blaine for a while. I can't guarantee that he gets adopted, however."

    "What's the policy for unadopted children?" Morgan asked, as she sighed.

    "Any child in our care that turns eighteen years of age is released from this place. We are not responsible for what happens afterwards." she frowned. "Thankfully, that's never happened."

    "May I ask your name?" Morgan frowned, looking her in the eyes.

    He hadn't noticed it, but the other children in the Orphanage had stopped what they were doing to watch the group of men talking to the woman in front of him.

    "Agatha, Agatha Sanders." she said. "My co-worker, Tasha Lowry, isn't here right now. However, I can fill her in when she gets here."

    "Thank ye, lassie." Morgan said, tears welling up in his eyes again. "I'll never forget you, my son."

    Holding his son up to his chest, he gently rubbed his son's back one last time.

    "Don't make the same mistakes your father did, boyo."

    Last edited by Shad0wChas3r on April 11th 2018, 3:07 am; edited 6 times in total



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 17th 2016, 4:33 am

    If you've managed to make it to this Author's Notes, I thank you for reading through that. I'm sure you could all tell by now what this is. For those of you who don't know however *if there are lurkers on this forum that haven't read it's previous iteration* this is a revamped version of Uprising: Blaine's beginning.

    First change made was the title, obviously. Much like the title, the content of the story will have some major changes in comparison to the previous remake. I'm sure many of you are probably groaning on the other side of your screens saying; "Oh my god, really? Just drop it already."

    I agree. Blaine has had so many revamps, rehashes, and retcons over the years that it's hard to determine what's right or not. That's why I'm announcing that this is only the beginning. It's time for a complete overhaul on Blaine himself, the characters he interacts with, and the course he's going to be following.

    Some things will remain the same, but a lot of the old 'lore' that you may have become familiar with is likely to change. This will be an entirely new story, using familiar, yet revamped characters. If nothing else, this is to tell the story that Blaine as a character deserves.

    After I've finished this remake of Uprising, I'll be working my way through Blaine's ENTIRE saga as a character. I'm sorry if this is isn't something that interests you. I'm writing this project to tell the story I should've told in the first place.

    No more wild-card gimmicks, no more Superman, no more blatant copy pasting. This is the dark, gritty story that I first thought up several years ago, but lacked the proper techniques to bring to fruition.

    For those of you that liked my more light hearted side to story telling, as seen in the older iterations of Blaine's story. Don't worry, that's not going anywhere. The cast will react with each other in the same way, it's just the personalities and development that will change.

    With this announcement, I officially declare the old iterations of Uprising, Homecoming, Orion, Dark before Dawn, and Whispers in the Dark non-canon.

    They were all great learning experiences, and the feedback earned from each of them have helped me get to this point where I fell pretty comfortable with my writing.

    It's time that my first fictional character gets what he deserves. A proper story that isn't written by an inexperienced Superman fanatic. With characters that aren't bland, television tropes. A story that can make me proud to be the author of it.

    It won't be perfect, it may not be what you're looking for. However, it's a start. Blaine's adventure begins again, and this, is his Origins.

    Thank you for reading!



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Post  Manny on March 19th 2016, 12:30 am

    A strong start Very Happy

    I like the fact that this will be gritty. Seeing Blaine from your old stories change here will be like comparing Adam West's batman to Christian Bale's. Dark and gritty is what I love.
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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 12:33 am

    To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It had been five years since Blaine had been placed in the Orphanage. In that time, he had made very little in the ways of friends. Most of the older kids tended to themselves, while kids around his age avoided him like he contracted some sort of contagious illness.

    Ms. Sanders was the only woman who had truly cared for him in that time. Her co-worker, Tasha Lowry, avoided him just as much as the others had. He had occasionally overheard Ms. Sanders and Ms. Lowry arguing over him. At his age, not much had retained about their fights, save the letters that Tasha kept yelling.

    Blaine was an exceptionally fast learner, able to complete his entire alphabet and numbers chronologically. As a result, when he heard Ms. Lowry yell the letters U, N, S, and C, he assumed the letters had something to do with him. What they meant, however, he had no clue.

    On this day, Ms. Sanders and a handful of the older kids had gone out to find jobs. They were getting close to being adults, and Ms. Sanders wanted them prepared for the future. Blaine knew the rule that Ms. Lowry had placed on him, he was to stay in the corner until Ms. Sanders came back. He wasn't allowed to play with others, and he certainly wasn't allowed to speak.

    That, however, didn't stop the other kids from instigating him. Charlie Stromar and his friends walked over. Several years older than Blaine, they seemed to have just as much disdain for the young boy as Ms. Lowry.

    "Hey look boys, it's the tool!" Charlie sneered, pushing Blaine backwards.

    Blaine's chair toppled, dumping him onto the floor. Blaine looked up to Ms. Lowry futily for support, but was un-surprised when none came. Blaine recoiled, Charlie's foot pinning itself on the younger boy's chest.

    "What do you have to say today, Blainey boy?" Charlie asked, spitting on Blaine's forehead.

    Blaine wiped the moisture off of his forehead, attempting to break free of his captor. With one good turn, Blaine was free. He still had yet to break any of Ms. Lowry's rules, so he attempted to scramble away.

    Adam and Lyle, Charlie's friends, grabbed him my the shoulders, however. Blaine screamed for help, as they dragged him back to his corner. A couple of other kids, Lucy and Brent watched, concern painting their faces. Still, no-one moved a muscle.

    "Quiet down Blaine." Ms. Lowry said. "The others are enjoying play time."

    Adam and Lyle hoisted Blaine onto the wall, as Charlie curled his hand into a fist. With a nasty punch, Blaine cried as his stomach tightened. Whatever he had eaten that morning projected out of his mouth and onto the floor in front of him. Unfortunately for Blaine, it had also landed on Charlie's arm.

    "Big mistake, kid!" Charlie scoffed, grabbing Blaine by his messy black hair.

    Adam and Lyle tripped up Blaine, as Charlie smashed his face into the nasty mess on the carpet.

    "This little piggy likes his gruel, doesn't he?!" Charlie gnashed his teeth, pushing Blaine's face further into the carpet.

    Suddenly, the door opened. Blaine couldn't see who had entered, but it wasn't Ms. Sanders, that much was for certain.

    "OYE!" the voice was deep and stern. "What the hell is this?!"

    Ms. Lowry stood, a nervous look on her face. Charlie and his cronies stopped their torment, as the man approached. They sprinted off, leaving Blaine laying in his own chuke.

    "What kind of backwards hell-hole is this place?!" the man boomed from above Blaine. "Up you come, boyo."

    Blaine flinched as he was hoisted up and off of the carpet. He felt a cloth run over his face, wiping his mess off of his face. Looking at his savior, the man had a solid, stern face. A pair of icy blue eyes peered into his. He recognized this man anywhere. Ms. Lowry had called him Mister Harlowe every time he stopped by to visit.

    Behind Mr. Harlowe was a group of three other men, dressed exactly like him. They wore a lot of padding and metal on their bodies, which Blaine thought must have been uncomfortable. Mr. Harlowe rubbed Blaine's back, before placing him back in a chair.

    "Are you here to adopt, or just to waste our time again; Mister Harlowe?" Ms. Lowry sneered.

    "It's none of your damn business. Ms. Lowry." the man growled.

    "Actually, it's very much my business, hell-pig." Lowry crossed her arms. "What kind of lessons are you teaching these kids, coming in here dressed to the teeth in UNSC attire?!"

    "What kinds of lessons are you teaching these kids to pick on the helpless?!" Mr. Harlowe growled back, turning to her with an accusatory finger. "This an Orphanage or a sweat shop? I mean, these are kids fer Christ's sake!"

    "You don't frighten me, Mr. Harlowe." Ms. Lowry stood, chest puffed out.

    "I should. All it would take is a bit of a background check, and the UNSC would give me all the right to come here and deal with the Insurrectionist scum that you are." Mr. Harlowe pointed his finger square in her face. "I'm warning you. If I come back here and find this boy being bullied again, I will make your life a living hell."

    "Is that a threat?" Lowry sneered.

    "It's a fuckin' promise, cunt." Mr. Harlowe swore, causing Blaine to flinch. "Iceman, the package."

    One of the armored men walked up to Mr. Harlowe, producing an ornate box. Mr. Harlowe turned to Blaine at his table, before sitting next to him.

    "Ms. Sanders tells me it's your fifth birthday today, kiddo." Mr. Harlowe said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Every kid should have a cake on their birthday."

    Opening the box's top, Blaine took notice of a double layered chocolate cake, with a strange light brown frosting. A single candle resided on the top, to which Mr. Harlowe produced a strange metallic box from his pocket.

    Flipping the top open, Mr. Harlowe flicked his thumb against the box, as a small fire erupted from it. The candle lit, as Mr. Harlowe held it out to him.

    "Happy Birthday, Blaine." the man smiled, handing him a plastic fork.

    Blaine looked hesitantly at the cake, before taking a big piece off with his utensil. He recognized the taste of the frosting immediately; peanut butter. One of his favorite flavors.

    "Oh," Mr. Harlowe chuckled. "You're supposed to make a wish and blow out the candle, boyo."

    Blaine looked up at Mr. Harlowe again, a crumb of cake at the corner of his mouth. Smiling, he turned to the candle, closing his eyes.

    "I wish, one day, I could meet my parents." Blaine said, before blowing out the flame on the candle.

    Mr. Harlowe's eyes sullied a bit at the wish, and Blaine could just barely see some tears forming in the corner of his eyes. With a smile, the man gently pat him on the back, removing the candle from the cake.

    "A good wish." Mr. Harlowe said. "I'm sure it'll come true soon."

    "Scotch. I'm sorry, but Hackett's expecting us." one of the men spoke up.

    "Yeah yeah." Mr. Harlowe sighed. "Happy Birthday again, Blaine."

    Leaning down to Blaine, the man wrapped his arms around the kid.

    "Just between you and me lad?" Mr. Harlowe whispered. "Don't be afraid of Ms. Lowry, and certainly don't be afraid to stand up for yerself every once in a while."

    With that, Mr. Harlowe removed himself from Blaine. Standing up, he easily towered over Blaine. With one last glare at Ms. Lowry, the four men walked out of the building. Blaine's eyes followed the men, curious as to who they were. Ms. Lowry had brought up UNSC again, and so did Mr. Harlowe? Did Ms. Lowry not like the letters?

    Either way, Blaine didn't much like Ms. Lowry, so he knew he was going to like UNSC. Lucy and Brent, the two who had watched his torment smiled at Blaine, who sat and finished his cake. Before the door closed, Ms. Sanders stopped it.

    "I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Harlowe." Blaine could hear her stammer at the door. "I'll see to it that the kids responsible are punished, and Ms. Lowry and I will have a conference. Thank you for your patience!"

    The teens that had accompanied Ms. Sanders walked in, taking a moment to look over at Blaine. Some of the teens smiled genuinely, while the others glared in disgust.

    Ms. Sanders closed the door behind her. Her knees trembled, as she sighed in relief. When she opened her eyes, they were much more concentrated than before, her eyebrows furrowing in frustration.

    "Charlie, Adam, Lyle." Ms. Sanders spoke harshly. "You're going to time-out for the rest of the day, and playtime tomorrow."

    "What?!" Charlie whined. "Blaine started it!"

    "I find that very hard to believe." Ms. Sanders shook her head. "This isn't the first time I or someone else have caught you picking on him. Now, you're going to be punished."

    "Be reasonable with them, Agatha-"

    "Don't Agatha me, Tasha." Ms. Sanders replied, her face red with anger. "This is an Orphanage. We give all of our kids equal opportunities to learn and grow here. We don't exclude any children, or pick favorites. Especially if those kids have known relatives in political groups that we disagree with."

    "Y'know he threatened me?"

    "He's well within his right." Ms. Sanders continued. "You may have disagreed with my decision five years ago, but may I remind you that I'm the one personally funding this Orphanage? I have priority say over all aspects of the Orphanage."

    "I'm liable to sue-"

    "You're also liable to be fired for endorsing and participating in childhood harassment." Ms. Sanders replied. "We'll discuss this later. I'm taking the night shift tonight. Go home for the day."

    Ms. Lowry sighed, passing by Ms. Sanders and out of the building. Ms. Sanders sighed once more, brushing a platinum strand of hair out of her eyes. Her eyes settled on Blaine, who happily munched away on the slice of cake in front of him. Her eyes brightened, as she smiled.

    Walking over to him, she took note of the mess on the floor.

    "Charlie, get me some paper towels and a trash bag, please."

    Charlie grumbled, leaving the room to the adjacent store room. Ms. Sanders sat beside Blaine, smiling as she placed a hand on his shoulder.

    "I see Mr. Harlowe brought you a cake. How nice!" Ms. Sanders smiled endearingly. "Happy Birthday Blaine."

    "Thank you!" Blaine beamed, before digging back into the cake.

    Blaine always liked Ms. Sanders, not just because she always took care of him. She was just so nice to everyone else, she was stern when the other kids had to be punished, but she always made it into a lesson.

    "Did you thank Mr. Harlowe?" Ms. Sanders asked, as Blaine paused.

    In that time, after everything had happened, he had forgotten to thank the man for his cake. Shuffling his feet, Blaine instantly felt bad about eating the cake.

    "No. I'm sorry." Blaine said. "Mr. Harlowe visited after I threw up."

    "Mr. Harlowe and Ms. Lowry argued for a bit, and then he gave me the cake." Blaine continued. "He told me to blow out the candles and make a wish. Then he hugged me."

    "I see." Ms. Sanders smiled. "Just remember to thank him when you see him again."

    "I will." Blaine nodded, turning to the cake.

    "It's okay, he won't be mad at you." Ms. Sanders rubbed his back. "He bought it for you, after all."

    With her permission, he continued to eat the cake. Charlie opened the door behind them, bringing in a single trash bag and paper towels.

    "I'll also need a pair of gloves, please."

    Charlie grunted, throwing the paper towel and trash bag onto the floor. Blaine still didn't know why Charlie disliked him so much, he was never mean to anyone. In fact, he always used to offer parts of his snacks to everyone in the room, in order to make friends.

    "So, what did you wish for?" Ms. Sanders asked, Blaine turning to her.

    "I wished to see my parents one day." Blaine said. "I felt bad, I made Mr. Harlowe really sad. I should have apologized."

    "No kiddo." Ms. Sanders said, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "It's not your fault, sweetie. You'll see them one day, I promise."

    Removing herself from Blaine, Ms. Sanders picked up the paper towels and bag off of the floor. Charlie returned with her gloves, so she put them on. With a silent wave of her hand, Charlie returned to the time out corner, glaring at Blaine as he passed.

    When Blaine finished his cake, he took the plate and his fork over to Ms. Sanders, placing them inside of the bag. He offered to help her clean up his mess, but she shook her head with a smile.

    "Thank you, Blaine." Ms. Sanders chuckled. "I'm almost done though. Why don't you go play with the others? It's almost dinner time, so play while you still can."

    Blaine turned back to the center of the room. Kids around his age played with all sorts of plastic toys, such as dinosaurs, action figures, and toy cars. By the looks of things, most of the good toys had been taken by the other kids.

    Not being one to intrude, Blaine instead returned to his table. Ms. Sanders watched as he went. Sitting in his designated chair, Blaine put his head in his hands, looking out the window at the evening sky. Being in the middle of the City, the Orphanage couldn't install a playground for the kids, as it was very unsafe for the kids to be unsupervised near the street.

    "You can come play with me, if you want." Lucy said, standing next to Blaine. "We could play Doctor Dinosaur or something?"

    Blaine turned to her, as she held out a Tyrannosaurus Rex to him. In her other hand was an action figure of a man in a white coat. Gently taking the T-Rex from her hand, he looked over the menacing looking creature.

    "Did you know the T-Rex was the king of the dinosaurs?" Lucy asked him, as he looked back at her. "I read that in a book once. They eat meat, like us."

    Blaine smiled, placing the toy on the table in front of him, imitating what he thought was it's walk.

    "Rawr!" Blaine exclaimed.

    Ms. Sanders watched from her desk, having finished cleaning the mess. In her haste to send Ms. Lowry home, she had forgotten to start dinner, so she opted to order some pizza. She figured it would be a nice treat, especially considering it was Blaine's birthday.

    "So, um." Lucy said, stopping their game. "Happy Birthday, Blaine."

    "Thank you." Blaine said, as she hugged him.

    "You're my new best friend." she said, as he stared blankly at Ms. Sanders.

    Caving in, Blaine wrapped his arms around her. She was his first friend, and he couldn't have been happier.



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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 12:39 am

    Author's Note: I just saw your post Manny after posting the latest installment. I'll admit that I had a similar thought when I sat down to write the first installment to this.

    Blaine in my old works was very much like a goofball Batman. My goal isn't change him entirely. My goal is to humanize him a bit more. Some of the stuff he went through in my old writing should have broken him entirely. Though he walked right through everything with no hesitation.

    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the occasional reckless, headstrong character. I just feel like he became too much like Superman, and not enough like Clark Kent. A Hero is fine and all, a God is not.

    Thank you for reading. Be prepared, this post will be followed by another installment or two. Got some good tunes on, and I'm super stoked about what's about to come next.



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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 3:38 am

    Several months had passed since Mr. Harlowe had visited. Ms. Sanders had met with Ms. Lowry on numerous occasions about her future with the Orphanage, before swapping their duties. Sanders would watch the kids during playtime, and teach them during classtime. Lowry, on the other hand, was charged with going out on the town for essentials, and to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    With Ms. Sanders in charge during playtime, Blaine wasn't harassed by Charlie or his friends as much. As a result, Lyle and Adam had been adopted. Blaine wasn't quite sure why that was, but he didn't complain. Of course, Charlie seemed to have an effect on the rotten eggs in the place, recruiting some other friends of his to join him in his secretive torment towards Blaine.

    Robert and Zach were their names, just as mean spirited and angry towards Blaine as Adam and Lyle. In that same time, Lucy continued to play with Blaine every single day. It was generally the same game, Doctor Dinosaur.

    Ms. Sanders had told Blaine that Mr. Harlowe would be coming to visit again within the week. Excited couldn't even describe Blaine in that moment. Mr. Harlowe was a very nice man, and even though his visits were few and far between, he always talked with Blaine. Part of Blaine was hoping that Mr. Harlowe was coming to adopt him.

    "Tasha?" Ms. Sanders asked, using the tablet in her hands. "I need you in charge of playtime today. My mother isn't doing well, and I need to be there."

    "Fine. I'm headed in the door now." Ms. Lowry said, as the front door opened.

    Blaine had overheard what Ms. Sanders said, his eyes widening with fright. Charlie seemed to grin devilishly in the corner, as Ms. Sanders hurried out the front door. Lucy turned to Blaine, smiling warmly.

    "They won't bother you if I'm-"

    "You." Lowry pointed towards Lucy. "Timeout corner."

    "She hasn't done anything wrong." Blaine said. "We've been playing Doctor Dinosau-"

    "Shut up, mutt." Lowry growled. "The old rules are back in effect. Lucy, corner, now."

    When Lucy refused to leave, Lowry grabbed her by the ear, dragging her across the room to the punishment corner. Walking up to Blaine again, she smacked her hand across his cheek, pointing at him.

    "Know your place, UNSC scum." she warned, sitting at the desk again. "Anyone that isn't Charlie that visits Blaine is going hungry tonight."

    The other kids all nodded solemnly, as Charlie, Zach, and Robert made their move towards him. Other kids tried to stop them, as Lowry gave the kids a chilling glare.

    "Isn't this a sad sight?!" Charlie growled, thrusting his fist into Blaine's face. "Y'know, I overheard Ms. Sanders and Ms. Lowry talking about Mr. Harlowe."

    "Tell him, Charlie!" Robert grinned.

    "Mr. Harlowe's your dad, kid." Charlie growled, Blaine's eyes widening. "He left you here when you were just a baby!"

    The room that was in earshot all turned at the statement, minus Ms. Lowry, who shrugged. She hated him anyways, so why should she care if he knew the truth.

    "That's not true!" Blaine protested. "Mr. Harlowe is nice to me, if he left me here, why would he be so nice?"

    "Your dad didn't love you, Blainey boy." the ten year old sneered at him. "He left you here like the rest of us. I heard he's just checking to make sure that you finally died!"

    "Stop!" Lucy yelled, running over. "That isn't true! Mr. Harlowe loves Blaine! He's coming to adopt him!"

    "No he isn't!" Charlie growled, turning to her. "I heard it myself. He's not wanted by anyone! Nobody likes him! Not even Ms. Sanders! She just pretends to so he doesn't feel bad about the truth!"

    "Ms. Sanders loves Blaine, and so does Mr. Harlowe!" Lucy yelled. "Just leave him alone for once!"

    Zach turned and smacked her across the cheek, sending her to the floor. Robert, who had Blaine's shoulders pinned, chuckled.

    "Sounds like Lucy likes the tool!"

    Charlie nodded, before stomping his foot down on Blaine's chest. Blaine groaned, tears flowing out of his eyes from both the pain, and the words he was hearing. Was it true? Did Mr. Harlowe really want him dead? Was Mr. Harlowe really his dad?

    "You two gonna kiss, kid?" Charlie squared his shoulders. "Maybe I like Lucy? You wanna take my girl, Blainey boy?"

    "No." Blaine whimpered quietly, as Charlie pushed harder on his chest.

    "I can't hear you!"


    "Good." Charlie stood, as Robert and Zach began to stand once more.

    "Hold on, Charlie." Ms. Lowry piped in, standing. "We're going to play a new game today; King of the Hill."

    The three boys looked among each other, having never heard of the game. In the corner, Blaine could see Brent's eyes widen. Shakily, Blaine returned to his seat, folding his hands over his chest. Ms. Lowry grabbed Lucy by her hair, pulling her across the carpeted floor to the timeout seat once more.

    "How do we play?" Charlie asked.

    "You and your team capture the Hill." Lowry said, pointing to Blaine's table. "Anyone that isn't on your team is to be removed from the Hill, by any means necessary. You win when no-one goes for your Hill."

    "Why are you so mean to him?!" Lucy yelled from the stool. "He doesn't hurt anyone, and he isn't mean to anyone!"

    "Fine." Lowry said. "I'll give Blaine a chance. If he can win against Charlie, Robert, and Zach, I'll stop being mean to him. Just know, boys, Blaine's a master at King of the Hill. So don't go easy on him."

    "Wait." Brent said from the corner, walking to Blaine's side. "I'm on Blaine's team."

    "Blaine doesn't have a team." Lowry said. "That's the rule."

    "Fine, I'll play too." Brent said. "Sorry Blaine."

    Blaine's heart thumped in his chest as the four boys approached. Before he could flinch, however, Brent tackled Zach to the floor. Charlie ignored Zach's predicament, however, as he approached Blaine. Robert charged in, pushing Blaine off of the chair and holding him to the floor.

    Thrusting fist after fist into Blaine's face, Charlie took to kicking Blaine's ribs while he was down. Lucy continued to scream in protest in the corner, when Lowry walked over to her, slapping her harshly across the face.

    "Shut up!" Lowry growled. "Or you're next!"

    Blaine's heart pounded even harder, his only friend didn't deserve the same treatment that he was getting. Rolling to his right, Robert wasn't expecting the resistance, and fell face first to the carpet. Charlie overswung his follow up kick, striking Robert in the side of his neck.

    Quickly standing to his feet, Blaine stood there, staring at Charlie. Mr. Harlowe had been right, Blaine needed to stand up for himself more. Even if what Charlie said was true, the advice Mr. Harlowe had given him had stuck to him.

    Clenching his fists, Blaine waited for Charlie to move towards him. Charlie growled, charging Blaine. Tackling Charlie to the ground, Blaine yelled as he unleashed years of torment and anger out on Charlie's face.

    Pulling on Charlie's collar, Blaine struck a nasty punch into Charlie's right cheek. Ms. Lowry noticed this, and made an advance for Blaine himself. Blaine's eyes fell to the chair she had subjected him to. Grabbing it, fueled by his rage, he lifted the chair, swinging it at her face.

    The plastic seat struck her in the face, knocking her to the floor. Blaine stood, as Brent and Robert struggled to overpower one another. Charlie had been knocked unconscious, while Zach stood, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth.

    "You think your something, huh?" Zach scoffed. "At least you HAVE a dad!"

    Growling, Zach charged at Blaine, tackling him to the floor. The two rolled along the ground for some time, ending up behind the desk. Blaine managed to get the upper hand, planting both of his knees on Zach's chest.

    Wrapping his hands around Zach's neck, Blaine squeezed. Zach's eyes widened, staring into Blaine's. Zach's hands went for Blaine's neck, but he couldn't quite reach him. Blaine grit his teeth, pushing even further down on Zach's neck. He had been so angry, he didn't notice that Zach's face was changing colors.

    Blaine watched as Zach's eyes rolled to the back of his head, and he stopped moving. Content that Zach wasn't going to attack him again, Blaine stood. Over his right shoulder, he heard Ms. Lowry begin to stand.

    "Oh my god." she stammered, as Blaine balled both of his hands into a fist. "You little DEVIL!"

    Turning on his feet, Blaine charged the woman. The other kids who had supported Blaine, but never spoken up cheered as he tackled her to the floor. Stunned from the sudden outburst, Ms. Lowry was helpless, as Blaine struck fist after fist into her face.

    Each punch only made his rage build further, each punch stronger than the last. She looked up to him with horrified green eyes, as he leaned down, biting her on the neck. She screamed as his teeth broke her skin. The teens that had cheered for him came over, restraining her arms and legs while Blaine withdrew.

    Looking over Ms. Lowry's face, Blaine looked down at his right fist. Blood trickled from the scrapes he had endured. Looking down at her again, he struck one last punch across her face. Like Charlie had done to him in the past, he spat on her forehead, before standing.

    Lucy ran over to him, wrapping her arms around him. She cried into his shoulder, as he stared blankly at the door opposite of him.

    "It's okay Blaine. You're a good guy." Lucy said. "Just please, no more."

    "Thank you." Blaine smiled, returning the hug. "I have to go find Mr. Harlowe."

    Lucy removed herself, dumbfounded, she backed away.

    "If he is my dad, I want to find him." Blaine continued, nursing his hand. "Are we still friends?"

    Lucy didn't speak, nodding her head silently. Blaine turned to the door. He was just tall enough to reach the handle. Jostling it open, he ventured out into the open. He knew the teens would follow him, so he hid behind the nearby dumpster for a while. When they returned inside, he sprinted down the street, never once looking back.

    After running for some time, Blaine was completely out of breath. In front of him, a lonely red maple tree stood. Sighing, he moved to the tree. Running his hand along the scaly bark of the tree, Blaine grunted as he tried to scale one of the lower hanging branches.

    When he finally reached it, he hopped for the next one. Climbing higher and higher into the tree. The foliage in the tree was dense enough, making him harder and harder to spot the higher he got. He found one nook within the tree the could fit him, and keep him secure. Sitting on the nook, Blaine looked at the scratches on his hands.

    They were small little things, and though they hurt, he couldn't help but feel relieved. Sure, he would miss Lucy, but he knew that once he found Mr. Harlowe, if he ever did, that he could always ask to visit her.

    A brisk wind rustled through the leaves around him, as his eyes became heavy with exhaustion. Lazing back against the nook, Blaine closed his eyes, and fell asleep.

    Last edited by Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 3:42 am; edited 2 times in total



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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 3:40 am

    Ms. Sanders stormed into the front door, a look of fright covering her face. She knew she was taking a major risk not taking Blaine with her, but she also knew that her mother was dying, and it was the last thing she wanted the poor boy to see.

    In front of her, the teens were held aside with Brent and Lucy, a lone policeman talking with them. Ms. Sander's heart sank as a gurney with a body bag passed her. Ms. Lowry sat at her desk, bruises and blood adorning her face

    "Wait!" Ms. Sanders asked the paramedics. "Whose in that bag?"

    "A little boy. Seriously messed up shit, ma'am." he replied. "I'm not at liberty to offer his name."

    "Please, I know these kids!"

    The man sighed, pulling the zipper on the bag down. Zach's face stuck out through it. Saliva had foamed at his mouth, and his eyes stared back up at her with a mixture of surprise and fright. Covering her mouth with her hand, tears began to well up in her eyes.

    Gazing around the room, she searched for Blaine, but couldn't see him anywhere. The police officer talking to Tasha turned to her, beckoning her over.

    "You Agatha Sanders?" he asked, as she approached.

    "Yes, officer." Agatha nodded shyly. "What's happened here?"

    "You mean you don't know?" the officer asked. "Ms. Lowry claims that you are the main proprietor of this establishment?"

    "I pay for the upkeep and supplies, so I get more of a say when it comes to decisions regarding the weekly schedule." Agatha nodded. "In short, yes. Though I Ms. Lowry is paid to be my assistant. She's just as much responsible for what goes on here as I am."

    "Please, sir. What happened?" Agatha continued, as the policeman rubbed the back of his neck.

    "She says one of your boys went ballistic, killed one kid, and assaulted her." the police officer said. "Goes by the name of Blaine?"

    "No." Agatha shook her head, tears running down her cheeks. "Blaine wouldn't do anything like that. He's a sweet boy! Even if he is guilty of what happened here, it's because he was backed into a corner."

    "Are you implying the boy is mentally insecure?"

    "I'm saying that Tasha and her children were responsible for the condition he was in. They harassed him to no end, and no matter how much I disciplined them, it continued. I've talked to Tasha on this numerous times prior to now."

    "Yet you allowed her and the children to continue interactions with him?" the officer asked.

    "I have no words in regards to Tasha." Agatha glared at her assistant. "She's more of a child than the children that we've raised here. As for the boys that also harassed Blaine, what was I to do? Send them out into the streets? This is an establishment of learning and growth, officer. They just needed more time."

    The door opened behind her, as she heard several boots clomp into the room. She flinched, knowing full well that Mr. Harlowe was on his way to pick up Blaine. He had pulled some strings, and would be taking Blaine to the military camp with him. He had found extended family to take care of him when he was on a tour of duty.

    "Chief, I tried to stop them." the officer that had been standing outside said. "They stated they were UNSC, sir."

    "I see. Ms. Sanders, Ms. Lowry, I'll be questioning the kids involved next. Stay put." the officer said, before walking past her.

    Agatha turned slowly to face the newcomers, the Chief of police walking up to them.

    "What's so important that you needed to interrupt a police investigation?" the Chief asked.

    "It's classified." Morgan Harlowe snarled. "If you have an issue with it, you can send a detailed report to Colonel Hackett at Visegrad. Though, with your record, you might want to stay out of contact with the UNSC from now on."

    "Er- yes sir." the Chief nodded, turning his attention next to the Officer who had questioned the kids.

    Agatha gingerly rubbed her right arm, refusing to meet Morgan's gaze as he stomped towards them. One of his squad reached out and grabbed his shoulder.

    "Scotch, I know you're pissed about Iceman and everything. Just, don't do anything that will make you regret it later, okay?"

    Morgan shrugged the hand off, closing the distance between him and Agatha/Tasha.

    "What the hell happened here?!" Morgan roared in Agatha's face here. "You knew damn well that I was coming today or tomorrow!"

    "I'm sorry, Mr. Harlowe." Agatha said, tears streaming down her face. "I had a family emergency to attend to, everything that happened up till-"

    "I saw a kid sized body bag going into that ambulance. If I search this room and don't find Blaine, we're going to have some choice words!"'

    Morgan turned to walk towards the group of isolated kids, as Agatha silently sobbed into her hand.

    "It's not your son." Tasha said from behind Agatha. "That little bastard flew the coop."

    Morgan paused, turning towards her. Walking up to her, he shook his head.

    "Repeat? I didn't hear you."

    "Your little shit killed that kid, and then he ran. Guess being a murderer runs in the family."

    Morgan smirked for a moment, eyes glancing towards the floor. With a nod of his face, his right fist appeared out of seemingly no-where, smashing her across her cheek. The force of the punch sent her to the table where he and Blaine had eaten cake not even a few months before.

    Stomping towards her, he reached down and grabbed her by the neck. The Police in the room tensed, as the ODSTs behind him raised their rifles.

    "Don't interfere." one of the ODSTs warned. "This is official UNSC business. We won't let him kill her. You have my word."

    Slamming her up against the wall, he pressed his face right to hers, locking her forehead with hers. His eyes stared into her brown eyes like a tiger peering through the brush at it's prey.

    "Hehe, of course your type would hit a girl." Tasha sneered.

    Turning on his boots, he whipped her back at the table.

    "I'll have you know that I actually have a stance against hitting women." Morgan stomped towards her, cracking his knuckles. "That excludes Insurrectionist cunts like yourself."

    Stomping towards her, she started to make for the door, as one of the ODSTs grabbed her by the shoulder, pulling her back in.

    "Going somewhere lady?" Craig sneered at her, before pulling her in close. "That's my nephew you're talking about."

    Tasha fell to the floor, crawling away. Morgan pulled her back up, before slamming her butt down into a chair.

    "We can play this game all night." Morgan said. "You're going to tell me what happened here, and I'm not going to have to break each of your dainty little fingers."

    "Craig." Morgan turned to him. "Please escort the Police and the children outside. I wouldn't want to make any more of a scene for the kids."

    Craig nodded, before beckoning everyone outside. The Chief ordered his men to pull out, the children following in suit. With the ODSTs out, Agatha began to slink towards the door.

    "You stay here." she heard Morgan say from her right. "You claim to know nothing about what happened here, so let's find out together, shall we?"

    Agatha nervously walked over, before taking a seat on his opposite side.

    "As you know, Ms. Sanders. I came here five years ago with my son, on the day of his birth, looking for a temporary home for him." Morgan turned to her. "If you also recall, I had lost my wife that mornin' too."

    "Yes sir." Agatha nodded.

    "I came here and placed my trust in you and your staff." Morgan said, eyes never leaving Tasha. "You and I both made the agreement to keep him off of the adoption list until I could get things situated so I could juggle my career and time to be with him."

    "Yes." Agatha began to cry.

    "If you are sincere about not knowing anything about what happened today, I need a damn good explanation as to why you weren't here."

    "My adoptive mother was on her death bed, Mr. Harlowe." Agatha began to cry. "I thought to bring Blaine with me, but I was certain I would only be gone for an hour, and the last thing I wanted him to see was my mother dying."

    "I'm sorry for your loss. I had to do the same thing with me own mother, couple of years before Blaine was born." Morgan nodded, before turning to Tasha. "That's where you come in."

    "I want my lawyer." Tasha said, as Morgan's pistol crashed down on her right hand middle finger.

    "As I see it, Ms. Sanders is your lawyer right now." Morgan continued. "What happened today?"

    "I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when a couple of the boys approached your son."

