Watching a planet getting glassed is the most beautiful, yet terrifying thing ever. There had been many planets glassed before, and I suspect there will be many more. This wasn't my first experience witnessing the destruction. That came when the Covenant glassed my home, the home of all of us Spartan-II, Reach. I remembered how it started like it was yesterday.
Back on Reach, there was a contingent of us Spartans on the Pillar of Autumn about to head out for a mission when it was attacked. As we were docking back onto the planet Master Chief John-117, one of the toughest sons of a bitch I know, gave us our defense orders. After he had given all the other Spartans their orders he pulled me aside.
"Petty Officer," the Master Chief said.
"Yeah John?" I said, awaiting orders.
"You're needed at Sword Base, Halsey's orders," he said.
"Shit, don't tell me mom's here." I groaned out.
"Unfortunately she is, she requested you by name Felix," John said in his monotone voice.
"Woah, she actually asked for Felix?" I was shocked that she used my name.
"No, she asked for Petty Officer First Class Spartan Felix-116." he let out in a dry tone.
I swear I could almost hear a smile in his voice. This was about the most animated anyone could get John. Growing up we made it a game to try to get him to lighten up, you could count on two hands the people who could. Unfortunately, nowadays it's down to one hand, we've lost too many brothers and sisters.
"Well, John time to go see mom. You want me to tell her anything?" It was a rhetorical question, no one wanted to be on Halsey's radar.
"No." his dry reply came. I swear it's like I'm having a conversation with myself.
"Well, then I'm off. Try to remember your kill count, the loser will have to buy the next round." I said as I turned around to leave.
"Felix," John hollered out.
Turning around to look at him I cocked my head in a questioning motion.
"Don't die," he stated.
I swear I wanted to pummel him right there. I knew he was grinning behind that visor raising a flag like that. There was nothing I could do other than flip him the bird as I ran to the hanger. Reaching the hanger I saw that a pelican was waiting to transport me to Sword Base. Hopping on it I made my way to the place that would change my life forever.
After reaching the base I was in for a sight. All of the ONI spooks were losing their minds in the evacuation. Looking at the chaos that was the base I knew that Reach was lost. I made my way to the laboratory where Halsey's office would be. Upon reaching the open door I peered inside and saw a woman typing away on the computer. I knocked on the doorframe to let her know she had company.
"Petty Officer First Class Spartan Felix-116, come in," she said without even turning around or stopping her typing.
"Thanks, mom," I said sarcastically as I walked in and sat down on the couch.
I heard a little chuckle and looked over to the woman in shock. Halsey never breaks bad cop character, this must be bad. It was confirmed after I heard her smash a couple of keys and slowly turned her chair around.
"You know, you're the only one that will call me that to my face," she said with a bit of levity.
"Well, you are the one who diagnosed me with foot in mouth diseases if I remember correctly," I replied with a chuckle, which she followed along in.
"That I did, that's why I always liked you. You told it how it was, didn't sugar coat anything. Now there is a reason I called you here and we don't have time to chit-chat." She said, and I stood up and walked over to her to receive my orders.
Holding out her hand there was a data card with a circular indentation in the middle. "Petty Officer First Class Spartan-116 your mission is to protect this with your life," she ordered. Before I could respond there was a flicker of light in the middle of the chip and a green female humanoid figure appeared that looked like a younger Catherine Halsey.
"Hello Petty Officer, my name is Artemis. I will be your personal AI, a pleasure to work with you, and hope we have a bountiful hunt." Artemis said with an award-winning smile. All I could do in reply was stare at the little green woman.
After standing there for a good couple of minutes Halsey cleared her throat to break me from my trance. Looking up at her, I looked back down at the little green figure and did what I do best, deflect. "Wow, if that's what you looked like when you were younger, I'd wished I'd been born earlier."
That was the right and not-so-right thing to say. Artemis got a good laugh out of it, but Halsey looked like she was about to take my head off. I decided to count it as a win due to team-building with Artemis. Before Halsey could take her back I took the chip from her hand which caused Artemis's body to flicker and disappear and placed it in the data card slot at the back of my helmet. Right, when Artemis connected to my suit I felt the change immediately, everything had become easier to control. My Mjolnir Mark IV already felt like a second skin to me, but with her, it felt 100 pounds lighter. While I was checking out the upgrades something crossed my mind.
"Wait, why am I getting Artemis and not John? He's the poster child of what a Spartan should be." I questioned Halsey.
She just smirked at me and replied, "Who said he isn't? He is the poster child, but you're the blade in the dark. I've seen the combat records, even though he might be slightly better, you are nipping at his heels every step of the way."
Being recognized for my actions was great. But being recognized as being up there with the best, by the creator of the Spartan program, was mind-blowing. For the second time today, I didn't have a witty comeback, and for the first time in a long time, I didn't deflect. That gave Halsey a chance to continue on.