    "The same boys that made my boy puke last time?" Morgan asked, as Tasha remained silent.

    Before he could thrust down, Agatha stopped him.

    "Wait." Agatha said. "If I know anything about the situation, it was definitely Charlie's doing. The other two boys are new to the Orphanage. So they weren't the same."

    "I see." Morgan nodded. "Alright, so Ms. Sanders said it was the same delinquent and his new gang. If you knew he was a problem child, why didn't you step in?"

    "Who said I didn't?"

    Morgan smashed the butt of the pistol down on her index finger, shattering the knuckle entirely.

    "I see you've got a nice bite-mark on your neck." Morgan mused, flicking his eyes to it. "My boy do that?"

    With her silence, Morgan proceeded to break another finger. Tasha bit her lip, drawing blood as she tried to restrain her pain.

    "I've interrogated way tougher Innies than you, lassie." Morgan sneered, staring her in the eyes. "You're eyes are a dead giveaway. Now, why didn't you step in?"

    "I was tired from a days worth of errands. Forgive me if I wanted-"


    "AUUUUUGH!" Tasha screamed, attempting to nurse her hand.

    "I see you're not willing to cooperate." Morgan shook his head. "I hear that you and Colonel Hackett have some history together. You can answer these questions to him later, while you're begging for a clean start."

    Pulling her arms behind her, he produced a restraint from his satchel, tossing her to the floor. Whistling, the ODSTs, children, and Police returned into the room. The Chief stepped forward immediately, a small blonde girl standing beside him.

    "May we continue our investigation?" the Chief asked. "We won't impede on the UNSC's work."

    "Yeah." Morgan snorted. "We're taking this one with us. She's wanted with the UNSC anyways, so if its proven that she's guilty, the UNSC will gladly do you guys a favor."

    Craig walked over, grabbing the woman by the hand restraint and helping her to her feet. The other ODSTs escorted her out the door, as Blaine approached the Officer. Pulling out a pen and pad of paper, Morgan scribbled something down, before passing it to him.

    "That's my personal Waypoint info. If you find my son, Blaine, call me immediately."

    "Will do." the Chief said. "For what it's worth, soldier. I'm sorry this happened."

    "Wasn't your job to watch these kids." Morgan sighed. "Sorry for stopping you from doing your job."

    "Hey, I'd be in a similar boat as you if I went through what you're going through." the Chief replied. "Though, try not to make it a habit, yeah? We'll find your boy."

    Morgan nodded, before walking for the exit. Before he could leave, however, he felt a slight tug on his pants. Looking down, the blonde girl looked up to him with teary eyes.

    "Mr. Harlowe? You love your son, don't you?" she asked.

    Kneeling down to her level, he placed his hand over hers.

    "With all my heart, kiddo." Morgan said. "Do you know what happened here today?"

    "The boys and Ms. Lowry were being mean to Blaine. He really hurt Zach. They-they put Zach in the bag."

    "I see." Morgan frowned, rubbing her cheek with his thumb. "Thank you for your help."

    "Wait." the girl stopped him, as he nodded. "Charlie and the others said that Ms. Lowry said that you said you didn't love Blaine anymore?"

    "Ms. Lowry is a liar. She's a bad woman, and now she's going to be punished for it." Morgan said. "I love Blaine very much, and I was actually coming to take him home with me. Do you know where he might have gone?"

    "Blaine said he was going out to look for you, Mr. Harlowe." the girl cried. "He said he wanted to see if it was true or not."

    Morgan's eyes widened, he knew Blaine had left, considering how he wasn't with the group. He knew the cops would have searched the building for anyone missing first. If Blaine was still out in the heart of the City, he was definitely in trouble. Anyone could have nabbed him.

    "Officer, please! You need to get a search team out there!" Morgan stood suddenly. "He's loose in the City!"

    "I'll do what I can for now. We won't be able to officially start until morning." the Chief replied. "I'll keep the patrols on a lookout though, does anyone have an image of him?"

    "I do." Agatha spoke up, handing him a photograph of Blaine. "I took this with him a month ago."

    "Thank you." the Chief said. "I'll run it through the system when I get back. For now, I need to investigate here further."


    Sunlight filtered through the leaves of the tree. A chilling morning breeze rustled through the trees, causing Blaine to shiver. He hadn't realized it immediately, but he had slept the entire night away in the tree.

    He had no inclination of returning to the Orphanage, especially because he knew Ms. Sanders would be mad at him. Instead, he began the unsteady climb out of the tree. Jumping from the last branch down, Blaine grunted as his stomach growled.

    He hadn't eaten supper the night before, and it was well past breakfast time now. Smacking his lips, he could see some people sitting at tables not to far from him. There was food on their plates. Approaching them, Blaine saw a man and a woman sitting at the nearest table. The man had a newspaper in his hands, eyes planted firmly on the front cover.

    "Jesus Christ." the man stated, shaking his head in disbelief.

    Blaine couldn't read the paper, and the only image on the article was so small that he couldn't really see it.

    "One kid dead, one kid missing." the man reported. "What is this world coming to?"

    "History tends to repeat itself, Jacob." the woman replied in a very relaxed voice. "These things happen, for the stupidest of reasons."

    "Catherine, we're talking about-" the man stopped, as he felt a tug on his pant leg.

    "Excuse me sir." Blaine said, looking up at the man's square face.

    A pair of stern blue eyes met with him, as the man waited for what he had to say.

    "I'm very hungry. May I have something to eat?"

    The woman sitting beside the man turned to the newspaper in the man's hand. Clutching it suddenly, Blaine was distracted by her movements. Her eyes scanned over the article once, before turning her eyes to him.

    "My, you're so polite." she smiled, before pulling a warm pastry off of her plate and handing it to him. "What's your name?"

    "Blaine." Blaine smiled, biting down on the apple tart.

    "Where are your parents?"

    "I don't know. Ms. Sanders said that Mr. Harlowe is my dad. He knows UNSC, but Ms. Lowry didn't like me for that."

    "Oh, your dad is in the UNSC?" she asked. "Search for a Mr. Harlowe, would you Jacob?"

    "Are you serious?" Jacob shook his head. "I thought this was our day off?"

    "This boy is looking for his father." she glared at him. "Find him."

    Sighing, the man pulled a tablet out of his jacket, before swiping his hand across it. Glancing up and down the picture, Blaine easily recognized the man staring back at Jacob.

    "That's him!"

    "Warrant Officer 2nd Grade, Morgan Angus Harlowe. 21st ODST Division." Jacob reported. "Apparently he works for ONI under the SCORE initiative."

    "SCORE?" Catherine asked from behind Blaine. "ORION's remnants. ONI's personal task force."

    "Do you know where he lives?" Blaine asked.

    "No, I'm sorry." Jacob shook his head. "Your dad is a very busy man."

    Catherine pulled another pastry from her plate, handing it to Blaine, before crouching to his level.

    "I know people that know your dad, Blaine." she smiled, her soft blue eyes locked onto his. "I can take you to them, if you want."

    "Ms. Sanders said not to go with strangers." Blaine began to back away.

    "My name is Catherine Halsey. This is Jacob Keyes. We're both UNSC too. We can bring you to your dad."

    "I-I don't know." Blaine stammered, beginning to walk away.

    "Would Ms. Sanders want you walking alone in the City all by yourself?" Catherine asked, as Blaine stopped.

    "No." Blaine said.

    "We can contact your father. You only need to come with us so we can hold you until he gets there." Catherine replied softly. "If you walk off, how would we know where to send him?"

    Blaine paused for a moment to think about it. His dad was a nice man, and if he was with the UNSC, and these two were with the UNSC. That meant they had to be nice people too, right? Turning his gaze to Catherine, she smiled, holding out her hand.

    "Okay." Blaine nodded, taking her hand.

    "Smart too." Catherine smiled. "Jacob, call for the Pelican. We're headed to CASTLE."



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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 4:50 pm

    Blaine had never been in one of these Pelican things before. Catherine and Jacob had helped him up into the elevated platform. Blaine stared in amazement, seats lining the inner walls. There were even handles above the seats too, of course, they were much too high for him to reach.

    Turning back to the opening, Blaine watched as Jacob helped Catherine in. The man hoisted himself up into the troop bay, tapping the side of the vehicle. Catherine walked up to Blaine, helping him into a seat. Sitting beside him, she smiled warmly, just as the engines roared to life. Blaine covered his ears at the insanely loud roar of the machine, his weight shifting while the machine soared into the air.

    Jacob opted to stand, staring out over the City. Blaine couldn't help but stare either. It was nearing fall in New Alexandria, and the mixture of leaves in the trees had a very warm feeling to them. It accentuated the white walls of the futuristic city, using the morning sun to further improve the sight.

    "Ever been in a Pelican before?" Catherine asked, as Blaine silently shook his head. "You'll get used to it!"

    As the City got further and further away, Blaine felt a twang of sorrow in his heart. He had figured the Castle that Ms. Halsey had mentioned was within the City itself. If Mr. Harlowe was in the City, how would he find Blaine?

    He also wondered if Lucy was in trouble because of him, and part of him wanted to go back to make sure. With a shake of his head, a single tear rolled down his right cheek, as he turned away. Looking out the back of the Pelican once more, Blaine could see a rocky pass, where several different trees sprawled out in seemingly endless fashion. Snow covered the tops of the pine trees.

    Blaine had actually never seen snow in real life, only in the occasional book that he and Ms. Sanders looked over. At the sight of the fluffy white blanket, Blaine's mood instantly cheered right up. The Pelican began to slow down, unsettling Blaine's stomach.

    As it slowed, it began to turn around. Blaine watched as the landscape  turned from a valley of snowy trees to an oddly shaped mountain. Menachite Mountain, known for it's duo-peaks, appeared to have a giant gash running through the middle of what should have been a singular peak, giving the appearance of two different peaks.

    Blaine stood from his seat, Catherine attempting to stop him. Walking unsteadily towards Jacob, Blaine peered out at the Mountain. Jacob wrapped his hand around Blaine's to prevent him from falling out, as the machine slowly lowered towards a concealed cavern.

    It was dark inside of the cavern for only a moment, before lights flickered on. Blaine covered his eyes from the sudden brightness, a lone landing pad was all that he could make out, save the few adults stomping around in similar clothes to what Mr. Harlowe had been wearing a few months back.

    With a sudden jolt, the machine touched down on the landing pad. The engines quieted. Catherine gently took Blaine's hand, leading him off of the Pelican. Behind them, the Pelican started up again, as Blaine turned to watch.

    Jacob gave a curt nod of his head, before walking back into the Pelican. It began to ascend, Blaine waving as it took off. Two metallic doors opened at the mouth of the cavern, the Pelican disappearing into the outside world.

    "I'm sorry to tell you Blaine, it's going to be an awful long while before we can get you to your Dad." Catherine said. "I'll work on getting in touch with him, so you'll have to stay here for a while. Don't worry though, there are other kids here that I'm sure you'll get along just fine with."

    Blaine frowned at the idea of not being able to see Mr. Harlowe immediately, but he didn't want to be rude to her. After all, she had been very nice to him and he didn't want to make her upset. He followed her through the following door, which lead to a large hallway.

    Just as they were rounding a corner, a man in similar metallic clothes to the others stopped himself from crashing into them. His hair had been buzzed down on the top of his head, a strange squarish cap on his head. Blaine could read the letters UNSC, however, so he knew this had to be a good man.

    "Doctor Halsey." the man saluted. "I was just looking for you, ma'am."

    "CPO Mendez." Halsey issued a curt nod. "What's the issue?"

    "There was no issue ma'am. I was just sent to inform you that the training course has been officially completed and will be ready for use by this time tomorrow morning." Mendez replied.

    "Excellent news." Halsey smiled. "Blaine, be a dear and head down that hallway there. The other kids will be waiting for you there."

    Blaine smiled before working his way down the lengthy hallway. When he was certain Blaine was out of earshot, Mendez spoke up.

    "Ma'am? I thought you had all of your subjects?"

    "Science always has room for more variables, Mr. Mendez." Catherine smirked, a flicker in her eyes. "I see great promise in that one. Do keep an eye on him."

    "Any particular reason, ma'am?"

    "He killed a kid yesterday, and terribly maimed his caretaker." Halsey said. "Not to be entirely unforeseen, his father and mother were both subjects in Project ORION."

    "He's a Spartan 1.1?" Mendez shook his head. "Alright, I'll keep an eyes out, ma'am. Thanks for the tip."

    "Try to make him feel welcome for the rest of the day." Halsey began. "We begin ORION Project, Generation II."

    "His number, ma'am?" Mendez asked, producing a notepad from his pocket.

    "One-one-five." Halsey replied.


    "Wake up buttercup, nap-time's over." Mendez shook Blaine awake.

    Blaine yawned, before rolling over in his bed. Mendez ripped the blankets off of Blaine, who remained completely immobile from his bed.

    "This isn't how things are going to work around here, maggot." Mendez growled, one of his trainers preparing an electric baton.

    The soldier pressed the metallic prod into the small of Blaine's back. With a yelp, Blaine's muscles spasmed, and he crashed to the floor.

    "Let one-one-five serve as a lesson to you kids!" Mendez barked throughout the room. "From this day forward, you are in MY house. You will follow my rules, and I will NOT be ignored."

    "Let's get one thing straight, here and now. I am to be your instructor and mentor in our time together. I will not coddle you, I will not hold your hand, I will not be a nice man to you."

    "If you respect me, I will in turn respect you. That is the way of the world." Mendez paced around Blaine's bed, glaring down at him. "Stand, one-one-five."

    Blaine looked around, confused. Mendez had been so nice to him yesterday, and he called him Blaine then. Who was this one-one-five? Those were numbers, not his name. Mendez reached out for the soldier's baton again, electricity sparking from the tip. Blaine's eyes widened, as he quickly stood.

    "Very good, one-one-five." Mendez nodded. "Keep those listening ears on, and you and I may just get along, recruit."

    "Now listen up, all of you!" Mendez paced up the aisle, kids of all different shapes and sizes standing, like Blaine, beside their beds. "You will from this point on be referred to by the number given to you. Blaine here, is recruit one-one-five. You would be wise to remember that number."

    "What's my number, mister?" one kid asked, at the bed to Blaine's left.

    Mendez turned to the boy, his penetrating eyes glaring at the boy. Sparking the baton, he shoved it into the boy's chest.

    "Recruit zero-five-two brings up a good point. At the foot of your bed, engraved on the bed is your number. While he was wise to ask a legitimate question, when you are to address me, you will speak with respect and authority."

    "For oh-five-two's question, you would word it; Sir, what is my number, sir?" Mendez folded his arms behind himself, before pacing again. "In other instances, you would ask my permission to speak. You will not speak until spoken to, and if you really must ask me a question that doesn't pertain to the topic at hand, you must ask permission to speak freely."

    "Recruit oh-seven-six, ask me permission to speak."

    "Uh. Sir, permission to speak?" a girl, two beds over from Blaine, asked.

    "A good attempt." Mendez nodded. "You forgot to end the sentence with sir, however. You would also want to speak a little louder, recruit. Next time I call upon you, I expect you to use your voice, or I'll have you shocked, am I understood?"

    "Yes sir." she said quietly, as the baton struck her midsection.

    "Sir, yes sir!" he yelled, as she screamed. "You will speak loudly and clearly, so that your fellow recruits and I can hear you. Failure to do so will be punishable."

    "My name is CPO Mendez, recruits." Mendez continued. "You will refer to me as CPO Mendez, sir, or squad leader. Am I understood?!"

    "Sir yes sir!" the kids yelled, fearful of being struck by the batons.

    "Good, some progress." Mendez said. "You will make your beds properly, when you have finished, you will stand at the foot of your bed, forming two single file lines. Then, you will follow me. Doctor Halsey would like to speak with you."

    Blaine turned to the bed beside him. His blankets had been ripped off by Mendez, walking around the side of the bed, he picked the sheets and blanket off of the floor. Tucking the corners in, he ran his hand along the blanket to smooth any creases he found.

    Mendez stood at the foot of his bed, nodding his head approvingly. Ms. Sanders had taught Blaine how to make his bed during his time at the Orphanage, and it seemed to stick with him. As Mendez instructed, Blaine stood at the foot of his bed.

    "You made that look easy, recruit." Mendez said. "Well done. Now, stand at attention."

    Blaine gave the man a confused look, he didn't know what that meant.

    "Sir, what does that mean, sir?" Blaine asked.

    "Flatten your right hand, like so." Mendez said, keeping his right hand stiff and rigid, hiding his thumb behind his index finger. "Then quickly bring it to your right eyebrow. Straighten your back, and keep your left arm straight at your side."

    With a quick example, Mendez brought his feet together, snapping his right hand crisply up to his eyebrow, eyes forward and back straight. Blaine flattened his hand, before bringing it up to his eyebrow. He straightened his back, which was a bit uncomfortable and unnatural to him. His legs had a little too much spacing however.

    "Close your legs, recruit." Mendez said. "Standing at attention is a show of respect to your superior. Remember what I said about respect, recruit?"

    "Sir, yes sir!" Blaine nodded, bringing his feet together, before standing at attention again.

    "Better. Still needs work, but for a first time, it's not bad. I expect improvement, one-one-five."

    After a time, the other recruits made their beds neat and straight. From the corner of Blaine's eyes, he could see a couple of kids get shocked by the men in uniform for having creases on their beds, or their pillows weren't fluffed correctly.

    Eventually, however, the other kids followed his suit and stood at attention. When they were finished, Mendez stood in the middle of the aisle.

    "When I say 'at ease', then and only then are you allowed to return at rest." Mendez said. "When you are at rest, your hands are either at your side, or folded behind your back. Your legs are together, and your back is still straight."

    Snapping into his own crisp salute, Mendez nodded his head.

    "At ease, recruits."

    Some of the kids hesitated, like Blaine, but recovered quickly, hands at their sides, legs closed, and backs still partially straight. With Mendez's orders, the kids formed their single file lines, and faced towards the door. Mendez mentioned headed to an amphitheater, whatever that was.

    They were escorted down the hallways by the handlers and Mendez. Anyone that stepped out of line was shocked immediately by a handler, and thrown back into the line. Blaine gazed around as they were lead into a massive circular room, with seats lining them all around, stacked up a layer to practically the roof.

    In front of them, Doctor Halsey and what appeared to be a ghost lady stood on the stage. Blaine hadn't noticed until now, however, that his clothes had been changed in the night. Just at the right shoulder of his black one pieced suit was the numbers 115 in bold white font. Looking around, he noticed it with the others too.

    Mendez's handlers left the room, leaving the children with Doctor Halsey and Mendez in the center of the room. She beckoned the children to take a seat in the room. Looking around, Blaine placed himself towards the back of the room, for him, it was where he was most comfortable.

    Following him was a boy around his age, with shaggy brown hair. His shirt read 052. Blaine remembered Mendez talking to 052 earlier.

    "Hello." the boy said, sitting beside Blaine. "Ah nevum Jorge."

    "What?" Blaine asked.

    "It means; my name is Jorge." the boy said. "What's your name?"

    "Uh," Blaine paused. "Ah nebum Blaine?"

    Jorge chuckled at Blaine's attempt to repeat what Jorge had said.

    "NeVum. With a 'V'." Jorge smiled. "That's okay though. Nice to meet you, Blaine."

    "You too." Blaine nodded. "Say, do you know why we're here?"

    "No." Jorge shook his head. "I only got here a week ago. I used to be able to play with the others. They only just started being mean."

    There was a bit of feedback as the wireless microphone on the stage turned on. The kids in the room recoiled at the piercing sound, the ghost lady beside Halsey waved her hand, fixing the issue.

    "I see many of you have already taken a seat." Halsey's calming voice rang out across the room. "For those of you that haven't, please take a seat."

    "Per Naval code 45812, you are all hereby conscripted into UNSC special project codenamed: ORION II." Halsey paused, understanding that many of the kids likely wouldn't understand. "Also known as SPARTAN II."

    Blaine still didn't entirely know what was going on, but he had a feeling that he was going to find out. He slid nervously in his seat, eyes peering around the theater, haplessly searching for someone to explain it to him.

    "You're parents are gone." Halsey said, as Blaine's heart skipped a beat.

    Hadn't she said yesterday that she found Mr. Harlowe, that he was alive? Didn't she promise that she was going to take him to Mr. Harlowe?

    "Planet Reach is now your home. Your fellow trainees are your new family. Each and every one of you has been hand selected and called to serve. All of your bodies are faster and stronger than most other children, and we are going to make them even better."

    There was a pause, allowing each of the kids to sink in what they had just heard. Blaine could hear several kids crying to his left, missing their parents and family. Jorge and Blaine looked at each other, before returning their eyes to Doctor Halsey, the ghost lady, and Mendez.

    "CPO Mendez?" Halsey asked, as Mendez walked to the center of the stage. "Escort the children to the Mess Hall. You will feed them, and then you will proceed to train them."

    "Trainees? Fallout!" Mendez barked, as the children stood.

    The children made their way to the bottom of the room, standing in their lines again. Marching out of the room, Mendez escorted them to the mess hall, which was much different than what Blaine had been used to.

    They were instructed to take trays, move through the line, where the kitchen staff served them sloppy looking meals. Blaine quietly walked to his own table, placing the tray in front of him. Jorge was quick to follow him, sitting beside him.

    "Sorry about all this." Jorge sighed. "Your parents are still out there, I'm sure of it."

    "Mr. Harlowe isn't coming for me." Blaine shook his head. "Charlie was right, no-one wants me around."

    "Hey, I think you're cool." Jorge said, placing a hand on Blaine's shoulder. "My parents used to be Insurrectionists, whatever that means. They weren't very nice people anyways, so I ran away."

    Blaine heard footsteps behind him, as a trio of kids walked over to him and Jorge. Two of them were girls, while the lone boy shrugged his shaggy black hair away from his face.

    "Can we sit with you?" one of the girls asked, as Blaine and Jorge turned to each other.

    "Um, sure?" Blaine said uncertainly.

    With a smile from the two girls, they sat across from Blaine and Jorge. The lone boy hesitated for a moment, before taking a seat beside one of the girls.

    "I'm Katherine. You can call me Katie, if you want." the first girl, who had originally asked to sit with them, said. "Though I guess my number is zero-seven-six."

    "I'm Lorelei." the second girl said nervously, pushing a strand of red hair from her face. "I'm number one-zero-two."

    Blaine turned his attention to the lone boy at the other side of the table, who avoided their gaze. Everyone at the table looked at him expectantly, as he sighed.

    "I'm Butch." he growled. "Or zero-six-one, as Mendez put it."

    As Blaine remembered, Mendez didn't seem to like Butch very much. However, he couldn't really tell why. Nervously, Blaine spiked the variable mush on his tray, scooping a mouthful of the flavorless sludge in.

    Cringing at the taste, Blaine coughed into his arm.

    "Ah nevum Jorge." his companion spoke up. "Zero-five-two. This is Blaine, one-one-five."

    "Wow." Katherine replied, her eyes brightening. "You're in the hundreds."

    "Is that good?" Blaine asked quietly, as she giggled.

    "Just means you have a bigger number than us." Katherine said, her face suddenly drooping. "So, do you think Ms. Halsey was telling the truth? Are our parents really gone forever?"

    "I don't think so." Butch snorted. "She's lying, I can tell."

    The five kids remained in silence after that, managing to gag down the thick, colorless goop on their trays. It was then that they heard a shrill whistle from the back of the room. All eyes turned to Mendez, who held a pocket whistle in his mouth.

    "Trainees, you will discard your leftovers into the receptacle in the corner, place your trays in the feeder, and proceed to form your lines again." Mendez barked. "You have fifteen minutes exact to receive and eat your meals. If you take too much time, you will be shocked. You will eat quickly, you will not waste food from this time on. This begins at Lunch."

    Quickly, the kids scraped the remnants of their foodstuff into the receptacle, before placing the plastic trays into a belt fed dish washer. Forming their lines again, they followed Mendez to the adjacent room. In the middle of the room, the ghost lady stood in front of a strange circular table.

    Blaine could see her much clearer now, noticing that a small beam of light from the table was what made her visible. She wore a strange white cloth, and an even weirder hat. When she spoke, her voice had a strange metallic after effect, that caused Blaine to cringe.

    "Class has now started." the woman said, her gaze following around the room. "My name is Déjà, I will be your teacher from now on."

    "Ma'am?" Blaine raised his hand gingerly, all of the other kids eyes on him. "Are you a ghost?"

    "No no. I am an artificial intelligence. One-one-five." Déjà chuckled. "In other words, I'm a projection of a computer."

    "Oh." Blaine sank down, he didn't mean to offend her.

    "In this class, we will be learning about various tactics and fighting styles as utilized across all human history. From the Ancient Romans, to the Rainforest Wars. I will be covering every aspect of the realm of combat, lessons that you will all be using in the days to come. Déjà continued. "Today we will learn of the battle of Thermopylae, the untouchable Spartans, and the Persian army."

    "Xerxes, the self proclaimed God of the Persians, wanted to steal Greece from the Spartans. His forces numbered in the thousands."

    The circular table brightened, as a holographic picture of a desolate ravine appeared before the children. Men dressed in nothing but red cloth, with strange metallic disks and sticks stood on one side. The other side had the most people, dressed in much finer clothing.

    "Why didn't Xerxes just sail around them?" one boy, to Blaine's right, asked, the numbers one-one-seven on his chest.

    "Xerxes wanted to send a message, John. He failed, and just three hundred Spartans saved Greece." Déjà explained, as the kids around John cheered. "Through the use of phalanxes and tactical precision, King Leonidas was able to defeat Xerxes main armies, with only a small handful of his warriors. That will be all for today, tomorrow, I shall teach you about wolves.

    With that, the door behind them opened. Mendez and his handlers stood there. As such, the children formed their lines again. Blaine had no idea what was to come next, but he feared it wasn't going to be quite as fun.



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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Manny on March 19th 2016, 5:20 pm

    God damn... I can say this is some real dark and messed up shit. I mean that as a compliment though.

    Mostly it was your series of events that really struck me, but before I continue I feel I should mention something, as a criticism of my previous criticisms. I used to think some of your situations were a little unrealistic, because they didn't line up with my life experience and I was comparing your stories to that subconsciously. I guess because I'm older I now realize that humans have a great capacity to be very stupid and downright evil. So yes, now I find these situations believable now and they're pretty dark.

    Tasha hates an innocent little boy because his father was UNSC. It's possible she lost family to the UNSC or is incredibly loyal to the Insurrectionist cause, and so she them the UNSC as "them". It's not hard to dehumanise the enemy at that point, and so she may have no qualms about abusing a five year old boy, and anyone who tries to help him, because his father belongs to political faction she hates and encouraging other children to beat this child.

    Blaine is a five year old boy who eventually does fight back and ends up murdering another child and almost commits murder/manslaughter on Tasha.

    Then those ODSTs  and Morgan went on a power trip and basically went "screw the UNSC's public image, this damn Innie is getting what she deserves".  The fact they actually say "we won't let him kill her", suggest that everything else is fine with them. Not one even hesitated in raising their rifle, or told Morgan to back off. Think about how little they had to care if they were willing to interrupt official, legal police business in order to publicly beat information out of a women and keep the police away at gun point.

    Halsey essentially tricks a five year child into a life of military service because she was fully aware of his situation and that taking him then and there meant no one would find him.

    So yeah, it's pretty dark. Keep it up though, it's written well even if upon inspection it can seem a little disturbing.

    Another note; I like how Blaine is pretty quiet and you portray this without explicitly going "Blaine was a quiet boy". Just by reading it, you notice Blaine doesn't actually talk much and from there you get the idea that's just how he is. Good job on that front, I liked that detail a lot.
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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 6:52 pm

    @Manny wrote:God damn... I can say this is some real dark and messed up shit. I mean that as a compliment though.

    Mostly it was your series of events that really struck me, but before I continue I feel I should mention something, as a criticism of my previous criticisms. I used to think some of your situations were a little unrealistic, because they didn't line up with my life experience and I was comparing your stories to that subconsciously. I guess because I'm older I now realize that humans have a great capacity to be very stupid and downright evil. So yes, now I find these situations believable now and they're pretty dark.

    I won't lie to you, when I first started writing Blaine, it was at the peak of my social awkwardness. My interactions with people that weren't my family were extremely low, so I didn't have a grasp of what made a normal conversation.

    As such, my reactions to such incidents was not normal either. If you read them as unrealistic, chances are they actually were. Still, I guess they proved a point in some regard, even if they were a bit unbelievable.

    @Manny wrote:

    Tasha hates an innocent little boy because his father was UNSC. It's possible she lost family to the UNSC or is incredibly loyal to the Insurrectionist cause, and so she them the UNSC as "them". It's not hard to dehumanise the enemy at that point, and so she may have no qualms about abusing a five year old boy, and anyone who tries to help him, because his father belongs to political faction she hates and encouraging other children to beat this child.

    Without spoiling much, you're on the right track when it comes to this scenario. More will be discovered soon.

    @Manny wrote:Blaine is a five year old boy who eventually does fight back and ends up murdering another child and almost commits murder/manslaughter on Tasha.

    To Blaine's credit, he didn't actually know he killed Zach. He'll be finding that out rather soon, however. As for Tasha, well, I couldn't blame him, could you? Razz

    @Manny wrote:Then those ODSTs and Morgan went on a power trip and basically went "screw the UNSC's public image, this damn Innie is getting what she deserves".  The fact they actually say "we won't let him kill her", suggest that everything else is fine with them. Not one even hesitated in raising their rifle, or told Morgan to back off. Think about how little they had to care if they were willing to interrupt official, legal police business in order to publicly beat information out of a women and keep the police away at gun point

    There's one quote that will be displayed on this story at some point that truly resonates with what Morgan and his ODSTs did in regards to Tasha Lowry and the Police.

    The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, that you forget that you're special too. -Ernest Hemingway.

    Now, I know that the quote in a nutshell doesn't entirely encompass the scenario. However, if you focus on the first part of the quote: "The most painful ting is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much..."

    It begins to paint a clearer picture as to what motivated Morgan to go on this power trip. As he explained in that installment, he was working on pulling some strings to be able to have Blaine live with him on base, with a paid caretaker to watch over him when he was on active duty, until he could formally retire.

    As was also explained, the Chief of Police was known for supporting Insurrectionist movements when off the clock, as hinted by Morgan. Morgan, however, wasn't interested in potential affiliations, or even to interrupt an ongoing Police investigation. His priority concern was to locate Blaine, and it was only when Tasha began to become hostile that he and his men responded in kind.

    It isn't an entirely justifiable act, but it's a human response. People forget that people break laws all the time, especially if it involves the life of a loved one. He had just lost Iceman earlier that day, and then his only son and remaining part of his wife Amber goes missing? The fact he didn't kill Tasha then and there shows, in some regards, just how much self control Morgan actually has.

    Craig and the twins knew Morgan wasn't going to kill her in front of those kids. However, the cops didn't. They trust Morgan's judgement as squad leader to make the right call. In this case, Morgan went off a little half-cocked and made an unnecessary scene. However, this also hasn't been their first time in situations like this, where they have encountered known Insurrectionist supporters in the public eye.

    This rant was meant as a means of discussion and insight, not to poke at your remarks. You are very spot on with your comment.

    @Manny wrote:Halsey essentially tricks a five year child into a life of military service because she was fully aware of his situation and that taking him then and there meant no one would find him.

    Ever since I read the Fall of Reach, even though I believe the Spartans treat her like a mother figure. I had to think of what exactly an actual, knowledgeable kid would do when a stranger asks him to go with them.

    In the original Uprising, Blaine didn't even hesitate to say yes. He didn't know these people, they asked his name, she gave him a number, and they hopped and skipped to the Pelican.

    I actually found it pretty tricky on how to word it, so that it was believable how she tricked him. We know Halsey is cunning and smart. If she wasn't, they'd have no respect for her. She's a genius through and through, and I wanted her to utilize that for her gain.

    She saw that newspaper, she took a moment to analyze the facts, and then she made her move. As much as the Spartans are depicted to loving her, she's not a very nice woman. Even though she occasionally regrets her decision to abduct those children, she is responsible for the torture/mutilation/and death of seventy five children. Six of which *according to actual Canon* are combat ready.

    This story will not coddle her, but it won't be as harsh as 343's depiction of her. She is most definitely a monster, but she has her reasons, and we all know why.

    So yeah, it's pretty dark. Keep it up though, it's written well even if upon inspection it can seem a little disturbing.

    Another note; I like how Blaine is pretty quiet and you portray this without explicitly going "Blaine was a quiet boy". Just by reading it, you notice Blaine doesn't actually talk much and from there you get the idea that's just how he is. Good job on that front, I liked that detail a lot.

    I promised dark and gritty, and it's what I aim to give Razz .This isn't the fairy tale that Blaine's life used to be. It's grizzly, it's chilling, it's supposed to make you feel a bit uncomfortable to read. 'Cause this is the story of a boy who was kidnapped, tortured and manipulated, trying to cope in a world that he previously thought he didn't belong.

    It's a psychological story, that really is going to go in depth with what makes Blaine tick. How will the effects of his past affect his future? What heights will he reach, before he goes too far? You'll see exactly what I mean in the next update, which is on the way.

    Thank you very much for reading, and taking the time to share your thoughts on the story!



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 19th 2016, 8:15 pm

    Blaine was, in fact, correct about his assessment. He and the others were led outside, where Mendez forced them to perform one hundred jumping jacks. His heart thumped in his chest, his lungs struggled for air, and the muscles in his arms and legs tensed in protest.

    He watched around as other students around him were zapped for stopping to take a break. The sheer sight of the baton kept him going, as he steadied his breathing. No matter how much he hurt, he had to keep going.

    "Drop and give me seventy, trainees." Mendez barked, as Blaine fell to his hands and knees.

    Mendez had mentioned that it meant push ups, and he recalled how Ms. Lowry used to force him to do push ups for her amusement back in the day. In fact, Blaine was actually starting to miss Ms. Lowry and the others. Jorge and the other kids were nice enough and all, but this wasn't fun.

    Straightening out his legs, Blaine huffed and puffed as he pushed his chest up and off of the ground. Before sinking low enough to touch his chin to the ground. He repeated this until he lost count entirely. Still, he couldn't stop, even if his arms were becoming jelly. Suddenly, Mendez's boot rested on his back, making the push ups all the harder for Blaine.

    Groaning, Blaine pushed up against Mendez's foot, he wasn't sure how far he had gone. He lost count near the thirties, sweat trickled down his forehead, as Mendez removed his foot from his back. With another whistle, the children hurriedly stood to their feet, snapping to attention.

    "That was a good workout, recruits, but it's far from over. We still have plenty of daylight to burn out here. Everyone to one-one-five's left is coming with me to the mud pits. Everyone to his right will be following Sergeant Ramos in a run around the facility."

    Blaine turned his gaze to his left. Jorge, Katherine, Butch, Lorelei, and a couple of other kids formed a line, with Blaine taking the front. Blaine followed Mendez, as he led them across the courtyard to what appeared to be a field of mud. Blaine was fearful, however, as there were coils of wire at the top, with a whole bunch of prickly parts on them.

    "Trainees, the goal of this exercise is to crawl underneath the wires, from this spot here." Mendez pointed at the side closest to them, before moving his finger to the far side. "To there. If you do not maintain your form, you will be cut by the razor wire. I will NOT be offering you band-aids today, recruits. So keep your heads down, and get crawling!"

    Blaine was hesitant at first, until he heard Mendez' baton snap open. With the other kids, Blaine laid prone on the ground, crawling through the mud underneath the wire. As he had feared, the wires were practically on his back. Sinking himself further into the mud, he used his forearms and legs to wriggle through the mud, avoiding the wire.

    Behind Blaine, he heard one of the other kids scream. He couldn't afford to look back, mostly because doing so would cause him to get cut too. He was nearing the end anyways, and resolved to get himself through. Once he was on the other side, he saw Jorge, Katherine, Lorelei and Butch standing there, hands on their knees and panting.

    Jorge and Katherine walked over, helping him to his feet. Blaine turned back, however, to see a terrifying sight. One of his fellow trainees had gotten stuck in the razor wire, which had wrapped itself snugly around his torso and neck. Blood streamed down his muddy, wet face, mixing with the tears of pain he was experiencing.

    Blaine took a step forward, he didn't care if he had to go back through and risk getting cut. The boy needed his help. Before he could advance further, however, Mendez's hand clasped his shoulder.

    "I commend your bravery, trainee." Mendez replied sternly. "He must learn to fix his own problems, or he won't survive. Do not help him."

    "But sir, Doctor Halsey said we were family, sir." Blaine looked up at Mendez. "Family doesn't let family get hurt."

    "Strong words, trainee, but there are some times where a member of the family weighs the family down. They must either deal with their own problems, or risk being cut off. Move out Trainees, we're going on a PT run."

    Mendez turned on his boots, as the children formed a line again. Blaine turned his gaze to the boy in the razor wire, slicing his hand every time he tried to remove the snugly wound razor wire off of him. He sobbed to himself, reaching a bloodied hand out towards them.

    "Wait!" the kid screamed. "PLEASE! HELP ME! PLEASE!"

    Blaine's heart dropped as the kid continued to cry out for help, as they marched away. When they got outside of earshot, Mendez began to jog, as a trio of handlers jogged alongside the children.

    "Everything I say, you will repeat to me correctly, and in unison. The odd man out will run another lap for each mistake." Mendez said. "If you step out of time, you will face another lap."

    They jogged for a time, before Mendez opened his throat and began to chant.

    "Helljumper Helljumper where you been?"

    "Helljumper Helljumper where you been?" the kids repeated.

    "Feet first to hell and back again!" as such, the kids mimicked his words.

    "When I die please bury me deep!
    Place an MA5 down by my feet!
    Don't cry for me, don't shed no tear!
    Just pack my box with PT gear!
    Cause in the mornin' bout zero-five!
    The ground'll rumble, their'll be lightnin' in the sky!
    Don't you worry; don't you come undone!
    It's just my ghost on a PT run

    Blaine's throat became scratchy and dry midway through the cadence, but he would not topple. He really didn't like those batons, and he knew it would probably hurt a lot more now than it would have that morning.

    Of course, his feet were very close to collapsing under him, causing him to stumble a bit on their run. Mendez noticed this, and ordered him another two laps as punishment. Katherine had also stumbled a few times, or messed up a word hear or there. She had an extra four laps on top of Blaine's.

    Nearing the end of his second lap, he resolved to stay with her. She was the only trainee that was still supposed to run around the building. She looked at him as they crossed the starting line, confused as to why he was still jogging with her. He nodded with a smile, before reciting everything Mendez bellowed in front of them, Katherine following suit.

    At the end of Katherine's run, they linked back up with Jorge and the others. Mendez stood behind Blaine, baton at the ready.

    "I only issued you two extra laps, one-one-five." Mendez said. "You disobeyed my orders. You'd best give me the best excuse you've got, trainee."

    Blaine turned towards the man, his gaze turning to Katherine for a moment.

    "I didn't see why she had to go it alone, sir." Blaine said. "King Leonidas never abandoned any of his Spartans, when he fought against Xerxes."

    Mendez stopped for a moment, pondering the answer that Blaine had given him. It was a pretty solid answer, especially coming from such a young boy.

    "Hmm. Good answer, Trainee. From now on, don't disobey my orders. Or there will be severe consequences." Mendez said, as one of his handlers approached him, whispering something into his ear. "I see. Fetch it and encapsulate it, then incinerate it. As for you, Trainees, it's time for Lunch."

    The kids snapped to a salute, before heading back into the building. They were aware that they were always being watched, so they decided not to deviate from the path. As before, the trainees grabbed their trays and bustled through the line. Blaine and the others regrouped at the table they had sat at before.

    "I overheard one of the handlers talking earlier." Jorge gently swirled his mashed potatoes around. "They said there was seventy five of us this morning."

    "I heard one of the handlers talking to the others, while you and Katherine were running." Lorelei turned to Blaine. "He said that one-zero-seven, the kid at the mud pits, died."

    Blaine's heart skipped a beat, as he gazed down at his tray. Just what was this place? Why were they doing this to them? They were kids! Ms. Sanders would never have done anything like this to them.


    Muffled screams echoed the halls of the UNSC compound. Craig slowly walked up to the door that had been the source of the terrifying pleas for help. Upon opening the door, he wasn't surprised to see Morgan shaking off his right fist, a metallic utensil covering the tips of his knuckles.

    The prisoner was restrained on the hard metal wall, blood trailing down her forehead and down her cheek. Sweat and saliva trickled off of her face, as Morgan growled in anger.

    "We get anything out of her?" Craig asked, approaching.

    Tasha Lowry was chained against the wall, seemingly unconscious. Craig knew that Morgan's actions the day before were unjustified. Hell, it took Colonel Hackett pulling some strings to keep the UNSC's public image intact. If Insurrectionists had gotten a whiff of what had happened in that Orphanage, they'd use that to gain momentum.

    Still, he could relate to Morgan's pain. Amber was like his sister, and Iceman was like a brother to him. Morgan stripped the metal off of his knuckles, wiping his hand clean with a cloth.

    "Nothing." Morgan spat. "She's damn lucky that she's got vital info on the Insurrection. Otherwise, I'd-"

    "I get it." Craig said. "Listen, I'll take the questioning from here. You need to rest. You haven't slept in days."

    "How can I sleep, Craig?" Morgan shook his head. "My son is out there, and they still haven't found 'im."

    "Just relax, they're scouring the entirety of New Alexandria as we speak. He's a five year old kid, it's highly unlikely he could have gotten far." Craig said. "As your brother and second in command. You need to sleep, now. Clear your head, and for god's sake, don't kill this woman."

    Morgan sighed, brushing past Craig, as the door slid closed behind him. Craig took a seat in the corner, looking over the footage of Morgan's unorthodox 'questioning'. He thanked his lucky stars that ONI had granted them permission to treat her as they deemed fit, so long as they scavenged all of the information on the Insurrection she had left.

    "Ungh." he heard her groan.

    "You're awake. Good." Craig said. "You should be thankful. The last guy he interrogated had to be put on life-support before the first question dropped."

    "Fug du." she said, her nose clearly broken.

    "Wouldn't you like to?" Craig said, pulling a chair over. Sitting on it in a reverse style, he rested his forearms on the back of the chair. She glared at him, the blood that welled in her eyes giving her eyes a grotesque red glow in the dim lighting. "Luckily for you, I'm much more easy going."

    "This is why I hade de UNSC." she spat. "Du thing du are so gread, above da law."

    "We do what is necessary to protect law abiding citizens." Craig replied coolly. "Our methods may be unorthodox, sure, but we don't straight up kill innocent people. We only break the law, if we know our actions will save lives in the long run. Are we hypocritical? Maybe."

    "Every soldier in the UNSC is fighting because they follow the law, and do as they're told. Your faction killed my Sister-in-law, making that little boy you tormented so much motherless." Craig said. "You know what she did wrong? She did as she was told."

    "You see, Ms. Lowry, I don't view politics when I pull the trigger. In wars like these, each side thinks they are the good guy, fighting for the common man. There are no good guys, there are no bad guys, Ms. Lowry. There is Humanity, and ideology. The UNSC wants order and peace in the stars, and the Insurrection wants reform."

    "People like to think that words don't hold power." Craig continued, scratching his wrist. "Truth is, words have the most power in this world. Where there are words, people will interpret those words. The thing about Humanity is we perceive things differently, and instead of forging more words to reach an agreement, we resort to bloodshed."

    Craig cracked his neck, sighing for a moment, his eyes scanning the floor beneath him.

    "I didn't come here for semantics though. I've come to offer you a second chance, as I do with every person I interrogate. I want everything you know, not only on Blaine's case, but about the Insurrection." Craig said. "If you comply, you have my word that you will be relocated and protected. If you don't, I have orders to get the information out of you, no matter how many humanitarian laws I have to break. Capiche?"

    Lowry glared at him, spitting a mixture of blood and saliva onto his face. Pulling a clothe out of his back pocket, he wiped the mixture off of his face. She smirked at him, as he stood. Walking over towards the wall, he pressed a button, which locked the door, placing a blind over the window.

    "There's something you should know about my brother and I, Ms. Lowry. We both take family very seriously. Your negligence in raising my nephew, his son, as a result of your disdain for the UNSC, is grounds for us to be very, very cruel to you." Craig said. "Unlike my brother, I have a much higher tolerance for this stubbornness. I extend my offer to you one last time, before it goes away."

    Pulling out a leather man from his pocket, Craig opened the needle nose pliers. Walking over towards her with them, he slowly opened and closed them, making sure they clicked each time they closed.

    "Nice Craig is here right now." Craig said in her face. "Nice Craig is the one that is offering you your rights as a civilian under UNSC law to be released and protected, in exchange for information. If he goes away, so does my offer, and you won't like Bad Craig."

    "Whad are du going du du wid dat?" she asked, eyes widened at the needle nose pliers.

    "Nice Craig won't use them, Ms. Lowry." Craig said. "Bad Craig, however, will remove one fingernail every second you don't answer a question. When you've run out of fingernails, Bad Craig will continue with your teeth. If you run out of teeth, well, I hope you like oak wood for the casket."

    "Your a monsder!"

    "I'm not the one that assisted and participated in systematically torturing a five year old boy, Ms. Lowry." Craig said. "You see, ma'am. My brother and I have our unique interrogation techniques. He breaks you physically, I break you mentally. Either way, we will get the information we want from you. How much of yourself are you willing to give for the Insurrection?"

    Ms. Lowry began to sob, her head hung low. Craig pulled the chair up, sitting in it again in a similar fashion to how he had previously.

    "Dey dook my son." Tasha cried. "Durig a raid on Signna Ogdanus IV. A deam of soldiers sdormed my house. My husband was an Insurregsionisd."

    "My liddle boy, no older dan Blaine, wanded du be lige his dad." Ms. Lowry sobbed. "He dhoughd id was a game, and he pulled de doy gun."

    Craig's eyes widened at the information she had shared with him. The UNSC had opened fired on a kid that they thought had been indoctrinated into the Insurrectionist movement. Bowing his head, Craig's eyes scanned the floor. It made perfect sense, and no sense at all.

    Her son was a victim of circumstance, just as Blaine had been to her cruelty. Why was it that her disdain for the UNSC would push her to do the same thing to Blaine, as the UNSC had done with her son? Did she expect it to be justice?

    "I'm sorry for your loss." Craig said. "Truly, I am. But-"

    "Don'd gib me dad crap!" she screamed. "Du UNSC dink du are all da vicdims."

    "We are when you do the exact same things to our kids. If your cause wanted they were better than us, you should have acted more maturely." Craig replied sternly. "I'm sorry the UNSC fired on your son, Ms. Lowry. The fact of the matter is, you should have been above that."

    "Instead of a rifle, you used harassment as your weapon, and words were your ammunition." Craig stood, pointing in her face. "Your treatment of Blaine was no different than how the UNSC treated your son. You assumed that because his father was UNSC, that he was a bad kid by default. You didn't even get to know him."

    Tasha thought for a moment, as tears ran down her cheeks. Her head dipped low, her hair matted with blood and dirt.

    "As much as I love my nephew, though, my goal here isn't that. You were knocked unconscious, you would have no idea where he went. I'm here for your connections to the Insurrection. I want names of leaders on the surface of Reach, and I want defenses, training levels, locations, and achilles' heels." Craig said. "You have a minute to talk, before I make Nice Craig go bye bye."

    "Hab du no soul?"

    "Had you been more cooperative before, neither of us would be here now. Blaine would be with his father, and we would've found an alternative means to getting to the Insurrection of Reach." Craig continued. "You messed with the bull, honey, and now you're getting the horns. Thirty seconds."

    "Ogay, ogay." Lowry said. "Da one in charge id a man named Derrence Fledcher. He moves on a bi-weegly basis. He relied on me du keep an eye on du undil you lefd Reach. Den he wad goig du make ad addack on Ledbridge Indusdrial in New Alegandria."

    "Does he have a location he generally remains at?" Craig asked. "Where he plans out these attacks and mobilizes his troops?"

    "Des." she nodded. "Bud he neber dold me where."

    David moved the pliers to her index finger on her right hand, which hadn't been reset from when Morgan broke it the day before. Placing one end underneath the nail, he squeezed it close.

    "Wade, wade, wade!" she cried. "Id's de druth! I heard dad he wad id de Ouder Colonies. Id's all I know, I swear!"

    "Have you heard of the defense structure of the base, does it have advanced tracking systems."

    "I'b on de lowest dier. I'b nod allowed to know. Dad's informadion way oud of my range."

    "I see." Craig said with a curt nod, pulling out a tablet. "Eusine Halsey, to section B. I have a patient here and ready to receive treatment."

    "Doe, where are dey dakig me?" Lowry asked.

    "A little place I and others at ONI like to call Midnight." Craig replied.

    Lowry's eyes widened with horror, as she shook horrifically on the wall. She screamed in protest, as Craig began to walk away. Midnight was a place that was only talked about as stories to frighten bad kids, or so she had thought. It was rumored to be a prison of maximum security, where the occupants disappeared from public eye.

    "I doughd du were gibbig me a segond chance?!" she screamed.

    "Oh I am." Craig said with a grin. "You'll be given three square meals, a warm bed, and as much isolation as you put my nephew through. Most importantly though, you won't be telling your Insurrection buddies about us any time soon. See, Nice Craig can be a deceiving asshole too."

    "I'd rader de oder guy killd me." she spat, as Craig walked up to her, patting her gently on the cheek, before wiping the blood off on his cloth.

    "Oh, but my dear, that'd be the easy way out." Craig smirked. "A luxury that a bitch like you unfortunately can't afford anymore. Say hi to Bertha for me, she's still pretty pissed at me about sharing a similar scenario as this."

    "Maybe next time, you won't fuck with ONI or their families, yeah?" Craig began out the door. "Oh who am I kidding? There isn't going to be a next time."



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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 20th 2016, 1:21 am

    "Up recruits, do you not know what the direction UP means?!" one of the handlers barked, as Blaine snapped awake.

    Sliding out of his cot, Blaine quickly set to making his bed up. When he had finished, as he had done for the previous few days, he stood at the foot of his bed in a crisp salute. To his credit, he hadn't been shocked by the baton, save the few times he forgot to properly address CPO Mendez.

    "Well done, one-one-five." Mendez said, giving an approving nod. "Well done indeed."

    "Thank you, sir!" Blaine said, holding his salute.

    "At ease, recruit." Mendez said, as Blaine adopted a more relaxed stance.

    Over the past few days, his body was getting more used to the rigorous training that Mendez had them do outside of the classroom. He was still sore at the end of the day, though it wasn't as bad as the first day had been.

    The rumors of his fellow recruits had only solidified when a few of the trainees didn't return that night. Thankfully, the rest of them had managed to pull through. Blaine's mind still occasionally went to thoughts of Mr. Harlowe looking for him, and wondering how Ms. Sanders and Lucy were doing.

    Shaking the thoughts from his mind, he saw Mendez pacing with his baton once more. Blaine's eyes glued to the stick of doom, as Mendez's words infiltrated his mind.

    "Today will be a little different than what you're used to, recruits. My men and I have taken the liberty of changing around your schedule. Keeping a routine is a healthy way to keep your mind sharp, trainees. However, you must be willing to adapt to change at a moment's notice." Mendez marched in front of the children. "Today, there will be no Morning Mess. You will be performing your usual calisthenics, and transition immediately into your morning run."

    "If you want breakfast, you're going to have to catch it." Mendez turned to John-117. "Two miles, and you will find Déjà. There, you're breakfast will be waiting for you in the form of MREs. You will all be given a water bottle, and must find a way to consume them yourself."

    The Spartan recruits stood to attention, as Mendez gave them the command to move out. The remaining trainees jogged for the door leading to the outside compound. Upon their arrival, they began working on their usual routine of jumping jacks, push ups, knee bends, deep squats, and leg lifts.

    Blaine stretched after completing them, his breathing still a bit erratic from the intense workout. He was certainly happier to see that there were less handlers looming over them with batons. Mendez showed himself, blowing his whistle and officially starting the morning run. Thankfully, they were not forced to chant the UNSC cadence, as they had on other mornings.

    Some of the girls led the pack, their legs much stronger than the others. Blaine found a tight niche to the center of the pack. His attention stayed straight, until he saw a flash in his right eye. It was a red laser, coming from the trees, and it was pointing right for his chest. Eyes opened wide, as he picked up his pace. It wasn't long before one of the trainees yelped in pain behind him.

    Turning back, one of the boys had had a green blotch of some kind on their shoulder. Were they being shot at? With paint? He saw the laser taking aim at Katherine, who had been towards the front. Jogging up beside her, he grunted as a small, yet forceful object struck his chest.

    "You okay?!" she asked, as he nodded.

    "We need to move, now!" Jorge called from the back.

    The Spartan trainees picked up their pace, as a hail of paintballs descended on them from all angles. Blaine groaned and grunted, gritting his teeth, as he tried his hardest to keep the people to his left safe from the balls.

    Blaine gasped, however, as one ball struck him in the throat. He stumbled for a moment, a hail of more of the balls striking him from all angles. Tears welled up in his eyes as he fell to his knees. The recruits continued without him, though Jorge, Katie, and Lorelei turned back to check on him.

    Mendez stopped however, to turn to Blaine. Whipping out his baton, he marched for Blaine, who was relentlessly bombarded by the paintballs. Clenching his right fist, Blaine grit his teeth and began to stand. Mendez stopped his approach, as Blaine took an uneasy step forward on his right foot, than his left.

    Mendez stopped as Blaine turned his head upwards. He saw determination in the young boy's eyes, as his stuttered step became a full blown march, regardless of the barrage striking him. He saw tears in the boy's eyes, but didn't see a chance of breaking. Using his right hand as a shield for his eyes, the trainee continued his march, before breaking into a full blown sprint, whizzing past Mendez and catching back up with the pack.

    Mendez stared in awe, Blaine returned to zero-seven-six's side, and continued to block incoming paintballs for her. Nodding his head in approval, he began to jog to catch up to his recruits. Obviously it didn't take long, considering their legs were much shorter than his.

    After the two miles, they met with a mobile circular projector. Déjà's familiar form appeared before the children, who sat down on the ground, pouring the water into their MREs. Blaine mixed his around inside of it's sleeve with his given fork, and proceeded to eat the cold mashed potatoes and gravy.

    It wasn't the best thing he'd eaten, but it certainly beat whatever they had been serving in the Mess Hall. Had it been a test? Feed them gross food so that MREs actually tasted somewhat good?

    "Good morning trainees. I trust you're-" Déjà took a look at Blaine and paused. "Goodness one-one-five, are you okay?"

    Blaine turned to her, before nodding his head, quickly eating the MRE in his hand.

    "Very good. Now class, I know the other day I promised we would learn about wolves. After our lessons on Trigonometry the past couple of days, I've decided to offer you all a treat."

    The projector behind Déjà ignited, showing the trainees a recording of a lone moose standing in a pasture. The massive, majestic beast dipped it's head into the shrubs, munching on whatever goods it could. The trainees heard a twig snap, and much like the moose, jumped at the noise.

    The hologram showed a pair of glowing eyes in the bush, following the Moose's every movement. The Moose turned it's head to the nearby clearing, where a lone grey canine awaited it. The Moose snorted, kicking it's front leg, preparing to charge.

    "As you can see, the Moose is unaware of the Wolf's pack. One Wolf acted as a distraction to lure the Moose into the ambush." Déjà reported.

    The Moose groaned as a pair of wolves dove from the shrubs and clamped their fangs into it's hind legs, dragging it down to the ground. One of the bigger wolves cleared the shrubs, clamping down on the moose's rear, to begin the feast.

    "So you see, Spartans, the wolf pack works together to take down an enemy. Much like King Leonidas did with his Spartans, the wolves used the environment, and relied on each other to take down the massive moose." Déjà continued. "This concludes today's lesson. I will see you all tomorrow for further classes."

    The trainees began their jog back to the compound, where Mendez awaited them, arms folded behind his back. The trainees produced a salute, as he returned it.

    "Today's mission; Ring the bell!" Mendez said, turning his attention to the far side of the recently constructed obstacle course. "When every member of your team has rung the bell, stand behind this line."

    Jorge clasped a hand on Jorge's shoulder, while Katherine, and Lorelei nodded with smiles. Blaine turned his eyes to Butch, who sighed.

    "Questions?" Mendez asked, as John's hand shot straight up.

    "Sir, what do we win, sir?"

    "You win dinner, one-one-seven." Mendez replied. "From this day onwards, if you want to eat dinner, you and your teams will have to work for it! A team that wins together, EATS together."

    "I've examined your behaviors over the past couple of days, trainees, and I don't think I need to tell you who your teams will be for this. There is an equal number of you here, at five members a team." Mendez continued. "Last team that crosses that line, will go without for tonight!"

    All of the trainees looked over one another, before Mendez drew his whistle. As the metallic object chirped, Blaine was not surprised as John rocketed ahead of the pack. Shaking John off of his mind, his group of friends, his team, jogged together through the course.

    First up was a massive wall, which John had managed to scale by himself. Blaine sprinted towards the wall, jumping at it with all of his might. Scrambling up the side of it, he was surprised at the wooden bar on the other side. Planting his boots on the bar, he turned around and reached an arm down.

    Jorge opted to stay down and boost the others up. Lorelei was the first to be helped up by Jorge, turning around to offer her hand. Katherine was next, as Blaine and Lorelei helped her up. Butch shook his head, as Jorge sighed in frustration.

    Running at the wall, Jorge leaped upwards, as Katherine, Blaine, and Lorelei helped him up. Lorelei and Katherine ran ahead to get a head start on the next obstacle, while Blaine and Jorge stayed behind for Butch.

    "Come on Butch!" Jorge yelled. "We won't let you go! Just jump!"

    Butch sighed, springing up to their hands. Blaine and Jorge snatched his hands, pulling him up and over the wall. With that, the three boys hopped off of the wall. Ahead, they could see Katherine and Lorelei standing before these strange metal disks held up only by a metal strand of wire.

    Katherine was the first to tackle the obstacle, opting to jump from her right foot to her left, treading quickly and stably across. As she went, the others focused on her movements, while Blaine's eyes took to the fire pole in front of them. John was about halfway up the pole, with the other members of his team at the bottom, unsure of how to ascend the pole.

    Jorge tapped his shoulder, suggesting that Blaine go next. Sighing with a mixture of fear and anxiety, Blaine jumped to the first one. Bounding off of his right foot, he landed on the next with his left one. Midway across the obstacle, his momentum stopped as he heard the bell ring.

    "FIRST!" John cheered, his team still puzzled on how to climb the pole.

    His minor hesitation took his balance off track, and he nearly fell into the mudpit below. Knowing Mendez and his tricks, he was certain more razor wire inhabited the mud. Blaine was covered in paint, he wasn't going to add mud and blood to that mix. Steadying himself, he continued his pace across, standing beside Katherine. Soon, Lorelei, Butch, and Jorge made it across.

    Other teams were gaining on them fast, so they knew they had to move. Jorge led their team to the fire pole. With a swift apology, he climbed the pole by wrapping his limbs around and wriggled his way up. Katherine and Lorelei followed, both wrapping their legs around the pole and using their upper arms to pull themselves up. Butch followed next, as Blaine turned to John's teammates.

    He felt bad for them, John had left them in the dust, and the four of them had to fend for themselves while he solo'd the course. With a frown and a nod, one of the boys gave him a thumbs up. Blaine turned to the pole, using his arms to pull himself up the pole.

    At the top, he rung the bell, joining his team behind the line, where John stood, beaming proudly.

    "Orange team is the first team across the line." Mendez called.

    Blaine looked around, it had only been his full team to cross the line. Were they Orange Team? The others cheered, turning to him to high five him, and congratulate themselves on an exercise well done.

    Blaine had actually never had this much attention before, as he was still used to just having only Lucy or Ms. Sanders as company. Still, these kids were ecstatic when he was around, so it was a nice change for once.

    Each and every one of them were his friend, even if they didn't know it. As time passed on, other teams began to cross the line. Blaine didn't see any of John's teammates arrive, until the last team finally crossed. It took a few minutes, but John's teammates eventually rang the bell and joined John.

    Samuel-034 walked up to John-117, snorting his nostrils at the redheaded kid.

    "Hey, thanks for nothin'." Sam growled, punching John across the cheek.

    Mendez stepped forwards, placing a boot on John's chest.

    "Good work trainees, each and every one of you eats. Except John-117 and his team-"

    "But sir! I was first!"

    "You were first, but your team came in last." Mendez crouched down to his level. "-and you don't win if your team doesn't win."

    Mendez began to walk away, as Blaine heard Kelly-087 spit at Blaine.

    "You kids don't know what you're missing. It's turkey, gravy, and real mashed potatoes." Mendez smirked. "Hell, I heard there might even be hot fudge sundaes tonight."

    John and his team groaned, as Blaine's friends dispersed. It was around the time for Evening Mess anyways. The obstacle course had taken the other trainees practically the whole day to complete. As they dispersed, Blaine turned back to see John's team stare down at him in anger and frustration.

    In a way, he sympathized with John. Even if John had been selfish, the others should forgive him. He knew what it was like to be spit on, and beaten. Turning back to his team, he stopped them, just out of the other's ear shots.

    "I have an idea." Blaine said, pulling his used MRE bag from his pocket.

    The trainees had been taught not to litter, and as such the MRE bags were still on their persons. Blaine, the outspoken in the group, collected the bags from the other members of their teams. While the others in his team went to Mess, he went to the facilities to clean out the bags.

    Stowing them away in his pockets, Blaine made his way back to the Mess Hall. Grabbing his tray, he sidled along the line, receiving a little bit of everything as he did so. When he approached the table with his friends, he pulled the freshly cleaned MRE bags out of his pockets, and began to scoop some turkey into one of the bags.

    "What are you doing?" Katherine asked. "Mendez will be mad if he catches you sneaking in food."

    "It's not right that John's team goes hungry because he made a mistake." Blaine said. "I'm not taking much. I just want to give them something."

    Blaine's sundae had come on a small paper plate, which Blaine folded into a quarter, before placing it in his pocket. As Mess came to a halt, he made certain to hide the MRE bags on his person to the best of his ability. Following the others into their barracks, Blaine took advantage of the period where the handlers and Mendez took their showers, to hide the bags under his pillow.

    When it was his turn to go for the showers and laundry his fatigues, he prayed that the handlers wouldn't run an inspection on his bed. His hair was still pretty sticky from all the paint it had accumulated, but it did eventually come out in time.

    Glancing at himself in the mirror, he saw a bunch of red marks covering him literally from head to toe in bruises as a result of the mini death balls. Producing a laundered pair of his fatigues, Blaine returned to the Barracks. John and his team had all gone to their showers, and Blaine knew Mendez and his handlers would likely be gone.

    Producing the MRE bags and plate from under his pillow, Blaine made his way across the room with it. Without a word, he placed the plate on the bedstand between Sam and John. He carefully removed the food onto the plate without handling it. Kelly, Linda, and Fred, who had been close enough to watch, walked over.

    "What are you doing?" Kelly asked, in her usual strange accent.

    "I felt bad for you guys." Blaine said. "So my team and I sneaked you all some food from tonight."

    "This is, wow, thank you!" Sam said with a smile.

    "You guys eat, I don't deserve it." John sighed, turning over.

    "C'mon John." Linda said. "One-one-five was nice enough to risk everything for this."

    Blaine nodded, as the other four members of John's team quietly munched down on the small meal Blaine had prepared. It wasn't enough to entirely sustain them, but it was better than nothing. John watched as Blaine walked away, before turning to the plate. Hesitantly, he ripped a piece of turkey off and ate it.

    "That was awful nice of you, baratom." Jorge said, as Blaine approached his bed. "Why'd you do it?"

    "I know what it's like to be bullied. A lot, actually." Blaine said. "I also know what it's like to go hungry."

    "I don't want anyone to feel like that." Blaine shook his head. "I don't want anymore of us to die."

    "You're awesome, you know that?" Jorge chuckled. "Really awesome."

    Blaine pulled the covers over himself, as he began to lie in his bed. Blaine rustled in the cot, it had been his bed for the past week, but he still couldn't get used to it.

    "Blaine?" Jorge asked. "What do you think about the future?"

    Blaine paused for a moment. He wasn't really too sure. He really hoped that all of this would eventually lead him to Mr. Harlowe. Though the longer it passed by, the more he feared Mr. Harlowe would forget about him, that is, if he even wanted him.

    He wished that he could see Ms. Sanders and Lucy again, and apologize to Zach and Ms. Lowry for his actions. In this week, Mendez had taught him how to kill things, what is and isn't acceptable when killing someone, and how to fire and reload a weapon.

    "I dunno." Blaine shook his head, eyes staring up at the ceiling. "I feel like it's gonna be big. Bigger than we can dream of."

    "Yeah." Jorge nodded. "Good night, Blaine."


    "Yes, CPO Mendez?" Doctor Halsey said, as Mendez walked into the room, offering her a quick salute.

    "Ma'am, I had a report about one of the recruits, ma'am."

    "Which one? John?" Halsey asked, as Mendez shook his head.

    "Negative, ma'am. Recruit One-One-Five, ma'am." Mendez stated, scratching the back of his head. "You were right about him."

    Halsey opened her eyes wider, nearly choking on her coffee.

    "Has he harmed one of the others?!" she asked, as Mendez shook his head.

    "Quite the contrary ma'am. During the morning run, where I had stationed snipers with paint-ball guns, recruit One-One-Five proceeded to use his body as a shield for Recruit Zero-Seven-Six, ma'am."

    "He protected Katherine?"

    "Affirmative ma'am. My snipers were so frustrated, they focused fire on him, practically had him on his knees and begging." Mendez said. "Then I saw it, ma'am."

    "Saw what, Chief?"

    "His warrior's spirit, ma'am." Mendez said. "Despite the relentless hail of paintballs crashing against him, and a nasty shot to his throat, he managed to not only stand and walk, but even jog back into line with the others."

    "That's remarkable?" Halsey asked, as Mendez shook his head.

    "No ma'am. What was remarkable is that, despite the torture he went through with being singled out, he still proceeded to protect zero-seven-six, ma'am."

    Halsey nodded, as she looked down at the week-old newspaper that held the article featuring Blaine's orphanage.

    "I withheld some information from you, Chief Mendez." Halsey said. "Recruit One-One-Five allegedly killed another kid his age at an Orphanage that he had been staying at. The Police reported that the caretakers had harassed him to the point of actually torturing him."

    "No kidding." Mendez mused.

    "Worse yet, when he finally defended himself, the article reads that he brutally attacked the caretaker in charge at the time." Halsey said. "I know you are a highly decorated soldier, Mendez. I have no concerns over your health. I just wanted you to know the full details."

    "Ma'am." Mendez said. "I'd like to pull him aside tomorrow. After the display I saw today, I want to tap into that potential. Blaine is a good kid, very respectful. Though he's shy, and very quiet. Requesting a private session with him, ma'am."

    "There's no way a five year old can take you on-"

    "No ma'am. I want another trainee too."

    Halsey hesitated for a moment, pondering the choice. If they rushed the Spartans into sparring this early, she was afraid of breaking trust. She needed every Spartan to trust each other, and without proper introduction into combat, or friendly sparring, there would be no trust between them.

    Still, Blaine had killed once before, even if he didn't realize it. If he was as quiet and shy as Mendez had suggested, he was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. She needed him to vent his frustrations, to stop being so quiet and shy.

    "Who would you need?"

    "John-117, ma'am."


    "Alright maggots, UP, UP!" the handlers barked, as the trainees proceeded with their morning ritual of making their beds.

    When Blaine had finished, and stood at attention, he saw Sam, Kelly, Linda, and Fred all smiling at him. John seemed indifferent, though he didn't expect much else. John was pretty selfish, Blaine deduced, or he was like Blaine and awkward around others.

    As Mendez passed, however, the members of John's team proceeded to hold their straightest faces, so as not to alert Mendez to the events of the previous night.

    "Very good, trainees." Mendez said. "You'll be having breakfast in the Mess Hall again today. There will also be no classes with Déjà today, as she is needed elsewhere. You will move out to the compound when Mess is served. Any trainees that are late will go without Lunch!"

    Before the recruits were allowed to leave, however, Mendez stood at the front of the children.

    "Recruits One-One-Five and One-One-Seven step forward."

    Blaine's eyes widened, as the members of John's team all looked nervous. John and Blaine met their eyes, before stepping before CPO Mendez.

    "You two will be coming with me, and are exempt from today's usual schedule."

    Following Mendez, Blaine turned his attention back to the other trainees, who all gave a concerned look, before they marched off to breakfast. Mendez led them down an alternate corridor than Blaine or John had ever been down before. Opening a pair of double doors, Blaine took notice of the strange square stage in the middle of the room.

    Ropes were fastened to each cover of the stage, with a singular pair of stairs leading up and into it. Mendez led the two trainees up and into the boxing ring, taking his place in the middle of them.

    "Trainees, you are here today, because you both need a lesson." Mendez folded his arms behind his back. "One of you has too much fight, and the other doesn't show enough."

    "As members of your teams, you're job as a team-mate is to assist each other." Mendez said, turning to John. "That means no more leaving them in the dust."

    Turning to Blaine, Mendez crouched low.

    "-and no tip-toeing your way out of situations." Mendez said. "So, today the two of you will be sparring. I will be standing at the edge of this ring. If I tell you to stop, you will stop your attack."

    "Understand that the trainee next to you is NOT your enemy. You are not here to kill them, you are here to win against them, in a good old fashioned test of strength and technique." Mendez continued. "To sweeten the deal, the trainee that loses team will not be allowed to eat dinner tonight."

    "Understand this, though." Mendez turned to Blaine. "If you throw the fight, just so John and his team can eat tonight, you and your team will not be allowed to eat dinner for the next three days. Am I understood?"

    "Sir, yes sir!" Blaine replied.

    "Don't you worry. One-one-five, we'll get that fighting spirit in you out. Just you wait." Mendez nodded.

    "The goal is to pin down the other trainee for ten seconds. I will be the counter here, and my count is law." Mendez stated. "When you two are ready, you may begin. Déjà will be recording your progress."

    Blaine turned to see John standing there. The pale kid glared at him with brilliant blue eyes. John clenched his fists tightly, walking towards Blaine, ready to pounce.

    Blaine really didn't want to fight John, but he also didn't want his friends to go hungry either. Putting his hands over his face, Blaine didn't know what to do. It was precisely the opening that John was looking for.

    Tackling Blaine to the ground, the two trainees rolled along the floor. When they came to a stop, John grunted as he pinned Blaine's shoulders to the floor. Blaine struggled for a moment, as Mendez stomped his boot, signaling a one. Stomping it a second time, Blaine knew that meant to. Three. Four.

    Rolling to his right, Blaine was caught off guard by Blaine's sudden movement, as Blaine scrambled to his feet. Backing off, he wasn't surprised when John was back on his feet. Fist clenched, he swung at Blaine's face, who ducked backwards to avoid getting clocked.

    John continued his advance, swinging fist after fist at Blaine, who tastefully dodged every strike. John started to get frustrated, throwing knees and kicks to hit Blaine. Thankfully for Blaine, he knew all the basic fighting moves of kids his age and above, thanks to Charlie's bullying.

    Tucking his torso in, he avoided a kick at his midsection, while tilting his head right to avoid a front punch. John growled in his annoyance, before tackling Blaine to the ground. Once again, the duo rolled across the floor.

    Yet again, John had the upper hand and pinned Blaine to the ground, this time, however, John smashed a trio of punches against Blaine's cheek. Blaine's vision faded for a moment, and when he opened his eyes again, he saw Charlie pinning him down. Charlie was grinning from ear to ear at his pain, preparing to spit on his face again.

    "Get up!" he heard Lucy yelling in the background. "GET UP BLAINE!"

    Gritting his teeth, Blaine swung his right knee up and into Charlie's crotch. Charlie grunted as he leaned forward. Blaine pitched his forehead up and into Charlie's nose. Shaking his head, Blaine stood as John laid sprawled on the mat in front of him. Clenching his fist even harder, Blaine's breathing became slow and heavy.

    John bared his teeth, before standing as well. Approaching Blaine, John swung a mighty right cross. Blaine ducked under the swing, landing a mighty punch into John's left ribs. Dodging backwards from the counter swing, Blaine struck John across the cheek with a nasty right haymaker.

    Growling in his rage, Blaine grabbed John's shoulders, his fellow trainee stunned by the blow. Pulling John towards him, Blaine rammed his knee into John's stomach. Before punching John across the face again.

    Roaring in pent up anger, Blaine grabbed the sides of John's face, before smashing his forehead into John's face. John stumbled backwards, wiping a hand across his face. Blaine and John both clenched their fists, readying for the other to make the first move.

    The two charged at each other, closing the distance between themselves. Blaine ducked under a swing from John, attempting to throw his own punch. John back stepped to avoid the blow. Blaine stepped on John's right foot causing John to yelp in pain.

    Thrusting a wicked right jab into John's midsection. Blaine swung his left fist backwards across John's chin, causing John to stumble backwards. Ducking low, Blaine tackled John to the ground, pinning John's arms and throwing a few punches into John's face.

    John struggled beneath him, as the two rolled across the floor. Rolling back to their feet, the two huffed and puffed as they stared each other down. Mendez stood with his arms crossed, waiting expectantly. The two trainees turned their attention back at each other. Blaine sprinted at John, thrusting his right knee into John's chest, knocking him back.

    Grabbing John's right arm with his left hand, Blaine pulled John close, smashing his fist into John's side again. Kneeing John with his left knee, Blaine thrust a left hook across John's opposite cheek. Preparing another punch, John knocked it aside, before planting a boot in Blaine's diaphragm.

    Blaine stumbled backwards as John launched punch after punch into Blaine's torso and face. One of John's mightiest punches snapped Blaine's head to the right.

    "You won't win against me, kid." John spat, as Blaine's eyes widened.

    Nursing his left cheek, Blaine glared at John. It was the first time John had truly seen Blaine in such an angry way. Mendez, however, had seen that look of determination. Blaine's right fist clenched, his knuckles actually popping at the tightness with which he clenched.

    Jumping off of his left foot, Blaine swung his right fist down at an angle across John's lower jaw. Stumbling backwards, Blaine continued his offensive. Swinging a savage uppercut into John's gut, Blaine grabbed the collar of John's fatigues. Smashing his fist across John's cheek once, he pulled Blaine back and struck him again with all of his might.

    John groaned as he stumbled backwards, landing flat on his back. Blaine moved closer, as Mendez finally stepped in.

    "Enough, I've seen enough." Mendez said. "Blaine, I need more of that determination from now on. John, let this serve a lesson to you. While you may think you are the best, you will ALWAYS have someone that's better at something than you. It's the way of the world."

    "Now hit the showers, both of you." Mendez stated. "Both of your teams will be having dinner tonight."

    "Recruit One-One-Five." Mendez continued, stopping Blaine. "Doctor Halsey would like to speak with you after you've showered and had breakfast."



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 20th 2016, 5:05 am

    "I'm sorry, John." Blaine said, as the two trainees walked to the showers. "I-I dunno what happened there."

    "It's okay." John said quickly. "Mendez is right. I focus way too hard on winning all the time. I need to focus on others."

    "Yeah." Blaine said, nursing his right hand. "-and I guess I have to start worrying more about myself, huh?"

    The two trainees chuckled, before turning to each other. John held his hand out, as Blaine looked down at it.

    "I'm John. Just so we can say we've met." John nodded.

    "Blaine." Blaine smiled. "That was pretty cool, huh?"

    "Yeah it was." John said. "Where'd you learn to fight like that? You must've been a King of the Hill master?!"

    "I, uh, got picked on a lot before coming here."

    "At school?" John asked, as the two took their shirts off.

    "No. The Orphanage."

    "Orphanage?" John scrunched his nose. "You mean you don't have parents?"

    "I don't know." Blaine shrugged. "Though one of my friends from that place told me my Dad was alive. I was trying to find him before they brought me here."

    "Huh." John mused. "I'm sorry about that, Blaine. I miss my parents, so I kind of know what you mean."

    "Yeah." Blaine said, his mind returning to Lucy and Ms. Sanders. "I miss my old friends. Not that I had a lot of friends, but, I miss the ones I had."

    "I never really had friends, save this one girl." John replied. "Promised her I'd always protect her."

    Without another word, the two boys tended to their showers without getting in each other's way. When they had finished and dressed, the two made their way to the Mess Hall. As was expected, it was empty.

    Still, Mendez had promised that the servers would have food left for them when they arrived. Grabbing their trays as usual, the two trainees scooted down the line.

    It was oatmeal and fruit cups for breakfast. It wasn't much, but it was better than nothing. The two sat at the same table, quietly munching down on their food.

    "Um." John said, turning to Blaine. "Thanks again for last night, by the way."

    "It's okay." Blaine nodded. "Like I said, I know what it's like to be hungry. I once went three days without food, because Ms. Lowry was really mean to me."

    "Wow." John said, mixing his oatmeal and fruits together to speed up his eating. "I heard Doctor Halsey wanted to speak with you, don't you wonder what it's about?"

    "I'm nervous, hopefully it isn't bad." Blaine shrugged.

    The two continued to eat in silence, until they had both finished their trays. John hustled off to join the others out in the compound, while Blaine marched his way to Doctor Halsey's office.

    He had only been in there a few times in the week he had been at this facility. It was filled with all sorts of weird stuff, and Déjà was seen there a couple of times. The door slid open, as he stepped in. Halsey sat behind her desk, scribbling something into a book, sipping at a cup in her hand.

    "Doctor Halsey, ma'am!" Blaine stood to attention.

    "One-one-five." Halsey said, offering him a seat.

    Blaine worked his way over to the desk and sat in one of the chairs. Behind him, the door slid open again, as CPO Mendez stood at attention. Blaine stood to salute him, but Mendez waved him off.

    "Glad you could join us Chief." Halsey said, offering him the seat beside Blaine. "I wished to discuss not only today's sparring match, but also an event that took place last night."

    "I'd like to firstly start with the event from last night." Doctor Halsey continued. "One-one-five. I have on video you swiping food from your tray and placing them within MRE bags."

    Mendez turned to look down at Blaine, who sat rigid. He could feel Mendez's glare on his back, but he had been taught to ignore pressure and speak when spoken too.

    "Ma'am. I was gathering food for members of trainee one-one-seven's team, ma'am."

    "Did they put you up to the task?" Halsey asked, as Blaine shook his head.

    "No ma'am." Blaine said, swallowing deeply. "It was all my idea, ma'am. John's behavior yesterday made the members of his team go hungry. I couldn't let members of my fellow trainees go hungry because of his choices, ma'am."

    "You are aware that the punishments that CPO Mendez puts on your fellow trainees are there for a reason, no matter how cruel?" Halsey asked sternly, as Blaine nodded.

    "Yes, ma'am." Blaine sighed. "Ms. Lowry was always keeping my lunches and dinners away from me, before Ms. Sanders stepped in, ma'am. I knew what it was like to be hungry."

    "I see." Halsey said sternly. "Do not let it happen again, one-one-five. Do you understand?"

    "Yes ma'am." Blaine nodded.

    "Right." Halsey said, taking a swig of her drink. "Mendez, how did the sparring match go?"

    "Subject One-one-five went above and beyond my expectations. He know understands what I expect from my trainees, right trainee?"

    "Yes sir, CPO Mendez sir!" Blaine nodded.

    "Good, now get back out there and run with the others."


    The daily routine had continued for two years since Blaine's induction into the Spartan program. Blaine, whom had just turned eight several months before, sat beside Jorge, Katherine, Lorelei, and Butch. In the time they had spent together, they had performed more team building exercises, weapon upkeep and training, and obstacle courses to keep their minds and body sharp.

    As the time had passed, the need for the batons had quickly passed. The Spartans had the discipline necessary to keep them within their bounds. Blaine was honestly amazed by how much he had learned in the time he had been there. He knew a lot about advanced mathematics, science, history, and even several languages.

    Likewise, with all of the new information pouring in, Blaine had slowly forgotten about Lucy, Ms. Sanders, and the others at the Orphanage. It had gotten to the point, that he figured they thought he was dead anyways, there was no point in worrying about them.

    He didn't know much about what today's exercise was about. Only that they had boarded an Albatross troop transport rig. It didn't have any viable weapons on board, but it had very thick plating around the troop bay.

    Mendez stood, arms folded behind his back. The years of stress he had endured had not been kind to him. His once black hair now had a band of grey stretching across it. Though the trainees never thought less of Mendez. They respected him, and he respected them.

    "Spartan-058." Mendez spoke, Kelly standing to attention. "Distribute these to your fellow trainees."

    Kelly took a stack of papers from Mendez's hands and passed them among the trainees.

    "You are each being handed a piece of a map of the area below us. Your mission is simple: you'll be individually deployed and use your piece of the puzzle to navigate to the extraction point." Mendez continued, eyeing each of them. "Last trainee to the extraction point walks home alone."

    "It is a very long walk back." Mendez warned. "One-one-seven, you're up first."

    "Sir!" John stood to attention, following Mendez.

    Blaine could see John whisper something to Sam, who nodded, before looking out the window. With Mendez's back turned, Sam whispered to Linda, who whispered down the line until it reached Kurt. Kurt pointed to Blaine, sticking his thumb out the window to the local river.

    To be certain Kurt meant the river, he used his hands to mimic a fish. Kurt nodded, as Blaine turned to Jorge.

    "We're meeting at the river. Pass it on." Blaine whispered, as Jorge tapped him on the shoulder with a thumbs up.

    The troop bay doors opened, as John jumped from the elevated Albatross into the winter storm. Mendez turned, as Lorelei thankfully passed the message back to Butch in time.

    "One-one-five. Front and center!" Mendez barked, as Blaine saluted him, stepping forward.

    After a moment, the troop bay door opened, as a blast of frigid air stung his face. He covered his eyes for only a moment, before peering out the bay.

    "Good luck, trainee." Mendez said, as Blaine nodded, leaping out of the back of the Albatross.

    Using his prior fitness training, he rolled over his shoulder as he landed, preventing the otherwise crippling fall. It was cool how the human body could withstand that level of pressure so long as it was distributed correctly. Rolling to his feet, he shook off the thin layer of snow his roll had collected, looking around at his immediate surroundings.

    Unlike John, Blaine had some pretty terrible luck. Shaking his head, he wasn't quite sure where the river was going to be, in reference to where he landed. Closing his eyes, he focused on when John had dropped, the time it took for Mendez to call him, and which direction he had faced when he jumped out.

    Pondering it for a moment, he realized they had turned forty-five degrees starboard, meaning that the direction he should be looking for, was port. Using his arm as a straight edge, Blaine drew a mock compass in the snow, guesstimating the degrees as accurately as he could.

    When he was content with which direction he was facing, he walked in that direction. Surely enough, he discovered boot prints in smaller size to his in the snow, following a small tributary up stream. As he walked, he heard a shrill six toned whistle.

    Olly Olly Oxen Free. It was the tune the Spartans had used for the all clear signal. From behind a couple of trees, Jorge, Katherine, and Lorelei stepped out.

    "You guys got here fast." Blaine said. "Where's Butch?"

    "He dropped just after you did." Lorelei said. "I saw him land, he wasn't hurt."

    "We have to go find him." Blaine said. "We should split up, two and two. Half of us look for the others, while the other two look for Butch. We know to look by the river for everyone else, so the group that goes for Butch won't be long behind."

    "I'll help you look." Katherine said. "Jorge and Lorelei, you two should link up with the others."

    Blaine pulled his map piece out, handing it to Jorge, as Katherine followed suit.

    "You guys remember the lesson Déjà taught us about telling time using the sun?" Blaine asked, as the others nodded. "If the three of us aren't back with you in exactly oh-two hundred hours, tell the others to go on without us."

    "That won't happen, Baratom." Jorge said.

    "I'm not asking Jorge, just please." Blaine shook his head. "We don't want that transport leaving without us."

    Lorelei nodded, tapping Jorge on the shoulder. Their feet crunched in the snow as they walked away. Katherine shivered slightly as a gust of wind billowed through the woods, snow dancing along her brunette hair.

    "I've gotta say, Blaine, you've definitely changed since you first got here." Katherine said, as the two trudged along.

    "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Blaine asked with slight confusion, as she giggled.

    "It's good." Katherine said. "When I first met you, you were really shy and didn't really talk all that much. I was actually afraid you were mute!"

    "Never really was allowed to speak all that much before Spartan training." Blaine shrugged. "I've told you about Ms. Lowry."

    "Yeah." Katherine frowned. "Well, I just wanted you to know. Even though John seems to be everyone's trusted leader, Lorelei, Jorge, and I still think of you as the leader of Orange Team."

    "Thanks Katherine." Blaine smiled. "What about Butch?"

    "You say that like he speaks at all." Katherine replied with a frown. "In fact, he rarely speaks, save for PT runs or when Mendez addresses him."

    "Yeah." Blaine shook his head. "Makes you think. Did he have it worse than me?"

    "Maybe?" Katherine shrugged.

    The two had been walking for some time, before they saw a set of tracks headed in the opposite direction. The boot was definitely around Blaine's size, meaning it was very likely to be Butch's.

    Silently, Blaine pointed his hand to the right, while he nodded his head to the left, in the direction the tracks were leading. Nodding, Katherine sneaked off to the right, using fallen logs and trees as cover, while Blaine followed the tracks.

    Whistling the tune of Olly Olly Oxen Free, Blaine was hoping for a response from Butch. When none came, Blaine picked up his pace. As he went along, the tracks seemed to get fresher and fresher with each passing moment.

    Finally, he saw Butch standing there, looking at the lone map piece in his hand. Blaine could just barely make out the black dot on the middle of the piece, which could only mean that Butch had the solution to the puzzle in his hand.

    "Butch?" Blaine asked. "You're going the wrong way! We're supposed to meet at the river."

    "I'm not going with you guys." Butch said.

    "Alright well, let's- wait." Blaine shook his head. "What?! Why not?"

    "You don't really buy into this crap, do you?" Butch asked, as Blaine stood there, dumbfounded. "These people took us from our homes, forced us to do their bidding, lied to our faces about our families."

    "We're going to be helping people, Butch." Blaine said.

    "I overheard you telling the others about Doctor Halsey's promise to take you to your Dad." Butch said. "Did you really forget that she lied to your face? Whose to say what we're doing here is actually going to help people?!"

    "What choice do we have, Butch?" Blaine asked, stepping towards him.

    "We can leave." Butch turned to him. "You, Katherine, and I. We can survive these woods. We have the training. We can return to our families!"

    "I think Mendez would know we're missing."

    "He dumped us in a forest, Blaine!" Butch replied with a shake of his head. "He'll think we died."

    "I highly doubt that." Blaine sighed.

    "You saw how no-one cared that One-zero-seven died!" Butch called back. "He won't care!"

    "Alright." Blaine said. "If I do run away with you, and we do get through this forest, then what?"

    "We go to our families." Butch said.

    "It's been almost three years, Butch." Blaine sighed. "They think we're dead, I'm certain of it."

    "How can you be sure?" Butch asked.

    "How can you be sure they don't?" Blaine retorted. "Look, it's not fun here. I know. This is the only home we have now. Don't risk your life over this."

    Blaine took another step forward, as Butch took a step back. To his right, he could see Katherine standing behind a tree. She pointed behind Butch, before indicating there was a long fall there.

    "Let's go back to the others, Butch." Blaine said. "We are your family now.

    Blaine took another uneasy step forward, Butch shambled backwards, but his foot caught a patch of ice. Noticing this, Blaine dove forward, lashing his right hand out. His hand met with Butch's, as Blaine yelped out in pain.

    His chest was nearly halfway over the cliff, and his only saving grace had been his foot getting caught in between a pair of stones. Katherine ran over to hold Blaine's leg in place, as Blaine stared Butch in the eyes.

    Holding his other hand down to Butch, he could feel his foot slipping. Katherine's grip was slippery, due to the material that made the suits the trainees now wore.

    "Take my hand!" Blaine yelled, as Butch looked up at him.

    "If I take your hand, you'll lose your anchor in that rock, and we both go." Butch said.

    Blaine's eyes widened as he felt a the map piece get lodged in his hand by Butch.

    "Take my hand Butch! That's an order soldier!" Blaine yelled, as Butch shook his head.

    "No can do, sir." Butch said, slowly releasing his hand.

    Blaine yelled, his voice echoing down the cliff, as Butch cascaded down into the foggy landscape below. Gripping the map piece tightly, he continued to yell until his throat was sore. With Butch's weight off of him, Blaine's foot served no risk of slipping out. Katherine slid to his side, peering down the cliff after him.

    "Butch!" Katherine cried, tears streaming down her cheek. "Oh god why?!"

    It wasn't shortly after that there was more rustling through the trees behind them. Blaine hid behind a rock, while Katherine crouched behind a tree. The six tone whistle echoed in the immediate area, as Blaine deftly stood up from his hiding place.

    The other trainees had come to them. John, Sam, and Kelly stepped forward, holding a crudely taped map up. A singular hole was missing in the middle of the map, which clearly was the one in Blaine's hand.

    "Jorge told me that you two were were looking for Butch?" John asked. "Did you find him?"

    Blaine dipped his head, before holding his hand open. Some of the other trainees held their hands up to their faces, as Blaine walked over and placed the map in John's hand.

    "He went the wrong way." Blaine said. "He slipped, I tried to catch him. Butch just... let go."

    Jorge and Lorelei hung their heads, as Blaine turned back to the cliff. At his feet were a pair of sticks, with which he picked up. Brushing the snow off of them, Blaine planted the makeshift cross into the crack of the nearby log.

    "I'm sorry." John said, before looking down at the map. "We need to get to that extraction point. Travel quietly, keep your heads down. This likely drew us some unneeded attention."

    "I had him in my hand." Blaine shook his head, as a tear ran down his cheek. "I could have saved him."

    "You were slipping, Blaine." Katherine said. "Butch didn't want to continue anyways. He sacrificed himself, so that you could move on."

    "He didn't need to die." Blaine clenched his fist. "I shouldn't have pressured him."

    "Stop." Katherine said, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Butch made it clear that he was willing to take the risk in leaving the Spartans. It's not your fault he kept backing up to that cliff."

    "I'm sad about his death too, Blaine." Katherine frowned. "I'm sure we all are.We have to go on though, it's what he'd want."

    Blaine sighed, walking in utter silence with the rest of the trainees. It was the second Spartan death he could have prevented, had the odds not been stacked against him.

    As they trudged along, the light of the Albatross' roaring engines illuminating the darkening woods. John held a fist up, as the trainees quickly hid themselves behind trees.

    John beckoned Blaine, Sam, and Kelly to his position. The four trainees laid on their stomachs, taking a quick peek at the Albatross.

    "Those aren't UNSC uniforms." Blaine shook his head. "Armed, don't look like soldiers."

    "Insurrectionists maybe?" John pondered it for a moment.

    "John?" Sam asked, as John thought about the plan.

    "Wolves." Kelly said, causing the three boys to turn to her. "Déjà taught us about the wolves."

    "What does that have to-" John thought for a moment. "Of course, the wolves."

    "Kelly, you'll be the bait." John said. "You can run faster than anyone here."

    "Sam, you're the distraction. Kelly will lead them to you, you'll pretend you have a broken leg." John said. "Blaine, pass the orders around. Hide with stones, when Sam gives the signal, hit 'em."

    "Right." Blaine nodded.

    Blaine slowly crept back down off of the incline to the location of the others. He instructed them to gather stones of a decent size, no smaller than their fists, to toss at the targets. In his search for his own weapon, Blaine's eyes fell upon a very strange stone.

    It was elongated and narrow, like a blade. It was near the tributary, and he deduced that it was likely due to erosion that it had ended up so. Picking it up, he was happy to know that part of it's edge was dull, allowing him to hold it.

    Taking his place towards the front of the group, Blaine hid behind a tree, using the shadow formed by the tree to blend himself in. Kelly walked right past him, standing out in the open.

    "Please help!" she cried. "My friend is hurt!"

    "What the hell?" one of the men growled. "Go get that girl!"

    "Yes sir."

    Blaine tensed as he heard the footprints crunching closer to him. Holding his breath, he watched as the man walked right past him and Jorge's position. Sam sat on the ground, nursing a 'broken' leg, as the man approached.

    "Where's the girl?"

    "Please, my leg is broken!" Sam pleaded.

    The man produced an electric baton, snapping it alight. Approaching Sam, he sneered evilly. Sam cupped his hands together and hooted like an owl. Kelly dropped from the tree she had climbed, tossing her stone at the man's temple. He groaned as he fell into the snow.

    Blaine tensed as the other man drew nearer. The man chuckled as he saw his friend laying in the snow.

    "Really? A little girl got to you?" he taunted.

    Blaine's eyes peered over to Jorge's, as the two lunged the man. Jorge tackled the man's leg, having just enough leverage to knock the adult man to the ground. Blaine was already on top of him, stabbing his sharpened rock into the man's through three times.

    The man gurgled for a moment, a look of shock in his eyes as blood trickled out of the holes in his throat. Blaine tossed the stone aside, as he looked down at his hands. They trembled as the crimson liquid dribbled down them.

    His whole body was shaking at that point, as he slowly scooted off of the man, curling up under the tree. The other trainees had thrown their assortment of rocks at the first man, effectively killing him too.

    Jorge walked over, clasping a hand on Blaine's shoulder. Blaine looked up to see his friend beaming over his shoulder.

    "He was an Insurrectionist, Blaine." Jorge said reassuringly. "Just like Ms. Lowry was. He's a bad man, you did the world a favor."

    Offering Blaine a hand, Jorge hoisted him to his feet. The other trainees cheered at their victory, before cautiously approaching the Albatross. Sam peeked his head inside just enough to catch a look.

    "Clear." he said.

    "Alright, everyone on board." John smiled. "Good job everyone."

    John and Blaine sought to help everyone into the ship, as Blaine climbed in next. John jumped in, ensuring he was the last one in.

    John passed the trainees, working his way to the cockpit of the machine. He fooled with the controls, activating the ship's auto-pilot. The trainees took their seats, the Albatross plotting it's course back to Menachite Mountain. Nobody spoke throughout the entire trip, as Jorge, Blaine, Lorelei, and Katherine looked among each other.

    Upon the Albatross' landing, the trainees piled out into the troop bay. Mendez and a pair of handlers stood at his side. With a nod of approval, he saluted them. Blaine, however, didn't feel like celebrating.

    "You two." Mendez said, pointing to Blaine and John. "Doctor Halsey and I would like to speak with you."

    Once again, John and Blaine found themselves being escorted to Halsey's office. Upon entering, Blaine and John through up a swift salute.

    "Doctor Halsey. Trainees One-one-seven and One-one-five would like to explain to you why they attacked and killed UNSC personnel, and why they stole the property that they were guarding."

    "With all due respect, Chief Mendez, sir." John said, turning to Blaine. "Trainee One-one-five wasn't the one that came up with the plan. I did. It's my fault."

    "I see, but why did you attack them?" Halsey asked, as Blaine stood at attention beside John.

    "Ma'am. The ship was UNSC, there was no doubt about it. The soldiers, however, were hostile and not in regulation uniform."

    "So, you flew home?" she asked, her eyes scanning between them.

    "Negative ma'am." John shook his head. "Well, not exactly. I rigged the auto-pilot to return home."

    "-and you brought all of them back?" Halsey asked, as Blaine stepped forward.

    "Regrettably ma'am, not everyone." Blaine sunk his head. "Trainee Oh-six-one perished during this exercise."

    "You mean he's still out there?" Halsey asked.

    "Negative, ma'am." Blaine clenched his right fist. "I was there when he died, ma'am."

    "We will discuss that in a moment, one-one-five." Halsey sighed. "John?"

    "According to orders, ma'am, the last trainee on board was ordered to walk home. Instead, we all stuck together. Like the Spartans at Thermopylae."

    "In the end of the real story, one-one-seven, the Spartans are betrayed and slaughtered. It is their sacrifice that actually saves and unites Greece."

    John paused for a moment, while Blaine tried to wrap his head around the true ending to the Battle of Thermopylae.

    "-but we had more options." John stated.

    "Those men you killed with rocks didn't." Mendez growled.

    "No sir, they did not." John nodded.

    The four stood in silence for a time. Blaine shifted a bit uncomfortably, in the time he had been standing there, he had only been spoken to once.  Did they have something else to speak to Blaine about? Or was it just to get to the bottom of the situation?

    Blaine didn't really know at that moment, but his stomach felt knotted and out of place. He couldn't get the picture of Butch falling down that mountain, or the terrified face of the soldier he killed out of his head.

    "Doctor, what do you suppose we do with these two?" Mendez said, standing, as Halsey placed a hand on her hip.

    "Well, Mendez, I suppose promotions are in order." Halsey said with a smile. "One-one-seven to Squad Leader, and One-one-five to second in command."

    John and Blaine turned to each other. Had they really just heard that right? They ruthlessly killed two soldiers, Butch had died on Blaine's watch, and they had stolen UNSC property, but they were getting a promotion?

    "Thank you, sir." John said, shaking Mendez's hand, Blaine following his lead. "Though, what's the highest rank I can attain?"

    "As a non-commissioned officer, one-one-seven, the highest rank you can attain is Master Chief Petty Officer."

    "Than I will." John nodded his head in respect.

    "On that, I am certain." Mendez said. "Your next mission won't be so easy, trainees, and there will be casualties. More than you've faced today."

    John and Blaine once again turned to each other, confused as to what that meant, exactly. Blaine stepped forward, speaking up.

    "Sir, what is that mission?" Blaine asked, as Mendez gazed his eyes over both of them, before looking at Halsey, and back to them.

    "Your mission, John, Blaine." Halsey spoke up. "Is to survive."

    A chill ran down Blaine's neck as he and John, once again, turned to look at each other. That, for certain, did not sound good.

    "Squad Leader, you are dismissed." Halsey said, leaving Blaine alone with her and Mendez. "One-one-five. I want to know what exactly happened to Oh-six-one."

    "Ma'am." Blaine said. "Oh-six-one had been going the wrong direction ma'am. We had decided to meet by the river upon insertion. When Butch didn't show up, the other members of Orange team and I became worried."

    Blaine stood rigid as he retold the tale, flinching as he pictured Butch backing off towards the cliff. Speaking of how he wanted to leave. Blaine left out the information where he claimed Mendez and Halsey had lied, Butch was dead, and he didn't wish to sully his name. Blaine explained how he had attempted to talk Butch down, and warn him of the cliff behind him.

    Blaine explained how Butch had slipped and Blaine had narrowly caught his hand. He explained how the only thing keeping him and Butch from going over was his right foot being caught in a rock formation. He retold them how Butch had handed him the map piece, and let go.

    While he had been recounting this, however, his eyes fell once again to the newspaper that Doctor Halsey and Jacob had been reading the day he met them. Now that he was closer and much more skilled at reading, he could easily see the headline.

    "Kid dead after tragic event at Orphanage!"

    Blaine's heart sunk in his chest. He had killed Zach that day? The knot in his stomach tightened further, actually beginning to effect his breathing. It became heavy and irregular.

    "Trainee, are you alright?" Halsey asked.

    "I killed people, ma'am." Blaine said. "I killed that kid, I killed that man, and I killed Butch."

    "You were young, and you were at your limit." Halsey assured him. "It's a terrible thing, but these things happen. It wasn't your fault. I heard your story, I know you on a personal level now One-one-five. The kid you killed was perceived as a threat, and you wanted to defend yourself."

    "I've trained you extensively for years now." Mendez added. "You are to kill Insurrectionists without hesitation. While it may be the man you killed today was not in fact Insurrection, you were following your orders, trainee."

    "All that being said, killing is a necessary evil now, Blaine." Halsey said. "It rids the world of bad people. Oh-six-one was not an evil or bad person, but it was an accident. There was no-one at fault there. Not you, not Butch, no-one."

    "Go take a rest, trainee." Mendez said. "The next stage of your training is near."



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 20th 2016, 5:14 am

    Author's note: Last one was a bit dialogue heavy, I know.

    Thankfully, we're nearing the end of the Spartan II training portion of the story. I hate having to rehash the events, but as a Spartan II character raised with the rest of them, I kinda have to.

    You might have wondered what in the world Morgan has been up to this entire time. The next update will likely focus on him to catch you up to speed on his side of the matter.

    Thanks for reading as always!

    Additional note: Due to the fact I've updated so frequently, and I don't want to overload you, I'll hold off for a day to give you or any other lurkers a chance to catch up.



    Thanks for Reading!

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    Post  Doctor Jensen on March 20th 2016, 5:35 pm

    Keep it up. And don't apologize for it being dialogue heavy. Brandon Sanderson writes a lot of books that are extremely dialogue heavy. A lot of the times I find it much better than action.
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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 20th 2016, 6:01 pm

    Thanks Jensen for the feedback. I just don't know if people mind dialogue heavy stuff or not. I like to make a even mixture, though I suppose the real action's coming soon.

    Thanks again!



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    Post  Manny on March 20th 2016, 6:56 pm

    It didn't feel dialogue heavy. Probably because Blaine didn't actually talk too much before hand. The story, as a whole, seems balanced so far in that regard.

    Not that dialogue is a bad thing, like Jensen pointed out.
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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 20th 2016, 8:47 pm

    Craig sighed, entering the barracks. Tasha Lowry's information from two years before was solid. Terrence Fletcher was still at large, but his movements were so unpredictable that Cobalt Squad couldn't keep up with him.

    Efforts to locate his base of operations had also proved to be futile, even after scanning each of the Outer Colonies with their highly advanced PROWLER ship. Sitting at his cot, he saw Morgan laying in his cot.

    A full beard had grown on his brother's chin, and his eyes had sunken astronomically. On the wall above his cot, the newspaper of his son's disappearance hung. Craig turned his eyes to his twin's brother's hands. It was Morgan and Amber's wedding photo.

    The New Alexandria police force had scoured the entirety of the city in search for Blaine, but nothing had popped up. The police extended the search to other city's police forces. Craig had just received the word today that none of the provinces on Reach, and the cities within, had seen Blaine anywhere.

    "He's dead." Morgan sighed, his eyes not leaving the picture. "It's been two years."

    "That's not true." Craig shook his head. "I know it's not what you want to hear, but he could have always gone off world. The bright side is I know he's alive. He's a Harlowe."

    "Harlowe's don't die on hospital beds, and we certainly don't die in the streets." Craig nodded. "He's out there somewhere Morgan. Phil and I've kept our ears to the ground, listening for anything on Waypoint pertaining to him. When we finally find him, you'll meet with him."

    "He's eight now." Morgan said. "Even if we do find him, what makes you think he'll want to see me? I've missed so much of his life already?"

    "You heard what that little girl said to you. He went out looking for you." Craig smiled. "He wants to see you, and he knows you're looking for him too."

    "Just hang in there." Craig said. "Let's focus on Terrence Fletcher, and then we can devote all of our time on finding your son."



    Blaine's fists clenched as multiple syringes inserted themselves into the folds of his arms, the sides of his legs, and his temples. With them, they distributed pure fire.

    Blaine's body shook erratically on his bed, convulsions stronger than a bucking bronco sent his torso popping up and off of the cot. Saliva foamed at the corners of his mouth, his teeth biting down heavily on the plastic guard in his mouth. His eyes were clenched shut, his head twisting right, then left.

    Heat spread across his face, torso, arms, and legs. His eyes felt as though a white-hot fire poker had stabbed through them. His eyes snapped open, scanning the room for any sort of assistance. To his right, he saw Halsey standing by John's side.

    Mendez, on the other hand, stood beside him. Blaine couldn't quite hear what Mendez was saying, but whatever it had been, Halsey walked over to him. She looked at the monitor beside Blaine, a sorrowful look on her face.

    Blaine's eyes turned to the monitor, which flashed red every now and again. Was he going to die? The tears in her eyes gave him the idea that was the case. Glaring at the ceiling, he clenched his right and left fists. His body protested at the motions, but he bit down on the plastic guard and cleared his mind.

    The pain was unbearable, but he wasn't going to give up. He had too many people that counted on him, and he wasn't going to die here. Using meditation practices that Déjà had taught them, he slowed his heart rate.

    Breathing hurt, in fact, most of his motions hurt him. However, he had to fight through the pain. He was not weak, he was not a quitter.

    "Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself every once in a while." Mr. Harlowe's words echoed at the back of his mind.

    Blaine's thoughts went back to that day at the Orphanage. Mr. Harlowe had brought him a slice of cake, wishing him a happy birthday. Though he couldn't remember Mr. Harlowe's face, Blaine remembered Mr. Harlowe coaching him on.

    Those same words that had helped him stand up to Charlie and Ms. Lowry. His fists clenched harder, the knuckles popping, as he sat up, his eyes snapping awake.

    "AGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Blaine roared in defiance, sitting up, causing Mendez and Halsey to take a step back. "CPO Mendez, sir. Permission to sleep?"

    "Granted, trainee." Mendez nodded. "Rest now."

    Bowing his head, Blaine smiled as he slowly sank his head back onto the pillow behind his head. His body was still on fire, but he wasn't going to give up, no matter what.


    It had been a week since Blaine's episode. Doctor Halsey had said they were being genetically augmented. In the week of recovery he had spent, he noticed there were even fewer trainees in their already small group.

    Although, small no longer matched the description of the pre-teens. At fourteen years of age, Blaine stood taller than most of the other trainees at an impressive six foot seven by imperial standards. Both him and Jorge were easily some of the biggest trainees in the group, with Sam falling just short of them.

    Some of the trainees, like Katherine and Kelly, traded muscle mass and height for speed. Lorelei was an interesting mixture, standing taller than Katherine, and with more muscular mass.

    It took the trainees some time to get used to their new bodies. Blaine remembered one week earlier, he couldn't even stand without assistance. It was like learning to walk all over again. He also noticed that his vision was much crisper, he could spot many things that not even Mendez or Doctor Halsey could, and he could hear far off things much clearer.

    "Trainees, we'll be holding a debriefing on board the UNSC Atlas's observation deck." Mendez paced in front of them. "Where we will formally say goodbye to the fallen."

    Blaine stood at attention, but his mood wasn't any brighter. Mendez and Halsey had told him and John six years ago to survive. He ran the math in his head. Of the seventy trainees going in for augmentation, thirty percent of them had died in augmentation.

    Those that didn't die were either washouts, like Serin Oh-one-nine, or they were combat ready, like Blaine. The trainees followed Mendez through the halls of the Atlas to the observation deck, the combat ready trainees carting the washouts via wheel chair. Stepping before them, Mendez folded his arms behind his back.

    "Duty, honor, self sacrifice." Mendez paused. "Death does not diminish these qualities in a soldier. We shall remember our fallen comrades. Honors, attention!"

    Blaine and the other cadets snapped to a crisp salute, as Blaine stared at the ejection pods containing their dead comrades. Red UNSC flags embroidered with golden frills lay over the pods.

    "We commit our fallen to space." Mendez finished, before snapping to a salute.

    In that moment, Blaine felt the Atlas jolt beneath their feet. Several pods were ejected out of the Atlas, looming through the abyss and towards the nearby star. As the cadets and Mendez released their salute, Blaine's head hung low.

    He had come to grow with those children, they weren't just friends. They were his brothers; his sisters. They were the family he never had as a kid. Jorge, Lorelei, and Katherine turned to the cadets in the wheelchairs sitting just before them.

    With a curt nod from Mendez, they were carted away by Jorge, Lorelei, and Katherine towards the vehicle bay. John and Blaine stayed behind, as Squad Leader's assistant, Blaine was charged with being present during a debriefing.

    "Where are you taking my men?" John asked, his eyes gazing towards the cadets in the wheelchairs.

    "Let them go, Squad Leader." Mendez clasped a hand on John's shoulder, who now stood a head taller than their trainer. "They can't fight anymore, they don't belong here."

    "Sir." Blaine stepped forward. "They are our comrades, our brothers and sisters."

    "I know, one-one-five." Mendez sighed. "I know."

    "What happens to them?" John asked.

    "The Navy takes care of it's own. Their minds are still sharp, and our war efforts can still use soldiers with less physical duties."

    Mendez, John, and Blaine turned to members of Blue team, John's team. They stood at the doorway, as Jorge, Lorelei, and Katherine returned to the observation deck.

    "Was there anything else, Squad Leader?" Mendez crossed his arms.

    "Sir, I'm Squad Leader. Members of my unit died." John folded his arms behind his back. "What should I have done to prevent that?"

    "One-one-seven." Mendez sighed. "John. What your class went through... that any of you survived at all? It is a testament to your strength."

    Mendez turned to Blaine, offering him a similar sentiment.

    "Trainees, walk with me." Mendez said, turning on his heels.

    Blaine and John followed Mendez through to the adjacent hallway. The ambient orange light of the star billowing into the hallway.

    "A leader must be ready to send the men under his command to their deaths." Mendez said, John and Blaine walking at his side. "You're duty is to the mission."

    "I'm sorry sir, but I fail to see how that applies to this situation."

    "A lesson in sacrifice." Mendez turned to the trainees. "It is acceptable to spend lives when necessary, trainees. What is not acceptable, is to waste said lives."

    "Which was this, sir?" John asked, turning to Blaine for support. "Spent lives, or wasted ones?"

    "Get some rest, cadets." Mendez sighed, defeated.

    With that, Mendez began to walk away, as Blaine and John took to the window. They watched the pods slowly float into the endless darkness that was the void of space.

    "I'm sorry, Squad Leader." Blaine said. "I feel every bit responsible as you do."

    To their right, they heard footsteps approaching. Blaine turned his head to look, as Sam entered the hall.

    "What did Mendez say?" Sam asked, causing John to turn.

    "Not much." John shook his head.

    "I'm gonna guess something about duty and sucking it up?"

    "That sounds nothing like him." John growled, before chuckling. "Like your owl."

    "That sounds exactly like him." Sam sighed. "Kels and I are going to the shooting range later, you in?"

    "No." John shook his head. "I'm hitting the gym."

    With that, John walked away in the direction Mendez had gone. Blaine stopped leaning against the windowsill to turn to Sam. Placing a hand on Sam's shoulder, Blaine excused himself and walked back to the observation deck. He needed to be in the company of his team right now.

    As he stepped into the room, Kelly, Linda, Fred, Jorge, Lorelei, and Katherine turned to face him. Shaking his head, Blaine approached.

    "Is Mendez angry, sir?" Linda asked.

    "No." Blaine sighed. "Maybe, I dunno. It's always hard to say with him, Linda."

    "What about Squad Leader?" Kelly asked.

    "He's hitting the gym. He's taken it the worst of all of us."

    Jorge straightened his back and rolled his shoulders, before crossing his arms.

    "Not really surprised about that." Jorge sighed. "Those are our brothers and sisters, and they're being shipped off to god knows where. After all we've been through, all that time with them, wasted."

    "It's out of our hands, Jorge." Blaine placed a hand on Jorge's shoulder. "We have to remember the good times we had with them, and celebrate those of us that are still alive."

    "Agreed." Katherine nodded.

    "I'm going to go to the shooting range. Anyone wanna join me?" Blaine asked, as Kelly, Katherine, and Lorelei nodded. "I'll meet you there then. I need to take a quick walk."

    Blaine walked past his fellow cadets and out of the observation deck. Walking down the hall, his head began to flow with thoughts of all those trainees that had passed, and what the fate of those that weren't combat ready was going to be.

    He had been so distracted, however, that he hadn't realized that he had run into a squad of ODSTs in full armor. From what Mendez had told him, ODSTs were the best of the best in the Marines. Spartans like Blaine were going to be better than the ODSTs, but were expected to act with respect towards the ODSTs.

    Blaine and the ODST grunted as they fell to the ground. Rolling up to his feet, Blaine grabbed his forehead. The man on the floor groaned, rubbing his nose. Blaine's chest had hit the man in his nose, and their collision had likely damaged it.

    "I'm sorry sir!" Blaine offered his hand, as the ODST swatted it aside.

    Cool blue eyes glared up at him, as the man's squad mates helped him up. One of the squad mates turned to Blaine, pointing at Blaine's chest.

    "Just who the hell do you think you are, kid?!" the man growled.

    "Sir, Cadet One-one-five, sir!"

    "Is this some kind of a prank?" the man Blaine had crashed into snarled. "What kind of name is one-one-five?"

    "Sir, it is the designation I was given, sir!"

    At that moment, Doctor Halsey walked around the corner. Blaine's eyes turned to her, a bit of relief on his shoulders.

    "Doctor Halsey, ma'am." Blaine saluted her.

    "One-one-five, what's going on here?" Halsey asked, before turning her eyes to the ODST without a helmet. "Who are you?"

    "I could ask ye the same question, doc." the man growled.

    "Doctor Catherine Halsey, ONI Section III."

    "She's a spook." the ODST that had prodded Blaine's chest whispered.

    "You." Halsey pointed to the ODST. "What is your name."

    "Corporal Joshua Durgin. 21st ODST Division. Operate under the SCORE directive." Josh sneered. "Maybe you at ONI have heard of us? Cobalt Squad?"

    "I've heard of you." Halsey said. "Is there a particular reason you are harassing this cadet?"

    "Ma'am. It was my fault." Blaine hung his head. "I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. I ran directly into the Warrant Officer and his squadron."

    "I see." Halsey said. "Where were you headed, cadet?"

    "The shooting range, ma'am." Blaine reported.

    "See to it that you get there without further incidents, cadet." Halsey said. "Go on."

    "Yes ma'am." Blaine said, turning to the bearded ODST. "Sorry again, sir."

    Walking past him, Doctor Halsey continued on her way. Blaine paid no further attention to the ODSTs, until he worked his way down the hall. In the corner of his eye, he could see the group of them following him.

    Walking into the shooting gallery, Blaine saw his fellow cadets taking pot shots at paper targets down range. Katherine had a few good clusters at the middle, but her target was much farther than Lorelei's had been. Lorelei's target was closer, within twenty five meters.

    Behind him, the door slid open, the ODSTs walking up behind him. One of them, which Blaine remembered called himself Joshua, placed his hands on the cadet's shoulders.

    "Target practice, cadet?" he sneered.

    "Sir, yes sir." Blaine nodded.

    "Well, we don't feel like forgiving you for running into our squad leader." Josh grit his teeth. "So how about you and I have a competition. Targets, fifty meters out. DMRs only. We use two full clips, person with the best marksmanship is the winner."


    "It's a challenge, numb nuts." Josh growled. "If you win, we'll forgive you. If I win, you have to buy us dinner. All of us."

    The other cadets turned to the scene, as Jorge clenched his fists. Katherine, Lorelei, Sam, and Kelly pulled him aside. Blaine turned to them, as they cleared the way for them.

    "Sir, I'll take your challenge, sir." Blaine nodded, as Josh pat him on the back.

    "Good boy."

    The two walked over to their respective stalls, pulling DMRs off of the weapon rack. Blaine and the man grabbed their two clips apiece, and approached their shelves.

    "Gentlemen." one of the ODSTs said. "I'll be your referee for this challenge. You must fire both entire clips of your DMRs into the target, which has been set to fifty meters. When you have fired both of your clips, you will put down your weapons and pull your targets forward."

    "Marksmanship will be determined by the clusters on the target. Firing within the same hole repeatedly will count in your favor. You must fire at least one confirmed headshot, and your clusters are to be center of mass."

    Blaine and Josh quickly slapped a clip into their rifles, shouldering them. On the ODST's count, they began. Blaine fired his entire clip into it's midsection. To his left, he could still hear Josh firing his first clip. Dropping his empty magazine to the floor, Blaine noticed that time seemed to have slowed around him

    The sensation was odd, but he smacked the new magazine into the rifle. Shouldering it, time returned to normal as he fired all but one round into the midsection of the target. His vision snapped to the head of the target, and he fired his final bullet.

    Placing his rifle down, Blaine pulled his target in close. To his left, he heard Josh firing off the remainder of his magazine. Blaine had been quick, but that didn't mean Josh didn't have a fighting chance. Pulling the target off, Blaine grinned at his handy work. Two massive clusters in the midsection of the target.

    The multitude of twenty nine bullets had made to massive holes in the 'gut' of the target, with a nice little hole in the forehead. The ODST looked at the target with wide eyes.

    "Holy shit." he shook his head in disbelief. "That's some fine shooting cadet, but it's still too early to tell."

    Josh pulled his target back, but Blaine could see a few places where Josh had released his grip a bit. There had been some holes on the shoulders of the target, one in the forehead, and the rest in the midsection.

    In comparison, Blaine's target was the winner. Every one of his bullets hit one of two zones inside of the midsection, as was apparent by the size of the holes. With the one bullet in the forehead.

    "The cadet wins." the ODST shrugged, as Josh fumed.

    "You think you're smug. huh, kid?" Josh growled, turning to Blaine, who stared at his target in amazement.

    "No sir." Blaine saluted him. "I'm just as amazed as your squad-mate, sir."

    "Lay off Josh. You lost fair and square." the last ODST said. "Fine shooting cadet. All is forgiven, as promised."

    "Screw you Craig!" Josh turned, fists clenched. "I'm the marksman on this team! I'm not going to be bested by some snot nosed brat!"

    "You already were, dumbass." Craig crossed his arms. "Drop it and let's go, before they close the weight room?"

    Blaine watched as the ODSTs walked away. His fellow cadets walked up behind him, watching as the ODSTs left the room.

    "What was all that about?" Jorge asked, as Blaine shrugged.

    "I ran into them on the way here." Blaine scratched the back of his head. "I apologized, but that one, Josh, just couldn't let it go."

    "Did you see that one bozo with a beard?" Sam scoffed. "Mendez would have a fit if he was that man's superior."


    "That kid ain't human." Josh scoffed, fists clenched. "Humanity discovered aliens years ago, and that kid is one of them!"

    "Or you got cocky." Phil chuckled. "Relax, you're still the best shot on the team when it comes to mid-long range."

    Craig couldn't help but look at Morgan, whose eyes scanned the floor in a mixture of disbelief and confusion.

    "Something on your mind?" Craig asked, causing Phil and Josh to turn.

    "That cadet." Morgan frowned. "He's about the age Blaine should be."

    "C'mon Morgan." Josh sighed. "Blaine's gone, man. That kid was about twenty, your son should be fourteen. Not every young kid is your son, man."

    "Likewise," Phil placed a hand on his shoulder. "He may have had black hair and blue eyes, but so do a lot of people these days. You've heard of that upcoming Lieutenant, Jacob Keyes? He's got black hair and blue eyes. That Doctor Halsey also had black hair and blue eyes."

    "Doesn't mean Blaine is dead, guys." Craig growled. "Blaine is out there, and we're going to find him. We're close to cornering Terrence Fletcher, it's been a long time coming, so we need to focus on him first."

    "I don't trust that Tasha Lowry chick." Craig continued. "I feel like she handed Blaine off to someone in the Insurrection, and faked being knocked out. If we find Terrence Fletcher, there's a good chance we could find Blaine."

    The four ODSTs passed through the observation deck, as a pair of medics walked past, with a pair of gurneys. On the gurneys were a pair of body bags.

    "What the hell happened?" Craig asked one of the men.

    "Fight broke out in the weight room. Killed two, maimed one." one of the medics said. "I wouldn't want to piss the guy responsible off. It's off limits."

    "Well fuck." Josh sighed. "Here we are with some downtime, and we still can't do anything."

    "You try the shooting range? One of a kind, only found on the Atlas." the medic asked, as Josh glared at him.

    "Don't you have somewhere to be, asshole?"



    Thanks for Reading!

    Database Director

    Posts : 1242
    Join date : 2013-01-16
    Age : 24

    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 21st 2016, 1:07 am

    Blaine and the members of Orange Team stood with their hands folded behind their backs. Each and every one of them had heard of Squad Leader killing a pair of ODSTs in the weight room. Blaine couldn't blame him, if they were anything like the ODSTs he had encountered at the same time, they would have been perceived as a threat.

    John was a by the book kind of soldier, and his orders were to watch out for himself and the other Spartans. When those ODSTs attacked, they didn't just attack John, in John's mind, they had attacked his Spartans. It did not make the pain of killing fellow UNSC personnel any lesser, but it was a necessary evil, or so Mendez had said.

    At that very moment, Blue Team had been charged with the collection of an ex UNSC Colonel turned Insurrection. As for Blaine and his members of Orange Team, they were about to be briefed.

    "Cadets." Mendez folded his arms behind his back. "Doctor Halsey believes that you are ready for a real life combat scenario. It just so happens, that the UNSC has been dealing with an unprecedented issue within the Eposz region in New Alexandria."

    "Cadet One-one-five. Front and center." Mendez spoke, as Blaine stepped forward. "Orange Team will be deployed in secrecy, into the heart of the city. A late known Insurrectionist affiliate, Tasha Lowry, had given some information to ONI a few years back in regards to the Insurrection on Reach."

    Blaine remained stiff, at the mention of Ms. Lowry he felt a wave of heat forming at the back of his eyes. Doctor Halsey seemed to notice this, flicking him a knowing smile.

    "She gave a name to the leader of this branch of Insurrection. Terrence Fletcher." Mendez said, as a hologram of the man appeared before them. "He is, at this moment, seemingly untouchable. He has imports from all around the Outer Colonies. This includes food supply, water, luxuries, arms, and even personnel."

    "As Déjà has taught you cadets in the past, if you bite the head off the snake, the body will die." Mendez continued. "Unfortunately, this snake is more of a hydra. In order to kill the hydra, you must cut out it's heart."

    "That's where you come in, cadets." Mendez said. "Your target is an executive of Lethbridge Industrial's branch on Reach. He is a known conspirator of the Insurrectionist movement, and his supplies go directly to Fletcher."

    "Simon DeWinter is your target. You're goal is to bring him alive if you can." Mendez said. "Secondary objective is to locate a shipping manifest, so that we can cross reference it with our friends in ONI. We locate an irregularity-"

    "We find Fletcher, sir." Blaine nodded.

    "Precisely, cadet." Mendez smirked. "Lethbridge Headquarters for the Reach branch is located in the heart of the city. As such, you will not be permitted firearms without alerting the local police. We will be setting you down on the outskirts of town. You will be put under the disguise of a group of college students that are interested in taking up careers at Lethbridge Industrial."

    "You will use that disguise to infiltrate the headquarters. Do not engage unless strictly necessary." Mendez said. "Though I dislike sending you in without firearms, you will be provided with pocket sized tasers. They will stun, not kill, anyone you touch with it."

    "You have your orders, cadets." Mendez continued. "Dismissed."

    Blaine saluted Mendez, as the other members of his squad followed suit. Turning on their boots, they marched out the door.

    "Is it really wise to send him back to New Alexandria, Doctor?" Mendez asked, when he was certain the cadets were out.

    "I would much rather Blaine gets closure for his past, than to let him stew in it." Halsey replied. "His squad are loyal to him, but he is also loyal to them. Blaine won't leave them."


    Blaine sat towards the back of the transport Pelican. To authenticate the disguise, the four trainees were given clothes that matched the average young adult in today's society. They felt foreign on Blaine's body, like he was wearing a thin layer of itching powder.

    More importantly, he was worried, not about passing by the old Orphanage. He was more worried about the mission ahead. They weren't given weapons, and while he was confident in the other members of his team, there was only so much one could do in a gun fight with a knife.

    "Sir, are you okay?" Lorelei asked, as Blaine turned to her.

    "I'm fine." he smiled. "It's just bizarre to be back home, is all."

    "Say that again, Baratom." Jorge said. "New Alexandria's close to Visegrad. Where I grew up."

    "That reminds me." Blaine turned to his team. "No more 'sir' while we're on the clock. It will sound awfully suspicious if a group of four 'college students' are referring to each other in a militaristic way."

    "Don't worry." Blaine smirked. "I won't be upset."

    The transport Pelican descended onto a landing pad to the southern section of the city. Stepping off, the four trainees glanced around. The sad truth was, no amount of training could ever get them into the societal norms of civilian life.

    Blaine took a fresh breath in, as the four walked together towards the north. Lorelei and Katherine's eyes were wide with astonishment. They had never been to this city before. Katherine once told him she was from Harvest, while Lorelei hailed from Sigma Octanus IV.

    "Bro!" a young man, several years older than them approached. "You like the New Alexandrian Guerras too?!"

    He looked to Blaine, who was confused for a moment, until he remembered that was the shirt he was wearing.

    "Hell yeah, bro." Blaine said. "Best team in the league!"

    "Right on, right on!" the man nodded. "You from New Alexandria?"

    "Yep." Blaine nodded. "Not my friends here, though. We got to a technical school on Ganymede."

    "Right on." the man smirked. "Lived here all my life. You guys look a little lost, maybe I can help you out?"

    Blaine looked at the others, who all were tense and confused. The young man seemed to notice this, bobbing his head in understanding.

    "Bros, I get it. You're the kind of people that don't want to rely on others." he smiled. "At least let me escort you to the epicenter of the city. Who knows, you might find what you're looking for there."

    Holding his hand out, what better way to blend in than to have a tour guide? The members of Orange Team followed Blaine and the young man down the street. Blaine knew this street, and upon looking to his left, he saw the red maple tree that he had spent the night in.

    "So Ganymede, huh." the man said, trying to strike up conversation. "What's the Inner Colonies like? Full of rich pricks, I'd imagine?"

    "You know it." Blaine chuckled nervously. "Nothing like us here though."

    "Ain't that the truth, dude." he said. "I mean, I've been known to be a prick, but not as much as an Inner Colony dickhead."

    As they continued down the street, they were led to the courtyard, in the heart of the city. All around them, a multitude of businesses were located in the wide circle around them. Blaine's eyes, however, fell upon one place.

    "Oh that place?" the man asked. "Odd that you came all this way for an Orphanage."

    "No no." Blaine said, rubbing the back of his head. "I used to live there."

    "No kidding." the man frowned. "I used to live there too."

    Blaine turned his attention to the young man, who looked up at him.

    "Once I hit eighteen, they kicked my ass to the curb." he says. "Course, it wasn't until I started living on my own did I realize how much of a prick I was to people."

    "Charlie." Blaine said, as the man looked up at him, shocked.

    "Yeah." he said, searching Blaine's face. "Oh my god. It's you, Blaine."

    Jorge, Katherine, and Lorelei tensed at Blaine's mentioning of Charlie, who he had told them numerous times of his nature. Thankfully, Charlie hadn't noticed that.

    "I suppose I owe you an apology, like, a massive one." Charlie rubbed the back of his head. "So, uh, I'm really sorry, dude. I know that won't cut it, I was a real dick to you, but, uh, I saw the errors of my ways."

    "Still." Charlie continued. "It got you out of New Alexandria and to college, and it looks like you have a good amount of friends. So I guess my kid self can eat his words."

    Blaine really didn't know how to respond. This was the kid that had harassed him for several years, who had relentlessly caused him physical and emotional harm. He was the reason why Blaine eventually left, and why Blaine was standing here as a Spartan, and not with his real dad.

    On one side, he wanted to forgive Charlie, but on the other, he wanted to rip the bastard's heart out. Charlie seemed to notice the mixture of emotions.

    "I get it. I did some real bad shit to you, Blaine." Charlie bowed his head. "I don't expect forgiveness, I'm just happy I actually had the chance to apologize to you."

    Charlie turned his head towards the Orphanage, as a pair of the inhabitants gazed out the window at them. Looking back up to Blaine, Charlie frowned.

    "If you have a moment, I think there are a few people that'd like to see you."

    Blaine turned to the window, a young teen about their age, peering out at them. Behind the desk, a woman with platinum hair in a bun looked up through small spectacles. Jorge stepped forward, placing a hand on Blaine's shoulder.

    "Can we have a moment?" Jorge asked, as Charlie bowed out. "What about the mission?"

    "The mission doesn't start until we get inside." Blaine whispered back. "I need to let them know I'm okay. This is my ONLY chance."

    Jorge nodded with a grin, respecting his decision. Katherine, Lorelei, and Jorge followed Blaine, who followed Charlie to the front door.

    "Ms. Sanders?" Charlie said, opening the front door. "You'll never believe what the Moa dragged in."

    Walking to his left, Charlie allowed Blaine to step forward. One of the teens, around Blaine's age, dropped the broom in her hands. Ms. Sanders stood, gently pulling the glasses off of her face.

    "Blaine?" she asked, tears flowing down her cheek. "Is it really you?"

    Blaine smiled, as she hurried over towards him. Wrapping her arms around him, the two sunk to their knees. Blaine placed his hand on the back of Ms. Sander's head as gently as he could.

    "Where did you go, Blaine?" she asked. "Why did you leave?"

    "I had to." Blaine replied. "I had to find Mr. Harlowe."

    "He looked everywhere for you, are you saying you found him?"

    "Not exactly." Blaine said, attempting to change the subject. "I'm going to college now. Out in Ganymede."

    "Good." she sobbed. "You have no idea how happy I am to see you, Blaine."

    "I'm happy to see you too, Ms. Sanders." Blaine chuckled. "I figured I'd stop by and let you know I'm doing okay."

    "You must be." Ms. Sanders pulled herself, wiping an eye free. "You're fourteen and already in college. You have to be a genius for that to happen."

    "I learned from the best." Blaine smirked, before his eyes turned to the teen standing beside them.

    Blaine stood, his eyes never leaving the girls, before he towered over her. Tears filled her eyes, as she looked up to him. Blaine knew instantly who this was.

    "Lucy, I-"

    Wrapping her arms around him, she cried onto his shirt, as he returned the hug.

    "Shut up." she cried. "Don't you know I missed you? I thought we were best friends forever?"

    "We still are, aren't we?" Blaine asked, as she looked up at him.

    She smiled, before exploding into full out laughter.

    "Even after all these years, you're still a goof!" she giggled. "Of course we are!"

    "Blaine. Our meeting?" Katherine said, stepping forward.

    "Right." Blaine nodded, before easing Lucy off of him. "Field trip for class. I'm sorry to cut this short, but we need to go."

    "W-wait!" Lucy said. "Can we at least have a picture?"

    Blaine thought about it for a moment. They weren't allowed to take pictures, just like they weren't allowed to tell people what they were.

    "Sorry," Blaine shook his head. "I really don't have the time. I have a tight schedule to follow."

    "I understand." Ms. Sanders said. "It was good to see you again, Blaine. Please don't hesitate to write to us."

    "B-but-" Lucy stammered.

    "I'll see you again." Blaine smiled. "One day, I promise."

    With that, Orange Team filed out of the Orphanage. Charlie followed them outside, before offering a hand.

    "It was good to see you again, Blaine." Charlie said. "I, uh, was afraid that you were dead, so, it's good to know I didn't get you killed."

    "Yeah." Blaine said.

    With that, they located Lethbridge Industrial's corporate office for the Reach branch. It was just down the street from the Orphanage. As they walked along, Katherine tapped him on the shoulder.

    "You good?" she asked, as Blaine nodded.

    "Actually, I'm a lot better." Blaine smiled. "Sorry to drag you guys through that."

    "You kidding?" Jorge asked. "Meeting the fabled Charlie, Lucy, and Ms. Sanders? It was like meeting a real-life super hero."

    "Good, with no more distractions. We can get this done. Lorelei, you have the rear, I'll take point."

    The others nodded as the automatic doors opened. A woman sat behind the desk, clacking away at the keyboard directly in front of her. Her eyes rarely left the monitor in front of her, if only to peek at the four trainees that had entered the room.

    Orange Team approached, as she continued clacking away. After a moment, she turned to face them.

    "Hello, and welcome to Lethbridge Industrial's corporate office for the Reach branch." she smiled. "How may I help you today?"

    "Good morning." Blaine nodded. "My name is Joseph Sanders, my colleagues and I are from the University of Ganymede? We're here for the tour of the corporate office?"

    "A tour?" she asked. "Mr. DeWinter didn't mention anything about a tour."

    "Oh." Blaine frowned. "Our instructor, Carl Mendez, said he had sent a  message on Waypoint to this facility. We're in the financial services class at our University, and were assigned to take a tour of a corporate office?"

    "Huh." the woman clicked the tip of her tongue to the roof of her mouth. "One moment please, I'll double check."

    Blaine and the others looked among each other. Jorge was visibly tense. Blaine gave him a look that signaled for him to calm down. After a few taps on the virtual keyboard in front of the woman, she looked back up at them.

    "Oh, here it is!" she said. "I guess I missed it. Sorry about that."

    "Doctor Carl Mendez?" she asked, as Blaine nodded his head.

    "Yes ma'am, that's our professor."

    "Well, we're pretty ill prepared." she sighed. "Um. I suppose I can give you students a quick tour. Please, follow me."

    Pulling a mobile ear-piece from her desk, she fastened it to her right ear.

    "You'll have to excuse me, I'll be expected to take any calls."

    "By all means." Blaine nodded. "We're here for the full experience. Even if our studies are on finance."

    With that, the secretary led them throughout the corporate office. Around them, men and women sat inside of small cubic offices with open doors. Several of them had what appeared to be blueprints for weapons, military medical supplies, and armor.

    "This is the main floor. Here, our employees develop and jot down basic prototypes for use at our manufacturing plants around known UNSC space."

    "Wow." Katherine said, gazing at the multitude of people. "That's incredible."

    "If I'm honest, I think it's boring." the tourist giggled. "Though I guess that's why I'm a secretary huh?"

    The trainees remained silent, unaware that she was attempting to joke.

    "Anyway, moving on we have the financial district." she said, pointing to a group of employees clacking away. "These employees are our branches personal Accountant and Finance managers."

    "Cool." Lorelei said. "They must be pretty busy."

    "Lethbridge Industrial is one of the biggest heads in weapon and arms manufacturing for the UNSC and even local law enforcement agencies." the secretary said. "You could say that busy is an understatement."

    As they continued, the small office space slowly dwindled down to a lone hallway. On either side was a restroom for both genders.

    "Excuse me ma'am." Katherine spoke up. "May I use the restroom?"

    The secretary stopped, turning to face them.

    "Um, sure. We'll be just down the hall to the right." she replied. "That's the break room."

    Katherine nodded to the others, as she opened the door and entered. What the secretary didn't know, is that each of the trainees had their own ear-pieces, though they were inside of the lobe. Blaine could hear her searching the bathroom for company.

    "Katherine here, olly olly oxen free."

    Blaine rubbed the side of his ear. The others flinched, but it was the only option he had to silently acknowledge her. Following the secretary down the hallway, the three remaining members of Orange Team entered the break-room with the secretary.

    "Speaking?" she suddenly said. "Oh, I see. Um, is he okay?"

    Blaine and the others could hear Katherine in their ears, who had called the office. She was to act as the distraction so that the tour-guide, who they knew was bound to be the secretary, would leave them to their own devices.

    "Oh, it's b-bad you say?" the secretary stammered, placing the tablet down on the table in a hurry. "I-I'll be right there!"

    "I'm sorry, I- uh, have something urgent to attend to." she started to cry. "It's a family emergency. Please, see yourselves out. I'm coming Rocky!"

    Running out the door and back down the hall. Blaine sighed with relief. He had been afraid that Katherine's voice wasn't going to be convincing enough. Blaine had fabricated a lie for her during briefing, in the off chance they needed the tour-guide to leave.

    Katherine had told the woman that they received the number for her from the victim. Katherine kept it vague enough for the ditsy woman to deduce her own tragedy.

    "Alright, good job." Blaine said. "Lorelei, get into that pad. Shut down the cameras and place them on a loop from ten minutes ago."

    "Katherine, I saw an emergency stair case in the hall, just a few meters from the bathroom. Take it to the roof, find us a means of escape." Blaine said. "We're not going to drag the target through the front door."

    "Jorge, I want you on watch. I'm going in to the target's office to apprehend him. If things go south, you are to come in for support. If anyone approaches you, tell them that I'm interviewing their executive for the paper." Blaine said. "Keep anyone off of Lorelei, if necessary, understood?"

    "You got it, bro." Jorge chuckled.

    Blaine stood, pulling a butter knife from the drawer. With a quick inspection of the nearest trash can, Blaine took a tin wrapper for gum and wrapped it to the blunt knife. Jorge and Blaine stepped out into the hallway, while Blaine turned to the executive's office.

    Surely enough, the door had a magnetic lock that could only be opened by the secretary, or the executive himself.

    "Sir, I'm in position. I see a lone transport Falcon up here."

    "Then that's our ticket out. Secure it if necessary." Blaine whispered. "Radio silent until further notice."

    "Affirmative. I see another entrance up ahead. Likely a panic escape route for our mark." Katherine reported.

    Rubbing his finger along his ear, Blaine stuck the knife in the crack between the doors. As he had expected, the metallic interference from the foil and the knife disrupted the magnetic lock just long enough to open the door.

    Sticking the knife in his pocket, Blaine opened the door stepping inside. A short squat man sat behind his desk. He had a balding scalp, with his only salt and pepper hair forming a ring around the sides and back of his head.

    "Who are you?"

    "I'm a student from Ganymede University." Blaine said. "I'm in the financial management course, and I was wondering if you had time to answer a few questions?"

    "How'd you get in here?" he stammered, reaching for his desk.

    "Your secretary let me in, sir." Blaine said. "I only need a moment of your ti-"

    Blaine knew there was likely a panic button beside the man, and that was what he was reaching for. Either that, or a side-arm. Either way, before Blaine's mind could catch up to his body, he fished the knife from his pocket.

    Throwing it at DeWinter's face, he watched as it traveled through the air in slow motion towards the target. Following up the knife, Blaine charged towards DeWinter. It was then that he saw the glint from the side-arm. Surely enough, his knife struck DeWinter in the forehead, enough to knock his head back and stun him.

    Sliding on his knees, Blaine grabbed one of the chairs in front of DeWinter's desk. Throwing the chair at DeWinter's face, the executive toppled over. Blaine vaulted over the table, knocking the pistol to the side as he did so.

    DeWinter growled as he struggled to stand. Blaine drove his knee into the target's chest, hearing a few ribs crack as a result. Gripping the man by his left shoulder, Blaine thrusted a short, yet sweet punch into the man's chin.

    He heard the man's jaw break, but it wasn't enough to kill him. He'd have plenty of time to heal later. DeWinter slumped in his arms, Blaine scooping him up and onto his shoulder.

    "Target acquired. Lorelei, destroy all footage of us entering the facility. Then proceed to loop the footage. Once you're done, meet Katherine and I on the roof." Blaine said. "Jorge, you too."

    There was a cringing crackle in his ears, indicating that both Jorge and Lorelei acknowledged his orders. Scanning around, he saw an ornate wooden door to his right. Blaine reached down and picked up the knife, before making his way over to the door, he kicked it open. Surely enough, it was the executive stairwell, in case he needed a quick escape.

    Climbing the stairs with a full grown man on one's shoulders should have been difficult for Blaine. However, he was appalled with just how easy it had been for him. Kicking the door to the roof open, Blaine hurried his way over to the Falcon.

    Jorge and Lorelei hurried over as well, while Blaine tossed the target carelessly into the back. Lorelei had opted to keeping the tablet, in case anyone in the facility could get their fingerprints.

    "Did anyone see you?" Blaine asked.

    "Negative." Jorge said. "Lorelei and I were on watch during the tour, no-one even looked at us."

    "Good." Blaine nodded. "Jorge, restrain the target. Katherine, Lorelei, hop in."

    Orange Team mounted up, as Blaine hopped into the pilot's seat of the Falcon. He had piloted them before, as trained by Mendez and a few pilots at CASTLE. Flicking up a few switches, he placed the pilot's helmet on his head.

    The HUD on the helmet came to life, as he swapped it to the private channel with Mendez he had been given.

    "Chief Mendez, sir." Blaine said, the engines roaring to life. "One-one-five reporting. Target is acquired, moving to rendezvous in hostile Falcon."

    "Excellent work cadet. Mendez replied. "Were you spotted?"

    "Negative sir, besides the secretary and the target himself sir."

    "Acknowledged. Mendez out."

    Blaine sighed when the line cut. He knew he would have to tell Halsey and Mendez of his visit to the Orphanage when they returned. Halsey always seemed to know what was going on, and he had no doubts it would happen here.

    As the Falcon exited the city, Blaine brought his attention to the city scape behind him. It was the second time he had seen this view. At least this time, he actually got to say goodbye, in a way. As time went on, Blaine brought the Falcon down in the middle of a plain, several klicks out of New Alexandria.

    There, he could see an Albatross waiting for them. Mendez had been standing there, with a large onyx tube in his hands. Blaine identified the weapon as an M41 SPNKR surface to surface rocket system. Climbing out of the Falcon, Blaine watched as the other members of Orange Team joined him. Jorge had DeWinter wrapped over his shoulder.

    "Well done, Orange Team." Mendez applauded them, stepping forward. "There is only one thing left to do, cadet."

    Handing Blaine the SPNKR, Blaine turned to the Falcon. There was no doubt in his mind that a higher up like DeWinter would have a tracker in it. That being said, he knew what Mendez wanted him to do.

    "Stand clear of the exhaust end!" Blaine barked, checking over his shoulder.

    Behind him, Orange Team and Mendez stepped back, while Blaine fired a lone rocket into the hull of the Falcon's cockpit. He had left the helmet inside as he had exited, just to be sure. Crimson and orange fire erupted as the Falcon exploded with an impressive bang. Flicking the safety on, Blaine handed it back to Mendez.

    "One-one-five. You will be debriefed for this mission when we return. The rest of you are free to spend the day as you choose."


    "One-one-five?" Halsey asked, as Blaine and Mendez entered her office aboard the Atlas.

    "Doctor Halsey, one-one-five ready to report, ma'am." Blaine saluted, as she waved him down.

    "Your team handled the mission exemplary, one-one-five." Halsey commended him. "We've taken the liberty of apprehending the secretary. She was a witness, and will be relocated back into civilization later."

    "The reason I've brought you here, however, is because of what happened in New Alexandria." Halsey said. "One-one-five. Did you go to the Orphanage?"

    "Yes ma'am." Blaine said. "An old acquaintance of mine at the Orphanage intercepted my team and I before the mission started."

    "Yes, Charlie, if I'm not mistaken?" Halsey asked, as Blaine nodded. "Though I do not recall him forcing you to go?"

    "No ma'am. I went on my own accord, ma'am." Blaine said. "I informed all witnesses involved that I was a student in college, as was my disguise for the mission."

    "-and if they discover you lied? What then?" Halsey asked.

    "I-I have no words, ma'am. I was careless."

    "On the contrary, one-one-five. You weren't careless, you went because you cared too much." Halsey replied.

    Blaine drooped his head, he was waiting for the punishment to come. Was he to be stripped of his rank? Was he going to be replaced as head of Orange Team?

    "I have a pair of questions for you, one-one-five." Halsey asked. "Did you get your closure? Is your heart and soul at ease now?"

    Blaine looked up to her, eye bright and relieved.

    "Yes ma'am. It meant the world for me to see them again, to know they were alive and well." Blaine saluted. "To finally say goodbye, ma'am."

    "Good." Halsey said. "Now I want all of your attention on the mission ahead. No more distractions, understood?"

    "Ma'am, yes ma'am!" Blaine said.

    "Dismissed, cadet."



    Thanks for Reading!

    Database Director

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 21st 2016, 4:22 am

    Blaine and the other members of Orange Team were surprised as, not too long after their capturing of Simon DeWinter, they were hailed to the amphitheater on board the Atlas. The cadets hustled down the hall, linking up with the other cadets from various other squads.

    The filed into the theater, Halsey, Mendez, and a man in a dark blue uniform stood in the center of the stage. The cadets made their way to their seats across the room, split apart by fragmented teams.

    "What's this then?" Jorge whispered, leaning towards Blaine. "Insurrectionists retaliating?"

    "I dunno." Blaine whispered back. "Whatever it is, it's not good. Look at the mark on his neck. Admiralty."

    "Settle down, Spartans." the man stepped forward. "I'm Vice Admiral Stamford."

    Behind Admiral Stamford was a projection of a Planet. The cadets glanced over it for a moment, while Blaine's eyes fell upon Katherine. She stared at the projection for a time, and Blaine had no questions; it was Harvest, her homeworld.

    "For those of you that don't know, this is Harvest." Stamford said. "Population of three million. A peaceful and productive farming colony"

    "On February third, at fourteen-twenty three hours. The Harvest Orbital platform made contact with this object."

    As he spoke, the projection changed from the spherical planet of Harvest, into what appeared to be a vase shaped ship with a curly beard. Stamford's eyes peered over all of the Spartans, before he hesitated.

    "After that, all contact with Harvest was lost." Stamford replied.

    Blaine's eyes widened, as he and the others in his squad turned to Katherine. Tears flowed in her eyes and down her cheeks, as she silently shook. Blaine placed a hand gently, yet reassuringly on her shoulder.

    "Command assembled a battle group, led by Admiral Cole, to Harvest. What they found-" Stamford paused. "Was all that was left of Harvest. Three million casualties were reported."

    Katherine's sobs became harder and harder, while Blaine's hand remained there. She placed her left hand on her right shoulder, covering his hand.

    "The colony was burned to ash. With power unseen by Humanity. Then, they encountered this;" behind Stamford, a projection of the object vase shaped object appeared again. "A star-ship of unknown origin. It destroyed the Vastock and the Arabia in under a minute using highly advanced weapon systems and impenetrable shielding."

    "The Heracles managed to escape via Slip-space with substantial damage and brought this intel back." Stamford continued, pacing. "They have shown that they will not negotiate. They will not communicate. They cannot be reasoned or bartered with."

    Stamford stopped his pacing, before turning full body to the Spartans again. The Spartans shifted nervously in their seat. The Insurrection was bad, but this was likely the end of Humanity itself. Blaine stared at Stamford, waiting for him to continue.

    "Humanity will continue to fight. We've already seen that the blunt force of a Fleet just won't cut it. Instead, we need the surgical precision of a scalpel." Stamford said. "You Spartans are that scalpel."

    "We received a message before the attack, in UEG based language. Beowulf, play the message." Stamford grunted.

    Blaine couldn't make out just what he was looking at. It appeared to be a pine tree shaped silhouette against a blue backdrop. The only source of lighting came from behind the creature in the video. He could make out the red coloration of cloth, and gold fixed to what could only be it's headdress.

    "Humans. Your destruction is the will of the Gods." a raspy voice of what sounded like an elderly man echoed throughout the theater. "-and we? We are their instrument."

    Blaine's right fist clenched tightly as he stared at the still video recording in front of them. Humanity's first interaction with aliens in recorded history, and they wanted to enact genocide without getting to know them.

    It reminded him of Ms. Lowry, her unadulterated hatred of him, solely because his parents were UNSC. Only the aliens were Ms. Lowry, and the whole of Humanity was him. For that, they were going to pay, for every person they killed, he would kill ten. For every member of Katherine's old family, he would kill one hundred.


    "Shit's going to hell in a hand basket, Morgan." Craig sighed. "You see that leaked video from the Heracles?"

    "I know I did." Josh said. "Fuckin' aliens man. Burned the crops."

    "Nice." Phil scoffed, walking to his cot. "Three million people die, and you make a pun. Real classy, Josh."

    "We need to focus on Fletcher." Morgan said. "The Atlas's top teams managed to get one of his lieutenants. Simon DeWinter, presented arms to the Insurrection, first class. We're very close to getting that bastard, and when we do, I'm finding my son."

    "-and the aliens?" Craig asked, flipping his combat knife, sheath and all, in his hands.

    Morgan clenched his fists, sitting up from his cot.

    "God help 'em if they get in my way." Morgan growled.


    Not too long after their meeting with Admiral Stamford, the Spartans were loaded into a pair of Pelican drop ships. Doctor Halsey herself was accompanying them. Blaine had been in one Pelican with Orange and Blue team, while Red and Green team took the other one.

    "Chi Ceti IV." Halsey said. "Is where the next stage of your training begins, Spartans."

    "Ma'am?" John asked. "What's down there?"

    "Project MJOLNIR, John." Doctor Halsey smiled.

    Blaine's eyebrows lifted in confusion. In Norse mythology, which Déjà had taught them extensively alongside Greek, Mjolnir was the name of Thor; the God of Thunder's hammer. Built with the weight of a thousand suns, only the purest of hearts could lift it.

    Shaking the thought from his head, he focused on the immediate situation. One of those bogeys from the briefing with Stamford had been seen at the edge of the system. It had performed an inter-system jump, which at the time seemed neigh impossible. Unfortunately for the Commonwealth, the ship that they had shifted to, it wasn't.

    Blaine had remembered seeing the ship for himself as it passed by the Commonwealth. It was a deep purple, and closer resembled a thinner, narrower flatfish. The alien ship had opened fire with plasma weaponry, something yet again thought to be impossible to produce.

    These aliens, this Covenant, had attacked the ship without hesitation, just as Stamford had mentioned. Even when the Commonwealth returned fire, their Archer missiles had no effect on the ship. Not even a MAC, or even a Havoc Nuclear device.

    Shortly after the Pelicans breached the surface, they were hailed.

    "Damascus Materials Testing Facility to unidentified space craft, identify."

    "Doctor Catherine Halsey. Damascus code 1973-XB."

    "Ten-four, you are clear to land on pad four."

    The Spartans piled out of the two Pelicans upon landed, filing behind John and Doctor Halsey. They were led into the facility and through several corridors. Blaine glanced around at everything, every door had a security lock on them. Not a single window was left unpainted black.

    Whatever was waiting here, whatever Mjolnir was, it was top-secret. Of course, Blaine mused, so were the Spartans themselves. It was pretty fitting, in his eyes. Halsey keyed in the passcode to the door, before everyone entered.

    There was a single command console in front of her, along with what appeared to be a vehicular elevating platform in the center of the room. Turning to her Spartans, Halsey smiled.

    "Spartans, this is Project Mjolnir."

    The elevating platform opened, as the Spartans watched with anticipation for what was to come out. Was it a new weapon, or was it something else? Several suits of armor slowly elevated, each and every one of them hosting their numbers on them, above the left breast.

    "The armor's shell is a multi-layered alloy of incredible strength. An on-board computer connects with the neural interfaces you received this morning to continually track tactical information." Halsey said, while the Spartans turned to look at the hologram in front of them. "The inner layer is composed of a new reactive liquid-crystal that is amorphous and yet fractically scales and multiplies force."

    "Ma'am?" Fred asked. "You're suggesting this armor enhances both the wearers speed and strength?"

    "Yes, one-zero-four." Halsey nodded. "By a multiple of five."

    Blaine couldn't believe what he was hearing. The augments that were now a part of his body had already made him stronger than an average man. This armor was going to increased that five-fold? The very idea was insane, but interesting. Why weren't soldiers using this already?

    "Sign me up!" Sam cheered.

    "Draw backs, ma'am?" Linda, who Blaine deduced liked to spoil fun, asked.

    "This system is so reactive that our previous tests with augmented subjects proved to be quite... fatal." Halsey said, as the hologram behind her changed.

    A lone marine had been strapped into what appeared to be John's suit, based off of the number on the breastplate. The man was surrounded by scientists, who recorded the event.

    "Raise your left arm, please." the scientist asked, as the Marine snorted.

    "Piece of cake." the man said, lifting his left arm up.

    The man screamed in agony, however, as every bone in his arm, from the elbow to his wrist, and even his fingers, shattered. In his reaction, his body shifted in his discomfort. For every motion he made, the hologram echoed with the sound of breaking bones, and teared muscles.

    Blaine shook his head in disbelief. They were going to be putting THAT on?

    "Any action completed by the subjects, as you just witnessed, caused bones to snap, tendons to tear. Their own agony induced spasms killed them." Halsey said. "You Spartans are not normal humans, however. You're enhanced musculature and bone density should be enough to allow you to utilize the armor."

    Should? Blaine didn't like the sound of that. Variables in science were one thing. When they involved the lives of him and his fellow Spartans, however, he didn't like them. A trait he shared with John. Looking to his left and right, Jorge, Lorelei, and Katherine seemed to be feeling the same level of unease.

    "I volunteer to go first." John said. "Stepping forward."

    "I had a feeling you might." Halsey's eyes flickered to Blaine. "If not one-one-five."

    John stepped up, as a pair of scientists approached from the other side of the room. They carted in a circular harness that, when placed on the floor, would help the Spartans into their armor. John was instructed to stand just underneath the machine, while it plucked piece after piece of the advanced armor off of it's rack.

    Slowly, the armor was assembled around John's legs, then his torso, and finally his arms. When the machine had finished, they gently lowered John's arms down to his side.

    "Please move forward, slowly, deliberately." Halsey instructed. "The armor cannot be powered down, and the response cannot be scaled back."

    John's first instinct was to raise his left arm. His motion was slow, as his eyes fell to the palm of his hand. He had a curious look on his face, as if he was pondering something. Though, with John, he was always thinking, always analyzing.

    "It's... shifting?"

    "Every suit is designed with a gel filled layer that regulates temperature and fit." Halsey smiled. "Are you ready for your first step?"

    "Yes ma'am." John nodded.

    Around Blaine, the other Spartans braced themselves. They dared not turn away, but they also couldn't stand to watch. If John had a similar incident to the Marine, they were going to be down a leader and a brother.

    John eased his right foot forward, stepping off of the elevated platform. Stepping his left foot forward, John continued to open and close his hands.

    "It's a lot lighter than I had imagined." John said, as Halsey approached with what appeared to be his helmet.

    It had the same green coloration as the rest of the armor, but a golden one-way visor inside. A pair of what Blaine could only assume were shields from the sun jutted out from the top, just above the visor, spaced far enough for eye coverage.

    John slowly began to bend over, while Halsey approached to place it on his head.

    "Easy now." she said carefully.

    With a pop and a hiss, the helmet joined the rest of the armor. Halsey took a step back to admire the armor's look.

    "How does it feel?"

    "Like I was made to wear it." John said, his voice muffled by the external speakers.

    After that, the remainder of Blue Team were outfitted in their own set of suits. Being the elite team of Spartans that they were, being a cut above the rest of them, they were given different variations to their designs. When they had finished, Halsey turned to Blaine.

    "Orange Team, you're next." she said, turning to him. "Blaine?"

    "Gladly, ma'am." Blaine nodded.

    Each of Blue Team had been offered a different variation of color and design for their armor. As Blaine approached, he felt a knot in his throat. He was nervous, like he had been the day Lucy first talked to him. He hadn't noticed before then, but his armor's primary coloration was blue, while it's trim was red.

    Stepping up to the elevated platform, he turned to face the other Spartans. Jorge nodded in support, while Katherine and Lorelei flinched.

    "Feet together, arms across." the scientist instructed. "It's going to feel a bit weird, but you mustn't move until the procedure is complete."

    "Yes sir." Blaine said.

    It started with his feet. Lifting his right foot, the base of what would be his right boot was placed on the platform. Stepping his foot back down into it, it fit almost like a glove. It had the sensation, as John had said, of a million different beds molding around him. It followed with his left boot. Upon placing his feet in the boots, the machine began to form his calf armor, piece by piece. Working their way up his legs, past his hips, up his chest, and across his arms.

    Like the others before him, Blaine was confused by the sensation. It was strange at first, but when they molded into place, it stopped being a distraction. Slowly, he raised his right hand up to his chest, turning his hand slowly and deliberately as he did so.

    He felt the suit move as he moved, like it was a separate, and yet singular entity to him. He curled his fingers and opened them, before repeating the motion with his left arm. When he began to get a feel for it, he slowly stepped forward, the weight of his armor causing it to echo throughout the room.

    Placing his other foot down, it was just like learning to walk again. He felt uneasy, but he trusted himself and the armor to do it with synergy. As with the others, Halsey approached him with a helmet. Blue like his armor, it had a singular red stripe running from the visor, down the middle, to the top of the neural interface slot.

    Unlike John's visor, the glass that formed his was narrow, and didn't stretch the entire helmet.  If he had to guess, it only existed where his eyes would be. The rest was black metallic plating. Slowly, he bent down as she placed it on his shoulders.

    As she did so, the HUD lit up. As he had deduced, he had a full peripheral view of his immediate area, despite the smaller visor. At the top right hand corner of the HUD, it showed seven blue squares, immediately above that was his heart-rate.

    On the bottom left, a circular motion tracker appeared. It pulsed every second, pinging in yellow at what he could only guess was Blue Team, who stood behind him. Dead center of his HUD was a small blue 'x', which he could only guess was the weapon reticule.

    The process continued with Jorge, Katherine, and Lorelei. Blaine had spent the time watching his team-mates don the armor, instead of using it. When they joined him by his side, they walked around together, until they got the hang of it. They moved their arms, their shoulders, every conceivable joint or muscle.

    When they were certain they broke it in, they joined Blue Team. Fred was busy using the new speed and strength enhancements to vault over various obstacles in a course similar to the one Mendez had trained them on.

    Kelly ran on a treadmill, measuring just how fast she could run. At her fastest, Blaine could see on the monitor that she was at running at least at sixty two kilometers per hour. Katherine was fast, but even she knew that she wasn't that fast.

    Sam stood in front of a concrete brick, swinging punch after punch into it. With each blow, Blaine watched as it fragmented and cracked outright, before a massive slab fell off and crumbled at his feet.

    Linda sat on a box, staring down range using a 99c-series anti-material Sniper Rifle. Blaine had to guess that she was linking the rifle to her suit's internal computer to test for 'lag'.

    Katherine went to join Kelly, content that she could run in the armor at this point. Jorge moved up to another concrete slab to test his might. Lorelei and Blaine, on the other hand, moved to the shooting range. They both grabbed their weapon of choice, Blaine a DMR, and Lorelei an SMG.

    It startled Blaine, however, that the second the weapon came into contact with his hands, the suit reacted. His visor showed the outline of the rifle in the top left hand corner of the HUD. It showed that the current clip was empty, with zero clips left to spare.

    It appalled him to how advanced the technology was. However, it was probably the coolest thing he had ever seen, hands down. Instinctively, he plucked a clip from the shelf in front of him. Upon entering it into the weapon, the HUD refreshed the ammo counter.

    Bringing it up to eye level, the HUD added an impressive magnification, turning the reticle from a small 'x' to a pair of circles, one smaller inside of the other. Pulling the trigger, he barely felt the recoil on the gun, which was an odd phenomenon.

    He continued to fire the entire clip, before returning the rifle to the rack to his right. Walking around, he watched as Lorelei expertly fired the SMG in her hands at the target in front of her. She pulsed her salvos, the clusters hitting extremely close together.

    Blaine felt a hand on his shoulder, as he turned. Jorge was standing behind him, although Blaine couldn't see his face, he knew that Jorge was likely beaming. He could tell from the way Jorge was standing.

    "Sir, this is amazing." Jorge said through the external comm. "I just shattered a two foot concrete slab with a single punch."

    "Impressive." Blaine nodded. "I can't feel the recoil of a DMR when I fire it, even if I fire as fast as I can. Accurate too."

    "You've gotta try that." Jorge said. "Scientist types are vexed, they have no idea how I did it."

    "Swap places then." Blaine chuckled. "Hit the range, I'll beat up that mean concrete."

    Fred joined Blaine by a fresh pair of concrete. The two nodded at each other, before turning to their concrete slabs. Fred swung punch after swift punch at the slab. Each hit caused it to fracture, with pieces crumbling every time it cracked. Whipping his right foot across it, a modest chunk slid off, crumbling at the floor.

    Blaine turned to his, before raising his right hand up. Clenching his fist, he looked up to the slab in front of him. What he saw, was Charlie looking back at him. He knew now that Charlie regretted his mistakes, still, he had wanted to punch him the other day.

    Cocking his right fist back, Blaine stepped forward and delivered a devastating haymaker through the middle of the concrete. Due to it's design, the concrete fell into two halves, as dust settled. Blaine stared at the mess he created, his fist had actually penetrated the concrete AND dented the metallic wall behind it.

    It was then that he was glad that he didn't punch Charlie when he did, because he would have likely killed him in one hit. Blaine shook his wrist, looking down at the concrete carnage at his feet.

    "Damn, sir." Fred nodded. "Didn't know you had personal beef with that slab."

    "Yeah." Blaine chuckled. "Said this suit made me look fat."

    "Then you'd better hit the treadmill sir." Katherine said, walking up to him. "Warmed it up for you."

    "Thanks." Blaine nodded, walking over towards the treadmills.

    On the monitor in front of him, it currently had a dash followed by both the metric and imperial measurements for speed. He started it at a medium speed, allowing himself a light jog. He set it to marginally increase every few seconds to allow himself to properly monitor his speed.

    His heart rate, according to the monitor, remained steady at sixty two beats per minute. As he increased it's speed, the rate fluctuated a bit, going as high as sixty seven at most. His eyes fell to the monitor on the wall in front of him. He was running as fast as he possibly could, so he shut off the marginal increase factor and allowed it continue at the same speed.

    At this point, his heart rate climbed to a high of seventy six, but still remained within a healthy level. According to the monitor, he was going an average of fifty-eight kilometers per hour, or thirty-six miles per hour. Upon completing his speed test, Blaine shut down the treadmill, before turning back. Katherine watched, arms crossed.

    "Kelly's still fastest." she said. "Sixty-two kilometers per hour. Thirty-eight miles per hour."

    "What about you?"

    "Better than you, sir." Katherine tapped his shoulder with her fist. "Sixty kilometers, thirty-seven miles."

    "I'm impressed."

    "Thank you." she replied with a thumbs up. "Squad Leader is addressing us, c'mon."

    "Spartans." John folded his arms behind his back. "This is what we've trained our entire lives to do. If we lose here, we lose everything. Every sacrifice, every loss, a waste."

    "So let's send our own message." John finished.

    The Spartans snapped into a crisp salute.

    "Sir yes sir!" they yelled.

    "Captain Maxson to Halsey. The Covenant ship will be on us in under ten minutes." Wallace spoke through their internal comms. "I'm sorry Doctor."

    "Ma'am." John stepped forward, Blue Team forming behind his back. "Let us take a shot. We're the best possible option- you're only option. Blue Team is ready, and you know it, ma'am."

    "Godspeed, John." Halsey nodded, a look of concern running over her face.

    Blaine stepped forward, as Blue Team made for the exit.

    "What about the rest of us, Squad Leader?" Blaine asked.

    "Protect Doctor Halsey if necessary. We'll link up on the Commonwealth. If not, godspeed."

    "Kick their teeth in, sir." Blaine saluted.

    "With pleasure." Sam cracked his knuckles.

    As Blue Team left, Blaine was officially in charge of the remaining Spartans. Their every action, in this time, was his responsibility. He had only gone through this a couple of times, mostly when John had been summoned by Halsey or Mendez.

    "Spartans. While Blue Team is off fighting the Covenant menace, our priority should be keeping Doctor Halsey safe. Orange Team and I will head out to the landing pad. If necessary, we will secure the site for extraction." Red Team, you're in charge of Halsey's safety. I shouldn't have to remind you how important she is. Green Team, you'll be making sure the personnel in this facility are ready to move at a moment's notice."

    "I find it hard to believe that nuclear devices are not on site, so if the need arises, you will arm the nukes in case of a breach. We can't afford to give the Covenant any kind of advantages on us. This includes weapon systems and technology. If they know us, they will know how to beat us." Blaine said. "Are we going to let them?"

    "Sir no sir!" the Spartans replied.

    Blaine nodded curtly, before working his way over to the gallery. Pulling the DMR off of the wall, Blaine took a handful of clips and placed them inside of the pouch located on his hip. As they were added, the HUD refreshed the count.

    Lorelei, Katherine, and Jorge followed suit, arming themselves with their weapons of choice. Katherine had an shotgun, Lorelei an SMG, and Jorge an MA5B assault rifle.

    With their weapons, they moved out of the room, back through the corridor, and to the landing pad. One of the Pelicans had been missing, but that was to be expected, John and the others needed some kind of transport.

    There was little in the ways of cover, but then again, the vehicles they were defending were very much in the open anyways. Never mind their safety, if anything landed, they'd have no cover either.

    "Green-One reporting.." Damon-092 spoke. "Havoc nukes were located. They are being readied for remote detonation. Green-Two, Three, and Four are gathering everyone into the test room as we speak.

    "Good." Blaine replied. "When those nukes are armed, I want the detonation procedures sent to my suit."

    "Acknowledged, sir. Green-One out.

    Orange Team sat there on the landing pad, weapons trained and at the ready for any moment's notice. After a time, Blaine's eyes raised to the sky. A brilliant flash over took Chi Ceti IV, and Blaine was uncertain whether or not it was the Covenant ship, or the Commonwealth.

    "Captain Wallace reporting. Tango neutralized. Thank you Spartans."

    Blaine and the others cheered, Blue Team had done it. Not that there had been any doubts in their minds. However, every moment that they were sitting there, was another moment that one of their Spartan brethren on board the ship could die.

    "Spartan One-one-five to Captain Wallace. Is Blue Team out, sir?"

    "Affirmative, son. Their Pelican is inbound."

    "Roger, everyone is en-route." Blaine said. "Orange Leader to all listening. Covenant vessel has been destroyed, and we can leave. Nukes can be disarmed and the workers can return to their duties. We won today."

    After a few moments, Halsey and the other Spartan teams exited the facility. It was going to be a rather tight squeeze inside of the Pelican, but it would have to do. Blaine stepped in first, manning the bird, while everyone else mounted up. Halsey joined him in the cock-pit, in case someone needed to be contacted.

    "You handled yourself well back there, one-one-five." Halsey remarked. "A true leader. Well done."

    "Ma'am, John is my leader. My inspiration, ma'am. Everything I do, I do because John inspired me to do so." Blaine nodded.

    "Like piloting a Pelican?"

    "Like piloting a Pelican, ma'am."

    When the Pelican broke orbit, Blaine was the first to see the wreckage of the Covenant ship. It had been shattered to different sized pieces of alien metal. He smiled beneath the helmet, they seemed invincible.

    Clearly, they were not. Approaching the Commonwealth, Blaine stuck the ship on auto-pilot. When they passed the opening, the bay doors closed behind the Pelican. Stepping out into the troop bay, Blaine and Halsey stepped to the back of the Pelican. It's automated landing procedure allowed him to open the back manually, via the switch on the wall. As it opened, Blaine's heart sank.

    John, Kelly, Fred, and Linda were the only Spartans he saw. Stepping out of the Pelican, Blaine approached them, while Halsey and the other Spartans climbed out.

    "Where's Sam?" Blaine asked, as Fred placed a hand on his shoulder, shaking his head.

    "He went out fighting." John replied quickly.

    Sam had been the first augmented Spartan to fall. Blaine heard how he had gunned down several of the now confirmed multi-species group. He proved to the other Spartans that they could killed. Sam proved that, together, the Spartans were going to win this war, one alien at a time.

    The Spartans formed up behind Blaine, as Blue Team glanced at the rest of them. John stood straight, his head turning to look at each individual Spartan in front of him.

    "Sam was my friend. He was my brother. He was our brother." John said slowly, yet forcefully. "When we were training, in the forest by the river. I asked Sam to trust me to take us home. To follow me."

    John stepped forward, standing rigid and firm, his stance never breaking.

    "Will you trust me now?" John asked the Spartans. "Will you follow me?"



    Thanks for Reading!

    Database Director

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    Origins: Final Hour Empty Re: Origins: Final Hour

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 21st 2016, 10:41 pm

    "Orange Team, fall in." Blaine spoke, as his team formed behind him. "Reporting for duty, sir!"

    It had been three days since the Spartans had received their Mjolnirs, when Sam fell to the Covenant. In that time, John had been rarely seen by any of the remaining Spartans. In the few instances that Blaine had talked to John, the Squad Leader had been outspoken, more so than Blaine had ever been.

    Sam was a vital morale boost to all of the Spartans, post augmentation. His can-do attitude, mixed with his optimistic view of the world was sorely missed by every single Spartan. Katherine, who was still racked with grief over the devastating loss of Harvest, was more intent than ever to get into actual combat again. Her hatred for the Insurrection was dwarfed in comparison to her loathing of the Covenant.

    "You Spartans remember Simon DeWinter?" Mendez asked, as the Spartans nodded. "Thanks to your efforts in bringing him in, ONI was able to extract crucial information about Terrence Fletcher's hideout, and the HVT's location."

    "Sir." Katherine stepped forward. "What about the Covenant?"

    "Though the Covenant is a looming threat, we can't afford to ignore an Insurrectionist retaliation, Spartans." Mendez continued. "Orange Team has been assigned to capture or neutralize Terrence Fletcher in a joint op with one of the best ODST squads at ONI's disposal."

    Mendez turned to the man standing beside him. Dressed in a deep blue naval suit. Above his shoulder, a golden bar, topped with two silver stars resided. Blaine recognized the insignia of the Rear Admiral anywhere.

    "Admiral on deck!" Blaine barked, as the Spartans snapped into a crisp salute.

    "At ease, Spartans." the officer returned the salute. "I am Rear Admiral Harper. I am here to brief you on this operation."

    "Terrence Fletcher has been pinpointed to his base of operations, which has since been located on Bliss, toward's the capital city of Paradise." Harper replied. "A hypocritical name, for the capital city of an Insurrectionist regime."

    "We have been monitoring his movements for the month. It appears that he only stays for three days, before heading off to the unknown again." Harper continued. "Colonel Hackett, the head of ARMSPECWARCOM  has granted us the assistance of his top ODSTs for this operation. Cobalt Squad will be your support for this mission, Spartans."

    The Spartans turned as the door opened. A group of four ODSTs walked in, fully kitted to the teeth in their top of the line gear. Standing at attention to the Admiral, they made their way closer to the briefing table. One of them stepped forward, standing beside Blaine.

    "This operation could not have been possible without the two of you. Warrant Officer Harlowe, this is Chief Petty Officer Spartan One-One-Five." Harper continued. "While he is your inferior, it is best to leave Orange Team and him to their own devices. Remember, this is a joint operation, and I expect full cooperation."

    "Sir, yes sir." Blaine nodded, turning to the ODST beside him. "Sir, a pleasure to meet you, sir."

    "Don't slow us down, Spartan." the ODST huffed.

    Blaine didn't understand why the ODST had to be so rude, but he shook the feeling off. This was his superior, and he had to respect him, no matter how little respect he got in return.

    "As is customary for a typical stealth op such as this, you will be dropping in behind enemy lines. A few klicks south of the compound. Of course, this will be under the cover of night. It's expected that the Euclid Meteor shower will be in full effect. If all goes well, the Insurrection won't be expecting you." Harper grunted. "Lethal force is permitted as necessary. Although we would prefer if Fletcher is captured alive. If we can manage to get him, we can get to the higher echelon of the Insurrection as a whole."

    "Yes sir." the ODST nodded. "My team and I will ready for drop immediately."

    "Sir." Blaine nodded his head. "Do we have any intel on the state of the compound? Defenses in place, expected levels of resistance?"

    "Shoot to kill." one of the ODSTs called from the side. "Doesn't matter how many. Pump those rebel bastards full of so much lead, their children get lead poisoning."

    "Stand down, ODST." Harper growled. "Prowler surveillance of the compound suggests sniper placements on the roof, with the occasional patrol every hour on the hour. It appears that a shift change occurs at zero hundred hours every night."

    "As for inside of the compound itself, we lack the proper intel. You'll have to learn as you go, Spartan." Harper said. "Any further questions?"

    "Negative, sir." Blaine said.

    "On your way then. Dismissed."

    The Spartans saluted the Admiral, before excusing themselves from the room. Shortly behind them, the ODSTs marched after them. Behind the Spartans, Blaine could hear the ODSTs whispering.

    "This is bogus." one of the ODSTs sneered. "We've been hunting this bastard down for eight years now. So how do they repay us? They give us some rookie and his team."

    "Relax, will ya?" one of the others whispered. "We have no idea what their capable of."

    "Stow it, the lot of ya." the leader growled. "I don't like it either. Still, what's an extra set of guns anyways?"

    Unbeknownst to the ODSTs, the Spartans heard every single word of what they had said. Blaine could hear Katherine's right hand clenching into a fist.

    "Relax." Blaine sighed. "Their ODSTs. Mendez told us they were the elite of the UNSC military."

    "John killed four of them with his bare hands." Katherine snarled. "They can't be that elite."

    "Stow it." Blaine warned. "It's just one mission, then we can be done with them."

    "I dunno sir." Jorge whispered beside him. "They don't seem all that professional to me, might drag us down."

    "Enough, both of you." Blaine spoke sternly. "You were trained discipline and respect, even if your superior didn't respect you back. We're still our own unit, we just have a helping hand."

    Blaine actually agreed with the others. The ODSTs behind them were way too full of themselves, and had no right to disrespect them. He didn't care how much experience you had, everyone in the UNSC was in this together. If they were going to in fight among themselves, why bother with the Insurrection? The Germans once fought on three fronts in the early twentieth century, and they ended up losing.

    At the end of the day, he knew to suck it up. He knew what it was like to be disrespected, even when he had done nothing wrong. With their augmentations, however, they would easily kill the ODSTs, and the Spartans certainly didn't need that on their hands at this moment. Instead, they had to maintain their calm.

    Upon reaching the barracks, the Spartans stood to one side. The ODSTs piled in after them. Unfortunately, the DMR was still in it's prototype phase. As a result, he was reduced to using a MA5B assault rifle. He collected six clips, placing them inside of his pouch. His HUD refreshed, while he pulled a simple magnum out of the weapon's locker.

    The suit registered the two weapons, displaying them and their ammo count in the top left hand corner of the HUD. To his right, Jorge had resorted to a similar load-out. To his left, Lorelei and Katherine took their respective weapons. Katherine pulled a shotgun, along with a pair of SMGs as her loadout, while Lorelei armed herself with a Sniper Rifle and an SMG.

    "Cobalt, arm up!" the leader of the ODSTs barked in an exotic accent.

    Walking up to Blaine, the ODST tapped him on the shoulder. Tilting his head to the door, the ODST started walking out. Blaine turned to the other Spartans, who looked at him in confusion.

    "Make sure you're set for a combat drop, Spartans. I'll be back." Blaine said, tapping them each on the shoulder.

    Following the ODST out into the hallway. Blaine was surprised to see the ODST waiting for him patiently. Tilting his head to the right, the two walked down the hall.

    "I figured, being the leader of our squad 'n all, we should have a one-on-one discussion." the ODST replied. "I'm Warrant Officer Second Grade Morgan Harlowe. 21st ODST."

    Blaine thought he recognized the name from somewhere, but he just couldn't place it. Had he met the man in the past? Shaking it from his head, he continued to listen as the ODST continued.

    "Don't get my squad's intentions all wrong, Petty Officer." Morgan continued. "They are good men, not only in combat, but off duty. We're a tight knit group, and like to do things our own way."

    "This is the first op in over a decade that we've done cooperatively." Morgan sighed. "I'd like to apologize firsthand for anything they've said. I'd also like to apologize for my treatment of you during briefing. That was only a show for my men, an' it wasn't anythin' personal."

    Blaine still couldn't escape the overwhelming feeling he knew this man from somewhere. In that moment, the two turned to each other. The ODST pulled his helmet off, his unkempt beard gently nestled back into place.

    It was then that Blaine remembered. These ODSTs were the same ones that he had run into following augmentation a few months back.

    "You're that cadet from the shootin' range." Morgan nodded curtly. "I remember now. Had the strangest name. Only a number."

    "I'm more than just a number, sir." Blaine nodded.

    "That you are, soldier." Morgan smirked. "If your team can all shoot as well as you did that day, hell, Josh might blow a fuckin' gasket."

    As the two walked, Blaine noticed as the ODST fidgeted with the helmet in his hands. He rubbed his hand over the helmet endearingly. Blaine found it odd, the helmet seemed to have been altered somehow, like modifications had been made.

    Morgan seemed to notice this, catching the Spartan's visor gazing down at it. With a frown, Morgan sighed heavily.

    "You're wondering about the helmet." Morgan shook his head.

    "Yes sir. It looks as though it was modified to fit your head, after previously being a smaller size."

    "It was, Petty Officer." Morgan sighed, Blaine noticing the man's eyes scanning the visor, before a lone tear drop splattered on the visor. "My wife and I were the leaders of Cobalt Squad, a decade and a half ago."

    Blaine was rather shocked, it was very rare that members of a family served in a squad together. Especially spouses, in the event of a spouse dying, that could lead to traumatic, if not worse experiences for the survivor.

    "She died during an Insurrectionist raid on our home-town, fourteen years ago." Morgan wiped his eyes, before clearing his throat. "This helmet is the only thing I've got left of her. So I modified it so that she could be with me always."

    "I'm sorry for your loss, sir." Blaine nodded.

    "Bah." Morgan cleared his throat again, before placing the helmet on his head. "You didn't need to know that anyways. The reason I pulled you out here was because we need to work together."

    "I'll keep my squad contained, you keep yours in line." Morgan continued. "We should also register each other's teams to our rosters."

    "Yes sir." Blaine said, as the information from Morgan's neural interface pinged his helmet digitally.

    Four new members were added to his roster; Tongue, Brains, Hyde, and Scotch. Blaine assumed they were code-names for the members of the roster, as the numbers were for the Spartans. The beautiful thing about the Mjolnir armor was that everything was done mentally for him, working synonymous with his mind and itself.

    He sent the declassified roster for the members of Orange Team. It consisted merely of their first initial, followed by their Spartan number.

    "B-115, L-102, K-076, and J-052?"

    "Yes sir." Blaine replied with a curt nod.

    "No names, nicknames, anything?" Morgan asked.

    "Sorry sir, it's on a need to know basis." Blaine shook his head. "I am not authorized to disclose any further information."

    "I prefer to know the names of the men I work with, Petty Officer." Morgan sighed. "Though I suppose that's ONI brass for you."

    Holding his hand out to Blaine, Blaine reached out and shook the ODSTs hand.

    "We drop in fifteen, Petty Officer. My men and I will meet you at the hanger." Morgan grunted, before walking off".

    "Yes sir."


    The air inside of the hanger was thick and smelled of oil, despite most of the vehicles contained within using a hydrogen powered engine block. Even with Blaine's filter, the smell was nearly unbearable. Even after all of the years spent training in and around these kinds of places.

    In front of them, the ODSTs placed their weapons in racks on the inside of the open pods. Two of the ODSTs climbed into their pods, while the other two turned to the Spartans.

    "I bet you rookies have never been in one of these monsters." the ODST gloated, tapping the side of the pod.

    "Actually, we have, sir." Jorge stepped forward. "Several times."

    The other ODSTs chuckled as the lone ODST, which Blaine's HUD listed as 'Tongue' clenched his fist.

    "Watch your tongue wise-guy. ODSTs aren't called the best of the best for our fashion sense, unlike you freaks of nature."

    "Really?" one ODST; Hyde, chuckled. "I personally dig one-oh-two's armor. Olive green with dark purple trim? That's a nice composition. I think you're just jealous, Tongue."

    "I'm beginning to see why that Tongue fellow is called what he is." Jorge spoke in private comm. to Blaine.

    Blaine blinked twice, privately acknowledging Jorge's words. Scotch stepped forward, folding his arms behind his back.

    "That makes it a lot easier for the rest of us, then." he spoke in reference to the Spartans' experience with SOEIV pods. "Mount up for immediate drop."

    The Spartans followed suit to the ODSTs, loading their primary weapons into the designated rack. Piling into their pods, the door closed down on them, sealing them in. Blaine's HUD came alive once more, with a miniature feed of Scotch's helmet.

    "We in Cobalt Squad have a bit of a tradition we follow before every drop." Scotch said. "You wanna drop with us, you're gonna be involved."

    The pod shifted around Blaine as it was lifted up and out of the Atlas's hull. Gazing down, the Atlas was just at the edge of Bliss' atmosphere. The light to Blaine's right flashed red three times, before becoming a solid green.

    "Gentlemen, we are green, and you know what that means!"

    The comm. system between Orange Team came alive with the music of an old twentieth century song that Blaine was unfamiliar with. The man sang of good girls, bad boys, and something about free falling. Blaine only got the free falling reference, as his pod suddenly jettisoned into Bliss' orbit.

    Beneath his pod, he could see the markers for the ODSTs, and to his pod's immediate left was Jorge's pod. He couldn't locate Lorelei and Katherine, but his motion tracker pinged yellow behind him.

    "Shower is beginning, sir." Blaine reported.

    "Scotch has eyes, freak."

    Blaine didn't understand why this Tongue character had so much disdain for him. He especially didn't take kindly to being referred to as a freak. He was no less a human, just because he was augmented.

    "Stow it." Scotch grunted. "One-one-five's right. Team, commit to headed five-by-five. Nominal entrance vector is fifteen degrees to port."

    "Sir." Jorge spoke up. "Fifteen degrees will put us IN the meteor shower."

    "Exactly, soldier." Scotch replied. "The meteor's will mask our approach."

    "At that speed, we'll likely be hit." Katherine spoke up. "Suggesting alteration to twenty-two degrees port. We'll still have the meteor's as cover, but we'll be closer inside of the atmosphere as opposed to further with just as much coverage."

    There was silence for a moment, as Hyde's helmet appeared on the visual feed. Blaine wasn't sure if he was nodding in approval, or the bumps in the pod were causing him to shake.

    "Oh-seven-six is right sir. The velocity of those meteors is much too fast to allow a group of pods in this close proximity to safely maneuver. It might work if it was just the four of us still. Eight pods would be dicey." Craig replied. "I too suggest committing to heading five-by-five with a degree of twenty-two degrees port side."

    "Acknowledged. Transition on my mark, team." Scotch paused, before a green acknowledgement light blinked on his HUD. "Now, turn heading twenty-two degrees!"

    Blaine took the omni-directional control stick in his right hand, gently adjusting it to twenty-two degrees to his right, turning the bottom of his pod and it's descent to his left. With his pod's new changes, he could clearly see Katherine and Lorelei's pods just above him.

    The shaking inside of the pod increased the closer it came to breaking the passing through the stratosphere and into the troposphere of the planet. Privately, Blaine pulled up a private communication between the members of Orange Team.

    "You guys okay?" he asked, as a trio of green acknowledgement lights flickered. "Good. I know it's a little rough, just soldier through it."

    Clouds floated past his pod, as he had finally broken through the atmosphere of Bliss. Below, he could see a city that had been tucked in for the night. His eyes fell upon a compound to the northern end of the city, within the forest.

    "That's our target." Blaine said, marking a waypoint for the entire team. "Warrant Officer, sir, requesting Orange Team diverts from Cobalt Squad. Hit them from two ends?"

    "You want all the credit, don't you 'Petty Officer'?" Tongue sneered.

    "Stow it, Tongue." Scotch growled. "On what grounds?"

    "Sir, it's likely that eight of us will be spotted if we move together. If we branch off, we can not only hit them on opposite sides, but split their attention." Blaine reported. "In the event the target attempts to flee, we'd also have all exits covered."

    "Good idea, Petty Officer." Scotch nodded. "Alright. Cobalt Squad will take the back door. You and your team can breach from the front."

    "Wait, didn't I see one of your troops with a sniper?" Brain asked.

    "Yes sir." Blaine replied. "One-zero-two has a sniper rifle at the ready."

    "Then I suggest we keep the snipers outside to maintain counter sniping positions." Brain said. "One of Cobalt Squad could link up with Orange Team?"

    "If it's anyone, it's gonna be me." Scotch said. "That bastard took everything from me, and I wanna be there when we capture him."

    Blaine's heart sank, had Terrence Fletcher been the cause of Morgan's wife's death? Blaine knew it wasn't wise to bring a man with a vendetta into an extraction mission like this. However, he was powerless to stop Scotch. He had no rank or right to tell him what to do.

    "Sir, is it wise to go in with a vengeance?" Blaine asked. "The HVT is needed alive, sir."

    "Oh he's coming in alive, one-one-five." Morgan replied coldly. "I just didn't promise he was coming back in pristine condition."

    There was no arguing with the ODST, Blaine deduced. If possible, Blaine was going to have to make a compromise to ensure the target stayed alive.

    "Snipers, round about to heading six-by-six at approximately fourty degrees down port. I saw a decent ledge that could be useful for having eyes on the compound. Scotch continued. "Cobalt Squad, turn about fifteen degrees down starboard, that should bring you into the forest and out of sight of the compound. Orange team and I will be turning five degrees up port."

    The thrusters within the pods ignited just enough to correct the course of the pods. Parachutes had been fitted to slow the decent of the pod enough to prevent an even bigger thud than the pods would already cause. Blaine watched as Lorelei and Tongue's pods turned to his right, while the remaining members of Cobalt Squad turned to his left.

    Tilting the control stick up slightly, he felt the pod shift around him. They were going to land in a nearby plain, several kilometers from the compound. A quick hike for Orange Team and himself, though he wasn't sure about Scotch, who had joined them.

    Bracing himself, his pod crashed into the ground, followed by the others. Blaine's door refused to open, as he rammed his shoulder into it. The metal groaned for a moment, before he rammed it again. When nothing was happened, he smashed his boot against it, sending the door flying in the opposite direction

    Stepping out immediately, he pulled the assault rifle from the rack. It had been pre-loaded prior to the drop, as his HUD showed. His eyes scoped the forest's edge, his augmented vision allowing him to see relatively well in the dark.

    When he was content that the area was clear, he whistled the six tone tune of Olly Olly Oxen Free. Jorge and Katherine's pods burst open, the Spartans stepping out and releasing their weapons from the pod. Scotch's pod had flipped onto it's face upon landing. In a different situation, that would have likely meant certain death for the ODST inside, a prisoner in their own SOEIV pod, like a metallic coffin.

    "Dammit." Scotch growled. "I rolled over. Go on without me, we don't have time to cut me out."

    Blaine had other ideas, however. It was time to truly put the Mjolnir armor to the test. Wrapping his arms around the pod, Blaine felt the suit move with him, as he flipped the pod over.

    "What t' fuck was that?! Scotch yelled in comm. "One of you just hit me with a Warthog?"

    Blaine looked into the front of the pod, Scotch looking up at him through the glass. Blaine's fingers dug into the crack at the front of the pod, bending the metal, as he clutched the door with both hands. Pulling away, the metal groaned from the pressure, before releasing the door.

    Turning away, Blaine tossed the door like a Frisbee. The hunk of metal landed several meters away, leaving a ridge through the ground, skidding along. Blaine focused back on Scotch, before offering him a hand.

    "That was reckless." Scotch growled, taking Blaine's hand. "-but thank you. Unattended, I could have likely died in there."

    "I know, sir. We were taught the dangers of SOEIV pods at boot, sir."

    Scotch placed his hand on Blaine's shoulder, which was just above Scotch's head at this point. Nodding, Blaine helped him out of the pod.

    "Alright, Petty Officer." Scotch said. "From this point on, I'll follow you, seeings how I'm following your squad into battle."

    "Spartan One-zero-two in position with, uh, Tongue?" Lorelei reported, before quickly being cut off.

    "You got a problem with my nickname?!"

    "Shut up, Tongue. Brain and Hyde are deployed."

    "Affirmative." Scotch replied. "Mission timer begins now. Orange Team and I will begin our assault. Sniper team keeps an eye on snipers, take anyone out that would give us away. What remains of Cobalt Squad will breach and clear the bottom floor."

    Affirmation lights flickered across Blaine's HUD as the variable of soldiers agreed.

    "I'll take point." Blaine said. "Oh-five-two, you take the rear. Oh-seven-six, you're taking the right flank, Warrant Officer Harlowe sir, I need you on left flank."

    "You got it, son." Scotch replied, leveling his assault rifle.

    Together, the unit crept through the brush of the forest. Their feet tread softly, only the occasional branch crunching could be heard. Blaine's right ear twitched as he heard something to their right. Holding his right fist up, he quickly took a knee, shouldering his rifle.

    In the distance, a lone quadrupedal creature stared back at them. A leaf hung from it's mouth, as it scraped it's bottom jaw across it to chew. It was a dainty little creature, with fur that resembled a light brown, even in the little light provided by the sky.

    Holding his rifle up, he stood. He kept his motion slow and deliberate, so as not to startle the creature. It's white tail, which had been short and fluffy, flicked, as it's head snapped to the right. It was frightened by something, to Blaine's left. Blaine turned his attention to the source of the creature's fright.

    A small patrol of about three men had been walking down a winding trail in the middle of the woods. The Spartans and ODST silently took cover behind the trees. Blaine watched his motion tracker, as the patrol drew closer. Maintaining his position, the three men passed by him. Much like the night that he and the other Spartans had killed the Albatross pilots during that exercise, Blaine waited for them to pass.

    When the third one passed, Blaine swiftly wrapped his right arm around the man's neck, using his left hand to cover his target's mouth. It merely took a flex of his left hand and right arm to quickly snap the man's neck. He lifted the man's body, before retreating to the other side of the tree.

    Using Jorge's feed, Blaine could see that the soldiers had turned to face where he had just been. He watched as Jorge and Katherine approached, snapping the remaining two patrolmen's necks. Tossing his victim's body to the side, Blaine stepped out, while Jorge and Katherine kicked their targets away.

    "Nice and clean." Scotch nodded, impressed. "They'll likely be hailed very soon, we should keep moving."

    Blaine nodded, raising his right hand. Motioning his flat hand forward, he signaled them to move up. They maintained a steady pace, before Blaine held his right fist up again. The Spartans and ODSTs crouched behind some trees.

    "All units, Spartan One-One-Five. Orange Team has located the entrance. Two snipers marked. Three tangos by the front door." Blaine reported. "How copy?"

    "Solid copy, sir." Lorelei replied. "Eyes on sniper targets."

    "Cobalt Squad is in position. We have a couple of bogeys of our own back here. Maintaining position until mission is a-go." Brain replied.

    "We go on One-one-five's mark, soldiers." Scotch said.

    "One-zero-two, how many snipers total?" Blaine asked.

    "I count three, sir."

    Blaine nodded, to his right was a decent size rock, about the size of his fist. Gripping it tightly, he aimed for the one on the right.

    "Can you and Tongue manage to sync your shots, take out the two not marked?" Blaine asked.

    "Assuming your friend doesn't miss, I can hit my target."

    "That's not what he asked, dumbass. He asked if you two could manage a sync shot or not." Hyde growled.

    "Yeah, I can count to three." Tongue sneered. "I'll take the one on my left, your right Petty Officer."

    "Alright." Blaine said. "I'm going to take out my mark. Mission is a-go the second those snipers drop. Copy?"

    Green lights flickered in his HUD. Taking a moment to adjust his aim, Blaine threw the rock with all of his might. The sniper groaned as the rock struck him just below the eye, the blow killing him instantly. No sooner had the man's fell to the other's feet, had the booming echo of two snipers firing simultaneously echo throughout the otherwise quiet compound.

    The troops at the front of the compound raised their rifles, their backs turned to the Spartans. The echo had come from behind the complex.  Katherine decided to flank left, while Blaine, Jorge, and Scotch stepped out to offer her any covering fire. Blaine fired his assault rifle in pulses, with sixty rounds in a clip, he didn't have to worry about running out any time soon.

    When Blaine did eventually have to reload, Jorge and Scotch kept the pressure on. When he fired, they reloaded. One of the soldiers clutched his chest, before his dead body glided down the stairs, painting the marble stairs red.

    With the soldiers properly distracted, Katherine charged at them, her SMGs in her hands. She fired at the remaining two without letting up, the bullets tearing through their armor and splattering the pillar behind them in crimson goo. One of the windows to her left shattered, the barrel of an assault rifle poked through it. Katherine noticed this, diving beneath the windowsill.

    Dropping her spent SMGs, she unclipped the shotgun off of her back. Leaning her back impressively far, the unsuspecting soldier had the barrel of her shotgun stuffed into his cheek, before she fired. Pumping the next round into place, she looked down at the mixture of bone fragments and blood on her new suit of armor.

    "It's gonna take forever to get that out." she groaned.

    "Hey, something's gotta keep you busy and useful." Jorge chuckled, as she turned to face him. "I kid, I kid. Yikes."

    "This isn't training, Spartans." Blaine stepped scanned the windows with his rifle. "No time for idle chat, clock's ticking."

    "Sir, yes sir." the Spartans replied.

    "SHIT! I'm hit!" Hyde groaned in the comm.

    "Damn it, we're being swamped back here!" Brain responded. "Requesting fire support!"

    More cracks from the sniper rifles echoed through the air, mixing with the firefight on the other side of the compound. Every second they waited was another chance for Fletcher to get away.

    "I'm going." Scotch said, as Blaine placed a hand on his shoulder.

    "Sir, zero-seven-six should go. She's the fastest on my squad and our trained medic."

    Scotch knew that every second spent arguing could make the last eight years be all for naught. Nodding, Katherine sprinted around the wall. She hugged the edges, until she rounded the corner.

    "We need to keep moving." Scotch said. "I've got a breach charge."

    "Alright, Oh-five-two, you've got our back." Blaine said, as Jorge nodded. "Zero-seven-six, when you've tended to the others, try and carve a path inside. We need control of the compound to prevent Fletcher from getting away."

    "Sniper team, if you see Fletcher, shoot to incapacitate."

    Once again, a green light showed from Lorelei. Scotch hurried to the door, while Jorge and Blaine peeked inside the windows. No visible troops inside, but that didn't mean it was clear.

    The three soldiers stepped away from the door as Scotch set it off. Wood fragmented from the old fashioned door. Blaine prepared a flash-bang, tossing it in almost immediately. The soldiers turned away as the grenade detonated, stunning and blinding anyone exposed to it's effects.

    Blaine stepped in first, sweeping his rifle around. A pair of soldiers stood behind the desk, wiping their faces, trying to remove the negative effects of the grenade. With a couple of pulses from his rifle, the soldiers fell. Moving forward at a slow pace, his eyes went to the second floor. Scotch and Jorge continued to scan the floor they were on, checking their flanks.

    "He's upstairs." Blaine reported. "I can hear him scrambling up there. We have a limited time."

    "Sir, a Pelican is inbound to your position. Lorelei reported. "He's trying to escape!"

    "I'm all patched up. Thanks soldier, Phil, let's go!"

    More soldiers piled into the hallway at the top of the stairs. Blaine's rifle pulsed at them, as Jorge joined to support him. Four more soldiers fell to their hail of bullets.

    "Oh-five-two, stay here." Blaine ordered. "Just in case he decides to trick us."

    In front of them, a pair of double doors splintered as a pair of rebels skidded along the ground. Katherine laid on the ground, if Blaine hadn't known any better, she had likely just drop kicked the rebels. Jorge fired into the two downed rebel's faces, finishing them off.

    Blaine, Scotch, and Katherine worked their way up the stairs. Blaine pointed to Katherine, indicating she should go left. Scotch watched their back, while Blaine approached the source of the scrambling he had heard earlier. Cracking the door open, he tossed another flashbang in.

    "Shit, I just grazed his hip!" Tongue cursed.

    "Sir, the HVT is on the roof for extraction. I can't line up a good shot on the pilot or our target."

    The flashbang exploded as Blaine burst through the door. To his right, the door to the roof was opened. Scotch and Blaine ran up the stairs to the roof. At the top, Blaine could see the Pelican begin to hover. Balling his fists, Blaine dropped his assault rifle and sprinted towards the Pelican.

    The troop bay began to close, as it's ramp passed over the edge of the building. Blaine bolted towards it, using the ledge of the building to jump up towards it. Blaine's hands latched onto it, causing the Pelican to dip a bit. Dangling off of the ramp, his target screamed for the pilot to shut the door.

    Pulling himself up, Blaine growled in annoyance as the target hit in the cock-pit. Pulling his magnum off of his right hip, Blaine walked up to the door. Blaine kicked on the door, denting it. Kicking it again, the metal groaned. Using his left hand, Blaine tore the door off of it's hinges, throwing the folded metal carelessly behind him.

    Pointing his pistol at the Pilot's face, he fired a single round into the man's head. Terrence Fletcher whimpered as Blaine grabbed him by the shirt. The Pelican around them began to spin out of control, before crashing nose first into the field.

    The force of the crash had ripped Terrence's shirt off, ejecting him out the back of the Pelican. Blaine tried to remain steady until the machine came to a halt. Stepping out, they had landed near the SOEIV pods of Hyde and Brain. Terrence scrambled to his feet, clutching his left arm close to his chest.

    He tripped up, his head turning to Blaine. The Pelican behind him ignited on fire, erupting into a fireball as a result of it's crash. Marching towards his target, Terrence decided rather to stand his ground. Holding his right fist up, he hunched over like he meant to fist fight Blaine.

    Blaine let the man's arm lash out against his breastplate, breaking the man's fingers on contact. Bracing Terrence's arm with his left hand, Blaine brought his right fist up underneath the man's elbow, breaking it at the bend. Kicking Terrence's left knee-cap, the man's leg broke in the opposite direction, forcing Terrence to take a knee. Looking up at Blaine, Terrence's eyes were filled with horror as Blaine gave a quick punch to the side of Terrence's cheek.

    The target wasn't dead, but he was going to wish he had. The broken leg and arm weren't necessary, but he did them for Scotch. Lifting the broken, unconscious man over his shoulder. Blaine walked back in the direction of the compound.

    "Spartan One-one-five reporting, I have the target." Blaine smirked beneath his helmet. "Is the compound secured?"

    It had been a good mission, no-one got fatally wounded. It was done almost flawlessly, and a big piece of the Insurrection lay over his shoulder.

    "Every Innie bastard is dead, Petty Officer." Scotch replied. "Good work. Definitely not just a number."



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    Post  Manny on March 22nd 2016, 1:49 am

    Good stuff man! I'm really enjoying this.

    It still feels like it was written by you, but it's much more refined. Blaine still has more or less the same values, but he acts in a way that is appropriate given his circumstances.

    There is one thing that I would like to address. How does Blaine and his crew pass of as regular humans when they should be dwarfing the civilians on Reach? If Blaine is bigger than Chief, and Chief dwarfed Sara Palmer who was a Spartan IV, then shouldn't a civilian seem even smaller relative to Blaine? Building on that, shouldn't the people at the orphanage have thought it was odd that a a 14 year old boy was that big?

    That is one particular scenario I found hard to believe. For what it's worth, it wasn't written poorly but like I said I found it hard to believe.
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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 22nd 2016, 2:09 am

    Quick Author's Note: I just saw your post Manny. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far, I'm extremely proud of what's been going on so far.

    As for your concern, the only explanation I could grant is this; Charlie was mistaken into believing the others were college students. Remember in the novel how John was described as being a pre-teen with the body of an Olympic gold medalist swimmer?

    Lucy, whose lived the normal life of a fourteen year old, didn't really notice how much bigger Blaine had been as something that was off.

    Ms. Sanders was so worried about Blaine's well-being for the past eight years, going so far as to fear that he was dead, was too overjoyed to see Blaine that she ate up the lie that they were college students.

    She even went so far as to call him a genius, implying that she found it a bit unbelievable that Blaine had been in college at fourteen. Because she was really the only one to notice.

    Finally, the secretary didn't think anything of it. Here four 'college students' came out of the blue to ask for a tour of her facility. They even had a 'legit email' to confirm their lies.

    The only other person to interact with the Spartans was Simon DeWinter, who was captured anyways.

    As for civilians on the street, think to New York City, but on another planet. I mean, the dude that played Superman went to New York City and no-one noticed him, what's four harmless college students?

    In their peripherals, here were a group of normal college aged students, walking through their city.

    I know it's a little unbelievable, but those are the only excuses that I could come up with. It was the same mindset I had when writing that installment in the first place.

    Thanks for reading and the feedback!

    "So, let's recap." Craig said with a smirk.

    The four ODSTs, following the joint operation with the highly functional soldiers. They had returned to their home base on Reach, near Visegrad. Morgan sat on his cot, leaning his elbows on his knees, while Josh laid on his own cot. Forming his hand into a 'pistol', Josh pretended to fire. Phil, on the other hand, was shaving the hair on his chin.

    "After eight long grueling years of hunting the son of a bitch down. We finally got our hands on Terrence Fletcher, one of the biggest names in the Insurrection." Craig shook his head. "The one who had assigned the attack on New Alexandria in conjunction with the unnamed Private Military Company that was also involved."

    "We, who are without a doubt one of ONI's most successful black ops teams, were shown up by a ranking of soldiers not even known to Humanity." Craig continued.

    "Hey man, those soldiers saved your ass." Phil chuckled, gently running the razor down the length of his neck. "I wouldn't sound so salty if I were you."

    "It's actually the contrary, Phil." Craig replied, sitting backwards on the chair in front of his desk. "I'm more amazed than anything. Those soldiers, those Spartans, they're the real deal."

    "I mean, Morgan confirmed that they were those same cadets from the shooting gallery. They're so elite they can't disclose their real names, and respond to mere numbers." Craig clicked the inside of his cheek. "They looked young enough to be straight outta boot camp when we first met them, and one of them outclassed Josh with a sniper."

    "Besides that kid O'brien from the 105th, Josh is the best sniper at the UNSC's disposal." Craig continued, chin on his fist. "Not to mention that one-one-five fellow outclassed Josh in mid-range with precision, he had specifically recruited that one-zero-two to do the sniping on his team."

    "Meaning, if even one-one-five could out snipe Josh, that one Spartan had to have some even higher level skill than Josh."

    "Shut up. Those ain't humans." Josh growled, turning his head to face Craig. "You saw how that one that patched you up ran so fast. It's a god-damn android meant to sound human."

    "AI are certainly advanced technology, but I don't think the UNSC is at the level of sentient droids, Josh." Craig shook his head. "How old do you reckon they were anyways?"

    "Whenever their manufacturing labels say they were made." Josh snarled. "Christ's sake, why do you even care?"

    "I care because of job security, Josh." Craig growled back, slamming his fist on the chair. "If those Spartans are better than the best the UNSC has to offer. What happens to us ODSTs? Do we join the front lines? Do we get the pussy jobs in comparison to these Spartans?"

    "I don't think we'll have to worry about it, honestly." Phil said. "There were what, four of them? Maybe six? I don't think it's some conspiracy. The UNSC's been agonizing for an advantage over the Insurrection for a long time now. Add in some super elite teams in the behind the scenes, and shit gets done."

    "I'm telling you guys, they're robots." Josh sighed. "I could swear I saw one of them glitching out when they jumped for that Pelican."

    "They aren't some damned machines, you twit." Morgan spoke up for the first time. "They're human bein's. I talked with the leader, one-one-five before the mission."

    Morgan pulled Amber's helmet from his bed side stand. Holding it up, the others looked at it for a moment.

    "He noticed that I had modified an otherwise small helmet to fit my head." Morgan continued. "I told him about Amber. How it had once been her helmet. Couldn't see shit in his helmet, but his body language told me he felt sorry for me."

    "Robots don't feel emotions. They aren't some synthetic humans, they're people like you or me." Morgan sighed. "Though, I think they may be above human."

    "What do you mean?" Craig asked, turning to him.

    "A patrol encountered us in the forest. Three of them soldiers killed them faster than my eye could follow." Morgan shook his head. "When the assault first started, one of them was runnin' so fast I could barely follow 'em, and when a soldier poked 'is head out the window, the Spartan had a shotgun in their hands and fired it in their cheek before I could count to two."

    "So a robot felt emotions. Big whoop." Josh sat up. "I'm sorry sir, but I refuse to believe ANY of what they accomplished was humanly possible."

    "Than maybe you should refer to the state Fletcher came to us in." Morgan growled. "His leg was broken inverted, and his elbow had been broken upwards. That Spartan had done it. He remembered what I said about Amber, how I blamed Fletcher for that raid."

    "You're saying he severely injured the high priority target, because you inclined that he was the cause of Amber's death?" Phil asked, placing the razor back down on the sink shelf.

    "If that isn't a show of some kind of human emotion, I don't know what is." Craig nodded, agreeing with Morgan. "I think Morgan's right. Though don't you find it a little weird they only used first initials followed by the number?"

    "I prefer it to the total black ink when it comes to ONI's shit." Phil shrugged. "That why we only resorted to using nicknames boss?"

    "Exactly. They were good soldiers, did a fine job too. Still, I believe in trust for trust. They couldn't offer us a name, we weren't going to let them call us by ours."

    The room fell silent for the first time in eight years. The ODSTs, having set their mission parameters around locating and capturing Terrence Fletcher, had finally earned themselves some free time. There was still the job of cleaning up the off branches of the Insurrectionist movement, along with tracing up the ladder beyond Fletcher.

    However, ONI had told them to take some time off. They were more than due some leave. Rubbing just under his eyes, Morgan yawned. As the others looked over towards him.

    "I know you guys were looking forward to some time off, but I think it's time we get some of our friends in Section I to look for Blaine." Morgan said. "It's been eight years, and I need to know where he is."


    "Thank god that's over with." Lorelei huffed, stretching her arms. "That Tongue guy was really starting to get on my nerves."

    Lorelei was easily the most stable in the group. Nothing really seemed to bother her, a trait that Blaine had to admire her for. She was to the books and quiet, but wasn't entirely disconnected from the others. When someone had struck a nerve, however, Lorelei was sure to let them know about it.

    "If nothing else, they talked way too much." Katherine sighed, gently rolling her neck. "Reminds me of Jorge. Always speaking his mind."

    "I mean," Lorelei paused, holding her hands in a dumbfounded expression. "What kind of nicknames were those anyways? Tongue? Gross. Brain? Gross. Hyde? What does that even mean?"

    "Well, at least Scotch made sense." Katherine shrugged. "I'm fairly certain that man had a Scottish accent."

    Lorelei giggled at the joke. They had taken their Mjolnir suits off now that they had returned to their barracks. Since they had gotten the suits, they were expected to keep them on around the ship. Even in the presence of Mendez, Doctor Halsey, or anyone else affiliated with the project.

    "Speaking of that man, Blaine seemed awfully different in his presence, didn't he?" Katherine asked.

    "I wouldn't know, I wasn't there." Lorelei shrugged. "I was too busy listening to some moron mumbling in my right ear for a half hour."

    With that, Lorelei raised her right hand up to her ear, snapping twice.  Katherine chuckled at Lorelei, sitting on the edge of her cot.

    "I'm not sure exactly what was going on." Katherine said. "Was he proving to their Leader that he was worthy of their time?"

    "Doubtful, Blaine's pretty modest when he's not leading the other Spartans." Lorelei shrugged. "It's not like him to show off. You sure it's not because that Tongue fella kept referring to us as freaks?"

    "I'm certain. Blaine's been through more emotional abuse than that. The words of someone he barely knows, unless it's a direct superior, don't usually bother him."

    "Still, did you see the HVT when Blaine came back?" Lorelei shook her head. "What was once a man looked like a marionette, minus the strings. He's never shown so much brutality before."

    "How could I not? I was in charge of making sure Fletcher didn't die before we got him on board." Katherine sighed. "I hope he's okay."

    "I saw him and Jorge go to the gym. If Jorge can't cheer him up, nothing else will." Lorelei replied, as the two had a decent laugh.


    Blaine grunted as his right fist struck the punching bag. The leather strapped bag of beads banged at the sound of the mighty punch. Swinging a swift left jab, he launched a flurry of punches into the bag. He didn't know why his blood had boiled so hard at the look of Terrence Fletcher.

    He was concerned for the mission, sure. However, Blaine had never been so uncontrollably angry before. With a steady strike, the punching bag released another muffled bang. No-one had gotten hurt on his team, it was a mission successfully done, right? Why was he fretting over it so much?

    Striking the bag again and again, Blaine tried to wrap his head around it. His actions against Terrence Fletcher had nearly killed their one chance at finding the heart of the Insurrection at large. Still, orders were to ensure that Fletcher didn't leave, at any costs. He knew what he had done was for Scotch's wife.

    Why did that matter to him, though? He was taught not to relate himself to anyone but his fellow Spartans. The moment he showed weakness was the moment he could be exploited.

    "You good, sir?" Jorge asked, walking up to him.

    "Yeah." Blaine said quickly, throwing another swift right hook into the bag.

    "Sir, I know you're lying." Jorge said. "If it was about bein' called freaks, don't worry about that. Lorelei put that scumbag to shame."

    Blaine sighed, before throwing a full blown haymaker at the bag. It slammed one more time, barely maintaining connect with the ceiling. Craning his neck, Blaine rolled his shoulders.

    "Before the drop, their squad leader told me something that didn't sit right with me." Blaine said. "Terrence Fletcher had supposedly led to his wife's death. His wife and him served in that squad together."

    "So, you felt bad for him." Jorge crossed his arms. "If you're sorry for him, why are you so upset sir?"

    "I dunno. I haven't figured it out myself yet." Blaine sighed, turning to the water bottle to his right.

    Blaine chugged the twenty ounce bottle of water, before crushing it in his hand and tossing it into a recycling receptacle. Working his way over to the bench press, Blaine laid down upon the bench. He fixed the gravity in the room to put it right at his body's sweet spot, at around nine-hundred and fifty pounds, just a bit over three times his weight.

    It was late enough on the ship that Blaine knew no-one would be around, so he used the gym without his armor, knowing that he would have no visitors, save his other Spartan brethren. Jorge sat behind him to spot, while Blaine began to lift his reps.

    "I mean, I felt bad for him, sure." Blaine grunted, pushing the bar up with some challenge. "Still, it's none of my concern. So why does it bother me so much? I haven't lost-"

    Blaine thought about it for a moment. He was about to say he hadn't lost anyone, but remembered all of their fallen comrades. Was he angered that Terrence Fletcher and the whole of the Insurrection were the cause of his Spartan brethren being enlisted and subsequently killed?

    The thought angered him now for certain. Still, it hadn't been the entire case. His anger towards Fletcher resided elsewhere.

    "It's not that you lost someone." Jorge interrupted his thought. "I felt the same way. When Katherine drop kicked those soldiers and fell on the floor. The way she was lyin' on the floor like that?"

    "You're saying we-" Blaine grunted as he lifted the bar again. "-subconsciously feared she was wounded?"

    "Think about it, Blaine." Jorge said with a nod. "She was nearly had by that soldier in the window. If it weren't for her lightning fast reflexes, well-"

    Blaine thought about it for a moment. Maybe that was it, as an extension of being angered that Fletcher had not only killed Scotch's wife with the Insurrection. Or that the Insurrection itself was the reason the Spartans existed. No, it ran beneath that. Scotch's wife had been a member of the man's squad and was killed. Blaine was angry, because, after seeing Katherine on the floor, he imagined that she had been killed too.

    Blaine had witnessed two of his siblings die in front of his very eyes. Spartan one-zero-seven and Butch. If that had happened to Katherine, especially on a raid against one of the men responsible. Blaine wouldn't have been sure how he would have reacted.

    It was just as much getting Scotch some much needed closure, as it had been Blaine's act of vengeance for his fallen Spartan brothers and sisters. Grunting once more, Blaine rested the bar on the stand. Swapping places, Blaine spotted for Jorge while he did his reps.

    "You're right." Blaine nodded. "If anything were to happen to you guys, I don't know what would happen. I lost Butch already, not to mention the others."

    "So you do care." Katherine smiled, walking into the gym. "Lorelei said she saw you guys coming in here. How are you feeling?"

    "You know I'd die for any of you." Blaine replied, his focus on Jorge's lifts. "Much better now, thanks. I just had something on my mind."

    "What is it? If I'm not out of line for asking?" Katherine asked.

    "I thought of when that guy in the window almost shot you, and then not even five minutes when you were lying on the ground-" Blaine paused. "I feared what would happen if I lost you, any of you. That ODST, Scotch? He told me that Fletcher was a direct reason for his wife's death."

    "Apparently, she had been on the same squad as him and died in an Insurrectionist raid." Blaine shook his head, helping Jorge place the bar back onto the rack. "It was a double whammy, a spouse and a squad-mate."

    Walking over towards him, Katherine hugged Blaine. Blaine paused for a moment before returning the sentiment.

    "You guys are way to important to me, for me to leave you that easily." she said with a smile.



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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 22nd 2016, 4:13 am

    Urgent Message Incoming!
    Sender: Stratus, Drake ONI Section III.
    Message begin:

    Doctor Halsey,

    From our perspective here at the Office, it appears that Project [REDACTED] has been a nominal success so far. Words cannot express how thrilled we are at how well the process has gone. Of course, the issue remains about the level of secrecy that the Project must maintain.

    This brings me to the next topic I'm about to address. I'll spare you the details, Ms. Halsey, because I am aware that you are a very busy woman. I was at the water cooler the other day, and you know who happened to stop by?

    Bryce Howard. If you don't recall, Bryce is the head of communications over at ONI Section II. You know what our friend says to me?

    "Hey Drake, know anything about a missing child in New Alexandria?"

    I asked him what he meant, and gosh darn it, he shared with me the most interesting holo tape! Apparently a few months back, a loner on the streets begging for cR ran into a 'missing kid from New Alexandria' by the name of [REDACTED], and was calling his old buddies from his childhood to tell them he was alive!

    At first, I was just as confused as our friend Mr. Howard. Until I seemed to recall looking over the dossier of one of your 'recruits'. Curious, I decided to gaze over it again, just to be sure it wasn't a coincidence.

    You see, Ms. Halsey, apparently Spartan-115 is a 'missing kid from New Alexandria' following a tragic scandal at [REDACTED], where [REDACTED]. Wouldn't you know it? The subject's name was [REDACTED]!

    Do you feel the same level of shock as I do? I mean, what a coincidence, am I right?!

    Unfortunately for us both, Ms. Halsey, I don't believe in coincidences. If I did, Ms. Halsey, I wouldn't be sitting here right now.

    Attached is the audio recording that Bryce Howard had intercepted from across Waypoint.

    We here at the Office have taken the liberty of removing this loner off of the streets, along with whoever he contacted via Waypoint. I need not remind you how vital it is that this Project remains out of the public eyes. This was a slip-up in regards to the containment of information.

    We questioned the loner, a [REDACTED] Rutger, what your recruit said to him. Rutger mentioned something about your recruit being a 'college student'. The fact that this moron ate up the atrocious bluff that a [REDACTED] YEAR OLD was a college student only aims to help the situation you are currently in.

    As far as we are aware, the leak has been contained. The subject has little knowledge, if at all, regarding the Program. That being said, Mr. Rutger will be escorted to MIDNIGHT and held there for the foreseeable future.

    Put bluntly, Doctor: GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!

    For one thing, I absolutely despise that pompous prick Howard. So if I have to deal with him in regards to a 'missing kid being found' again? I will not be a very happy camper.

    If I'm not happy, Doctor, neither are you.


    Drake Stratus.

    Senior Operations Director, Office of Naval Intelligence
    Commander, UNSC Navy.

    Moscow, Earth.


    Attachment found:

    The communications and any files transmitted within, any subsequent message in reply or forward, and any derivative works are property of the Office of Naval Intelligence, United Nations Space Command. Any information within is confidential and intended solely for the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. Failure to uphold this confidentiality is a punishable offense, pursuant to the legal codex of the United Earth Government, United Nations Space Command, and the related local/colony/planetary law of both the sender and the recipient. If you have received this message in error, please contact the Office of Naval Intelligence immediately.



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    Post  Shad0wChas3r on March 22nd 2016, 11:57 pm

    The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.

    -Ernest Hemingway.

    "I don't like the sound of this." Craig shook his head, his eyes peering around them. "We shouldn't be here. We represent, well, y'know."

    "Relax." Josh replied. "My source and I go way back."

    "Way back in debt, if I recall." Phil smirked, patting Josh's back. "Wiped the floor with you in poker."

    "That was a fluke! Dude's an actor." Josh scoffed. "His poker face puts Scotch to shame."

    The ODSTs had been walking down one of the side streets in New Alexandria. During their temporary leave of absence, they decided to try and find any lead to Blaine's location, even after so many years. Morgan stood at the ready, he was determined more now than ever to find Blaine.

    "Anyways, let me do the talking." Josh said. "Guy gets really anxious around people he doesn't know."

    Josh approached the only door in the alley, tapping against it three solid times. Above the door, the lone window seemed to shift slightly. Josh knew there was a black curtain placed there. Josh pulled a credit chit from his pocket, waving it into the window. The door cracked open.

    "What do YOU want?" a man asked from the darkness.

    "I've come to see the Crow."  Josh turned to the others. "I need information, and I'm willing to pay good money for it."

    The man snorted, as Josh passed the credit chit through the door. The ODSTs, dressed in only their civilian clothes, tensed as the door closed. After a moment, there was click, and the door opened. A barrel chested man stepped forward, towering over them.

    "You may enter, but you've got five minutes, Durgin."

    "Rex, buddy, how's the wife, the kids?"

    "Dead, asshole." Rex sneered. "Get inside before I rip your fucking dick off and feed you it."

    "Whatever gets you off." Josh replied, patting the man on the chest. "Let's go."

    The four ODSTs brushed past Rex and into the darkened hallway. The beat of a set of drums thumped against their ears. Trumpets, horns, and even the occasional piano accompanied the drums. They couldn't make out the vocals either, but they knew someone was singing. Rather tragically too, they noticed.

    Rex stomped past them, blocking the rest of the hallway off. Nodding his head to his right, he opened the door adjacent to them. The four ODSTs stepped inside, before it slammed behind them. After a few moments, the music in the other room stopped outright. The door opened once more, Rex standing there.

    With a grunt, the man led them to the main-stage area. Morgan and Craig wondered what kind of a venue a theater was for an underground intelligence cartel. One man stood, center stage hair blackened with a tint of purple mixed throughout. A dark brown trench coat covered his shoulders, with a black bowler hat in his hands.

    "Durgin, my dearest friend. You've disturbed the latest rehearsal for a game of poker?" the man turned, his trench coat swishing in the motion. "Wasn't one domination enough for you?"

    "Crow." Josh clenched his fists. "I'd love to try and win back my money, but this isn't the time."

    "I hardly believe you've come for a plain visit, my friend." the Crow replied. "I see you've brought friends here. Perhaps you've come to finally commit yourself to the world of acting?"

    "Fuck that!" Craig spat. "You couldn't pay me enough to put on make up and stand in front of that many people."

    "How rude." Crow sighed, sitting on a wooden chair beside him. "We haven't been properly introduced, and I feel like you already don't like me. What a shame."

    Morgan didn't know why entirely, but the man's white mask paint job, with the two triangles under the eyes really irritated him. Perhaps it was the way the man held himself compared to them. Perhaps it was the fact that, in Craig's outburst, a multitude of armed men appeared at the balcony, numerous red lines appearing over Craig.

    "Relax." Josh said. "He didn't mean anything by it, Crow. We came for information, and you're the only guy in New Alexandria who can get it."

    "Oh I'm flattered, please go on!" Crow flicked his right foot up, placing both hands delicately over his kneecaps.

    Snapping his fingers, the armed men on the balcony rested their rifles across their chests. Holding a hand flat out towards the seats, Crow beckoned them to sit.

    "I'd rather stand, if you don't mind." Phil said. "I've been cold all day, and these lights are a blessing."

    "Oh you like them?" Crow chuckled. "The director just had them installed. Very well. So, let's start with some introductions, shall we?"

    "Right." Josh nodded. "This is Scotch, you know Brain, and the man your men were aiming at is Hyde."

    "Oooh, a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference! How quaint!" Crow smiled. "I believe I've yet to introduce myself. I am the star of this performance. Clyde 'Crow' Murder!"

    "Scotch, go ahead." Josh turned to Morgan, who stepped forward.

    "Do I call you Crow? Or Mr. Murder?" Morgan asked.

    "Whichever you prefer, just don't call me late to dinner!" Crow laughed, slapping his knee.

    Morgan already knew he was going to hate this man.

    "Tongue tells me that you are the best at gathering information." Morgan continued.

    "You'd be surprised how much gossiping happens on my streets!" Crow replied. "The theater is the place for dirty little secrets and drama, after all!"

    "Right." Morgan continued, attempting to keep his calm. "First, what's your price?"

    "It depends on the info you want, friend." Crow grinned.

    Morgan was an intelligence officer from ONI Section III. Usually he would be serving under Section I, the true information seekers. However, the SCORE initiative worked in direct correlation with the Orion project, of which he was a member. The mere fact that this weasel was capable of gathering more information in a day than the Office itself made his blood boil.

    It also didn't help that he had to resort to asking this flamboyant piece of trash for information on his son. Weren't ONI charged with keeping track of the general populace? How could they have misplaced his son for so long?

    "Eight years ago, not even a stone throw away from this theater, a tragedy took place at the Orphanage. I have no doubts you've heard about it?" Morgan asked.

    "Everyone whose anyone in this town has heard of it." Crow crossed his right leg over his left. "I can tell that it's more than just a interesting piece of news, friend. You're connected with it, and you want information about it."

    "Let me guess." Crow sat up, his grin never faltering. "The woman that went missing shortly afterwards, was she your wife?"

    "No." Morgan said, his thoughts flashing back to when he had thrashed her. "It's my son."

    "Oh." Crow laughed for a moment, before leaning forward. "You're the dad of the missing boy!"

    "Yeah, I am." Morgan crossed his arms. "Have you seen or heard anything about his whereabouts? I've been looking everywhere for him."

    Crow leaned back, before swapping his legs to the opposite side. With the bowler cap gently placed over his knees, he drummed his fingers along his leg, thinking about something.

    "Maybe I have, and maybe I haven't." Crow grinned once more. "Depends on what you're willing to pay."

    "That's not how this is going to go." Morgan shook his head. "You give me the information I want, Crow, and I'll pay you everything you deserve."

    "I'm afraid it doesn't work like that, thou fawning beef-witted miscreant." Crow once again sat forward, his eyes glaring at Morgan.

    Morgan's fists clenched, and he could feel the lasers pointing at him.

    "For your insults, I'm doubling my base price." Crow folded his hands together. "Choose your next line carefully, my lovely co-star, or this could be your curtain call."

    "Alright then." Morgan nodded, gritting his teeth.

    Morgan's blood boiled in his veins. He didn't come all this way to be some prissy scunner's play thing. He came for information, and he was going to have it. Craig and Phil knew what was about to happen, and while the gunner's had their attention on Morgan, pulled their pistols and fired.

    In unison, the armed men groaned and fell to the floor. Crow yelped as Morgan marched towards him. Rex noticed this, sprinting over and grabbing Morgan by the arm. Morgan held his arm fast, however, turning to face Rex.

    Rex's eyes widened, as Morgan glared at him. In that instant, Morgan's left hand lashed out, a combat knife in-bedding itself in Rex's throat. Rex gurgled, descending to his knees, his grip on Morgan's arm loosening. Using the handle of his blade as added grip, Morgan twisted the man's head sharply in one direction, snapping his neck.

    "Y-you can't do this!" Crow stammered, while the ODSTs scanned the room for reinforcements. "I have my rights!"

    Morgan removed the knife from the dead man's throat, placing it back in the holster he had hidden underneath his shirt. Marching towards Crow, the man tried to scurry away. His large, cumbersome trench coat, however, was ultimately his downfall. Morgan's hands fell upon the back of Crow's neck. The augments he had received as a member of Orion had gifted him with a modest amount of bonus strength.

    Just enough to throw Crow several feet behind him and into the seats of the empty theater. Crow yelped, having landed on his right wrist. He winced, attempting to move the broken joint. Upon looking up though, he saw Morgan standing over him. Grabbing him by the throat, Morgan dragged him across the floor and up the stairs.

    Crow struggled to break free, grunting every time his body slammed against the stairs leading up to the stage. The other ODSTs took a moment to stare at Morgan, who avoided making eye contact with them. Crow pleaded for help, as Morgan dragged him across the stage and to the nearby hallway.

    "Please, I'll talk! Just don't do anything abrasive! It'll be free of charge! PLEASE!" Crow pleaded.

    The ensuing laughter from the squad leader echoed throughout the hallway and back onto the main stage, sending chills down the ODSTs necks. Craig and Phil looked at each other, while Josh stared in disbelief at what had just transpired. They were going to have a hell of a time explaining this one.

    Craig made a motion to follow Morgan, as Phil placed a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. Whether or not they had liked it, Morgan was at his wit's end and had finally snapped. Within mere moments, they heard the blood curdling screams of a man in immense pain.

    Craig sighed and hurried into the darkened hallway once again. Josh and Phil following swiftly behind him. In one of the off branching rooms, they heard a heavy crash, followed by the howls of a man who just broke a bone.

    Craig barged through the door to see Morgan standing on top of Crow's shoulder blade, bracing his right arm up. The maneuver was to put pressure on the man's shoulder blade and dislocate his target's arm in the swiftest, yet most painful way he could. Craig and Phil tackled Morgan to the floor, who growled and roared at them, trying to struggle free of them.

    "Get a hold of yourself man!" Craig grit his teeth. "You can't get information from a dead man!"

    "You're lucky we covered your last power trip, Scotch." Phil grunted. "You know what shit we went through then, the questioning and psyche tests! ONI's going to be suspicious of your mental state if you keep this shit up! You get discharged, and you will NEVER find your son!"

    Josh, on the other hand, worked his way to Crow. Who writhed on the floor in immense pain.

    "Remember when we were playing cards that night on the cruise, and I told you about my friends?" Josh crouched to Crow's level. "I told you that Scotch played a mean hand, didn't I? So why, in all things holy, did you decide to fuck with him?"

    "I know you're a professional bluffer." Josh continued slapping Crow's cheek a few times. "Now, you've gone and gotten folded. You see, we know you've transferred intel from ONI servers to Insurrection. We were willing to give you a clean slate, if you gave us your information."

    "Instead, you tried to extort us. ONI does the tricking, bub, not the other way around." Josh continued. "So now, we're going to go on a nice trip to the mountains. When we get there, you're going to tell us everything you know about the whereabouts of that missing child."

    Crow nodded his head swiftly, his lower lip quivering in a mixture of shock and distress.

    "Because if you don't, I won't be able to stop the angry Scotsman over there from recreating Hamlet with your pathetic ass." Josh growled.

    "I'll talk, I'll talk. You have my word!" Crow said, dropping the stereotypical flamboyant voice for his normal, deeper voice. "I'll even pay you back everything I took from ya!"

    "Money don't mean shit to me." Josh replied, pulling Crow up by the collar of his shirt. "My friend's son is missing, and I promised to help find him. I don't break promises."


    Luckily for the ODSTs, there had been an incinerator located to the rear of the facility. It was grizzly business, but they had managed to fit the three men inside before turning the heat all the way up. Phil had located the security system in the theater, thanking his lucky stars that there had been some downtime about twenty minutes before in the film, where Crow had dismissed the cast of his show and left the stage.

    Using that to his advantage, he cut the portion containing their raid entirely from the feed. This included the cleanup and the like following it. They had even gone to the janitor's closet and used some ammonia to clean the DNA on the carpet from the pools of blood. After several hours into the night, the incident at the theater was practically non-existent.

    If there was one thing the ODSTs were good at, it was removing their traces. He had done this all remotely, while in a civilian vehicle headed out of the city. The Crow had been so nice as to lend his vehicle to them on their night drive.

    Josh sat in the seat beside Phil, watching over his shoulder, while Morgan and Craig resided in the front. The Crow had been bound and gagged, placed in the trunk of the vehicle.

    "So, you good?" Craig asked, turning to Morgan, who stared out the passenger's window.

    "Oh, I'm right as rain lad." Morgan shook his head angrily. "Of course I'm not fuckin' okay. My son's been out there for eight years, and I've spent every day worried that he was either dead or raised by someone else."

    "The only actual lead I have to him insulted me in an attempt to force my hand. I'm at my wit's end, and I'm not getting any younger, neither is my son."  Morgan grit his teeth. "I'd be alright in knowing he's alive and safe, even if I wasn't raising him. I just want to know where he is."

    Craig nodded solemnly, focusing on the road ahead. He turned off to a dirt road, leading the nearby lake reserve. It wasn't much of a tourist spot, so it was the perfect place to stay out of the way and get their answers in peace.

    "Mum was an important woman in our lives." Morgan sighed. "Amber was the only one to fill that hole when Mum died. I remember sittin' with her on the hill overlooking Killamanjaro during boot camp."

    "Amber had always wanted to be a mother, seein's how her mother wasn't there for her in her childhood." Morgan wiped his eyes. "She was so happy when Blaine was born, a dream that both of us shared, finally realized."

    Phil and Josh looked to each other, before turning back to Morgan.

    "You guys know what she said to me, the morning she died?" Morgan asked, turning to the twins in the back seat. "Promise me you'll watch over Blaine."

    "I haven't fulfilled her last request." Morgan said. "Fourteen years after her death, and I only saw him until he was five."

    Craig nodded, parking the car at the shore of the lake. The four ODSTs stepped out of the car, as Josh opened the trunk. The Crow stared up at them, hands and feet tied together. Craig grabbed him by the collar of his trench coat, before throwing him to the ground. Josh and Phil helped him onto his knees.

    "We're going to pull the gag out. You make a noise louder than your inside voice, and the Scotsman's going to methodically rip your teeth out one by one." Craig growled. "You would be wise to be quiet."

    Pulling the gag out, Crow panted, trying to catch his breath.

    "Start from the beginning, what do you know about the kid's whereabouts?" Phil said, as Crow scanned between them.

    Crow hesitated for a moment, as Josh grabbed one of the man's broken fingers, applying just enough pressure to send a jolt of pain through his body. Covering Crow's mouth with his other hand, he heard the muffled screams of the man.

    "Mmphkay mmaphkay!" Crow groaned.

    "Talk, now." Craig sneered.

    "Alright, I'll tell you." Crow flinched. "Rumor at the time was the kid was seen sleeping in a maple tree."

    "Really?!" Morgan growled. "That's all you've got?! Why wasn't it reported?"

    "Nonono!" Crow stammered. "The homeless rate of children in New Alexandria was and is sky high. A homeless kid wasn't entirely a rare sighting."

    "This kid was bathed and regularly fed." Phil said. "Who is your source?"

    "I don't remember his name. I just remember he was in the cast of my first production on that stage. He claimed that he thought he had seen the kid from the next morning's article." Crow continued. "He said he was going to tell the police, but expected a hefty reward."

    "Bullshit." Josh growled, covering the man's mouth and squeezing the broken finger again.

    "MMMPH! MMMPH!" Crow groaned through Josh's hands.

    Releasing his hand, Crow started to sob, tears streaming down his cheeks. The act had totally ruined the face pain on the man's cheeks, causing it to mix together in a gross fashion.

    "I swear it's the truth!" Crow said. "B-but I know more!"

    "One of the kids from the Orphanage took up an internship at the theater a couple of months back." Crow continued. "Told me that he had been involved in the event, that the missing kid had beaten the snot out of him and his friend."

    The ODSTs looked at each other for a moment, before Morgan crouched down, gripping the man's throat forcefully, squeezing.

    "I don't like my time wasted, clown." Morgan sneered. "What does that have to do with anything?"

    Releasing his hand, Crow coughed, before lifting his head to begin speaking again.

    "The intern, kid named Robert, was in the backroom of the stage. When I passed by, I noticed he was on Waypoint with someone. It wasn't tolerated in the staff, so I was going to discipline him." Crow said, flinching as Morgan motioned again. "W-wait! Please, let me finish!"

    "Fine." Morgan grit his teeth. "Clock's ticking Bozo."

    "I stopped when I heard the person he was talking to on the other end mention something about a Blaine character." Crow continued. "If I'm not mistaken, your son's name is Blaine, yes?"

    "Yeah, it is." Morgan nodded. "Continue."

    "S-so I heard the other guy saying that he had just seen Blaine, and a couple of his friends in New Alexandria." Crow continued. "My sources told me that the fellow on the other end of the line was that Charlie kid, who apparently caused the event in the first place."

    "Come to think of it," Crow pondered. "It was the day that the nice woman over at Lethbridge Industrial disappeared."

    The ODSTs looked to each other for a moment. The secretary at Lethbridge Industrial, according to the newspaper, had mysteriously disappeared shortly after the head executive; Simon DeWinter, had been taken into custody.

    "What else?" Craig asked. "There has to be more?!"

    "I got nothing else." Crow shrugged, before pausing. "Actually, I might. That Robert kid never showed up to his internship again after that. Disappeared out of New Alexandria altogether, according to my sources."

    Craig pulled Phil aside for a moment, walking away from Crow.

    "You think he's telling the truth?" Craig asked. "He sounds sincere enough, and a man with that kind of ego isn't likely to piss off his captors in these kinds of situations. They love themselves way too much to die."

    "I dunno for certain. That kid, Charlie, is a piece of work. He could have lied to that Robert kid, who may've had a guilty conscious." Phil shrugged.

    "Think about it." Craig whispered. "If what he says is true, that puts Blaine in New Alexandria on the day Simon DeWinter gets captured by Orange Team."

    "You're suggesting that-?" Phil asked.

    "Yes." Craig nodded. "That cadet from several months ago, and that Spartan from the other day is Blaine. The proof is there, if everything we heard is the truth."

    "Blaine is supposed fourteen years old, Craig." Phil shook his head. "There is no way on Earth a fourteen year old boy, even with the right genetics, would be as tall or as strong as that Spartan."

    "Those Spartans were very hush hush. Remember that woman we talked to, prior to briefing with the Spartans?" Craig pressed on. "Doctor Halsey? We met her once before, when we encountered that cadet in the hall."

    "She seemed in a hurry to get the cadet away from Morgan, didn't you notice that?"

    "I think you're reaching a bit too far, Craig." Phil sighed. "I know you're optimistic about finding Blaine, but suggesting ONI would kidnap a five year old and pop out a super human is absurd."

    "Really?" Craig asked. "-but the rest of the practices we've followed after the years aren't out of line? The MIDNIGHT facility is only known by ONI higher-ups and the soldiers that have the authorization to throw prisoners in there."

    "ONI makes people disappear, it's what they do!" Craig continued. "You're telling me, it's not out of ONI's list of known inhuman practices to kidnap and induct a young kid into the military?"

    "I'm saying that we ARE ONI." Phil continued, raising his voice slightly. "Even if what you said is true, what are we going to do about it? If it's as secret as you say it is, the moment we show that we know, ONI is going to have a field day with us."

    "I love Morgan, man." Phil said. "He's like the dad I never had, even if he is five years older than me. I'd rather have him think his son's dead, than to go chasing conspiracy theories, and spending the rest of my life on a fucking asteroid."

    "We don't have to go chasing conspiracies." Craig insisted. "We know Blaine is alive, we've MET him, twice now. If we tell Morgan-"

    "-he's going to have a fit." Phil shook his head. "You see what he did to this man, just because he didn't answer him immediately. If we tell him the military he's served under for decades now stole his son and made him into a top secret soldier of unknown proportions, he's going to put a target on all of our backs!"

    "He's going to know something is up though." Craig insisted. "We can at least talk him down, insist that he can still see Blaine, if he doesn't throw a tantrum."

    "What about Blaine, then?" Phil asked. "You saw how formal that Spartan was, if he was Blaine, whatever they did to convince him his father was gone forever will be null. I don't know what he's capable of, but if he finds out they lied to him after all these years, we could put him at risk too."

    Craig and Phil flinched as Morgan slammed a hand on each of their shoulders suddenly, and very painfully.

    "You boys've been talkin' for quite some time." Morgan asked. "Either you know something I don't, or your makin' out with each other. Either way, time is wasting. So, out with it."

    "We had some possible ideas." Phil said. "Nothing concrete though. We were mostly discussing whether or not Mr. Murder here is telling the truth or not."

    Morgan nodded curtly, before walking over towards Crow. Taking a handful of Crow's hair, Morgan placed a pistol to the back of his head.

    "You value your life?!" Morgan snarled. "You best start telling me why you deserve to live!"

    "I-I told you everything I know. I was a real ass earlier and I-I'm sorry!" Crow begged. "I-I don't know where your son is, I only know w-what I hear."

    "Suggestions?" Morgan asked, turning to the ODSTs around him.

    "Calm down, Scotch." Phil said. "He gave us everything he knows. He wasn't directly involved with Blaine's disappearance. He's only a civilian that runs a underground information nexus."

    "Brains is right." Craig said. "Don't punish him for fulfilling his end of the deal. We offered him a second chance in exchange for whatever info he had to spare. He gave us that, so we owe him the same."

    "If you kill that man, you're no better than an Insurrectionist." Josh said. "We don't kill innocent men."

    "This men extorts people, families, for personal gain." Morgan growled. "He has sold strictly confidential ONI information to the Insurrectionists. Then, he had the gall to think that a couple of men with mere peashooters were enough to stop a grieving man from getting information."

    "You're better than this." Craig sighed. "Don't do it. Don't become like the men that killed Amber."

    "What then?" Morgan asked. "We let him go, and he'll let the entire UNSC know that we assaulted him and tortured him. ONI will breath down our throats."

    "We send him to MIDNIGHT, ONI will ask why a group of on leave soldiers were in the general vicinity of a known and wanted criminal, let alone how to find him. They'll get after us for that."

    "P-Please, I won't say a word!" Crow pleaded.

    "We don't know that." Morgan snarled. "You could just say that and then go against us later anyways."

    "N-No I won't, please!" Crow begged.

    "Even if I did, you're battered and broken. People would start to ask?"

    "Then I fell down the stairs! I was mugged on the way out of the theater!" Crow listed off excuses. "I'll even quit the information industry! You'll never hear from or about me again!"

    Morgan pressed the pistol harder against the man's head, pulling his hair even harder.

    "How can I be so sure that you're telling the truth, about anything you've said?"

    "I have a family, sir." Crow began to cry. "A beautiful wife, a daughter and a son. I do what I do to support them."

    "When I read that article, eight years ago. My heart was heavy with grief for the poor missing kid. I started to fear what I would do if it were one of my kids." Crow continued. "In my pocket, in my wallet. There's a picture of them. You can see for yourself."

    Morgan snarled, not releasing his grip of the man. Craig stepped forward, fishing for the wallet in the man's pocket, making sure that Crow wasn't just baiting someone in for an attack. Surely enough, he found the wallet. Opening it, a family of four smiled on the very same stage where they had met Crow.

    "He's not lying." Craig said, showing Morgan the picture.

    "You did a hell of a job showing compassion to my son earlier." Morgan growled.

    "It was all an act!" Crow sobbed. "I put it on every time to give the illusion I'm some big strong info broker. My rates are actually relatively cheap, I just extorted the people that were rude to me."

    "Please, sir." Crow cried. "Don't take me away from my kids. Don't put my kids in a similar situation as yours."

    Morgan frowned as he removed the pistol from the man's head. Releasing his grasp, Crow fell forward, curling up and crying tears of relief. Morgan holstered his pistol, before looking down at his hands. Rain drops began to lightly splash on the top of his head, as he peered down at the Crow.

    "Thank you." Crow said frantically. "Thank you! I-I'm sorry I couldn't help you more."

    Leaning down, Morgan stared into Crow's face, who looked back at him in shock.

    "One word." Morgan said coldly. "One peep about us, and I will hunt you down."

    "I-I won't! I won't forget this kindness!"

    "For your sake. You'd better." Craig said, patting the Crow down for weapons.

    When he was satisfied that Crow was clean, he untied the man's hand. The Crow's right wrist was broken, his middle finger on the same hand broken, and the shoulder hosting the arm dislocated.

    "This is going to hurt a lot, but let it serve as a reminder." Craig warned.

    With one swift motion, the Crow's shoulder was popped back into place. The man bit onto his fist to avoid yelling, while Craig continued the act on his finger and wrist.

    "Here's what's going to happen." Craig said to all attending. "We're riding together to the city line. When we get there, Tongue, Scotch, you'll get out of the car. Brains and I will be driving you to your home."

    "B-but I-?" Crow spoke up, as Morgan reached for his pistol again. "S-sorry."

    "Brains and I will escort you into your home. You will remain silent as we explain to her that we found you beaten in the alleyway." Craig continued. "You will then tell her that you were mugged by a pair of delinquents, but you couldn't see them in the darkness."

    "If you say anything that deviates from it, I will not hesitate to, well, you know." Craig finished. "Understood?"


    "Good, Tongue, Scotch? We'll be meeting at the LZ."


    "Clyde?!" a woman cried at the door, as the car pulled into the driveway.

    Craig stepped out, walking around back to the drivers side back door. Phil stepped out from the passenger side, closing the door behind him and walking around. Both of the ODSTs eased the Crow out of his car.

    "Oh my god, what happened to him?"

    "Found him on our nightly walk." Craig said, helping Crow up the stairs. "He was in some pretty bad shape. He's lucky Mr. Dudley is a trained medical professional."

    "Oh my word!" the woman said.

    "I'm okay, sweetheart." Crow groaned. "These men patched me right up."

    "What happened?"

    "I don't know. I was just leaving the theater when these teens showed up outta no-where." the Crow grunted as they walked up the stairs. "They demanded money, and I told them to shove it."

    "Probably your latest customers from your info thing!" she scolded him. "I told you that was dangerous work, Clyde! What if you had died, huh? What about our kids?"

    "I know." Clyde said. "I'm stopping the info brokering. It's too dangerous. Besides, my name is pretty well known here. I make a decent wage just acting."

    Craig and Phil placed him on their couch. When the woman wasn't looking, Craig produced a small credit chit. It was worth two-hundred thousand cR. With one last stern glare, Craig stood.

    "Please, we have to thank you somehow?" the woman asked.

    "That won't be necessary. Seeing him alive and well is good enough for us." Craig said. "Trust me."

    "Oh, are you fans of his?" she asked.

    "Yes." Phil nodded. "We got to meet our favorite star, and know that he's home safe. That's all we need."

    With that, Phil and Craig left the home. The woman tried to stop them, to offer anything for compensation, but they had been gone well before they had.

    "You think he'll squawk?" Phil asked.

    "For two-hundred thousand cR?" Craig chuckled. "He'd better not, or Morgan's going to be the least of his problems."



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      Current date/time is May 23rd 2019, 6:43 am