"You will stay here and be my bodyguard," she said then turned back around and continued to work on her computer.
I just shrugged and went over to a corner and stood at attention. To kill time I turned off my exterior comms and got the rundown of what all Artemis did. Finding out that she is like a skeleton key to anything that involves computers. With her being in my suit it would bring up my overall lethality by 10% by enhancing my senses and reaction time. Not to even mention the assistance with moving my armor.
After a couple of hours passed of my guard duty and talking to Artemis, a loud rumbling could be heard, and the ground shook. It was a clear sign that we were being attacked. As I was about to run out the door and start the counteroffensive I was stopped by Halsey.
"Spartan, you will not abandon your post," she demanded me.
If it was anyone else I would have ignored them and tell them to try and court-martial me. Hell, even now I was quite tempted to tell her that a part of guarding her is eliminating the threat before it reaches her. But before I could get my thoughts out she explained her thought process.
"You will not be any help out there, it's a Covenant Corvette. For you to be any use you'd need to get on it. Let your brothers and sisters handle it." she said.
"Fine, but I'll be in the hall to at least buy you time if they get close," I grumbled to her and went out to the hallway closing and locking the door behind me.
Standing guard was not my favorite assignment, especially when there was a nice fight outside that I could pad my kills stat with grunts. After an hour the rumbling and quakes continued and got louder and stronger as the attack came to the base. I started to feel antsy until I heard shots being fired in the corridor and the sound of a plasma sword being ignited and the swoosh and screams as it cut down someone. I readied my battle rifle for the fight to come, knowing that I was the only Spartan in the base I knew this prey was mine.
"Artemis, give me thermals and adjust the radar for cloaked contacts," I said while checking the chamber of my battle rifle to make sure a round was in the chamber.
"Roger that Felix," was the reply as my vision turned blue with green accents highlighting the corners of the hallway.
Before I knew it I saw a tubed face peek around the corner and it took everything I had not to bring my rifle up and shoot at it. I acted as if I didn't see anything, otherwise, the Elite would know and would stay in cover. Being the oblivious Spartan I laid the bait for the bastard, and he took it. The elite slowly rounded the corner, not a sound could be heard from the piece of shit. As he was halfway down the hall I brought my rifle up with my right hand and with my left, I grabbed a grenade. I flung the grenade to land behind him, and as it was airborne I started to fire my rifle causing the elite to jump back to dodge the wild aim. But that was what I was hoping for as I started to run at it with my rifle up and my other hand finally on it steadying the aim. As the grenade went off it knocked the Elite out of its cloak and pissed it off. Before I could say anything Artemis deactivated the thermal vision, and I saw as my continued fire was about to deplete his shield.
When the Elite stabilized itself it ignited the plasma sword. At the same time, my magazine went dry on the battle rifle and the Elite's shield fell. It roared at me as it charged, in reply I threw my battle rifle at it. The Elite's sword sliced through the rifle like it was butter, but I didn't stay still. I dodged to the right while bringing out my combat knife from its thigh holster. As I passed the side of the Elite I brought the knife around and slashed it behind its left knee. That brought the elite down to one knee, I then planted my left foot and spun around behind it. I then grabbed the front of its helm and pulled its head up and drugged my knife across its throat. As the elite started to sputter out blood and the gasps for air started I let go of its helmet and kicked it to the floor. I stood there and watched the life fade away from the creature that so man feared in the universe.
"Must have been a young one and got overconfident when he went through most of the base like a hot knife through butter," I commented.
"Judging by the size you would be correct," Artemis replied back.
"Spill a piece of shit," I said and hocked a loogie then spat at the dead Elite.
I stood there for a hot minute. Staring at the mucus that was on the inside of my visor. I had been used to not having it on because it was a hindrance most of the time.
"Not a word," I said coldly to Artemis.
"Too late," she replied back with a mischievous chuckle.
Through all the explosions and debris falling I could hear extreme laughter coming from an office behind me. Out of all the people she could have sent it to, that was the worst one. Taking my helmet off I just facepalmed myself for walking right into that one. But then I realized that there was one good thing that came out of this. Reaching down I grabbed what looked like to be a silver rod. With the flick of my wrist, the sound of plasma igniting and a glowing sword appeared from the apparatus.
"Souvenirs yay!" I said with a giddy tone.
For the rest of the attack, I just stood outside Halsey's office and played with my sword. Through the comms, I heard gathered a Spartan team had arrived. But that made me even more restless and wanting to go out there to show them who's boss. So I did the next best thing, I activated my new plasma sword and wrote "116 Is the Best" on the wall. Artemis got a kick out of it and took a picture at my request. Of course, being the little tattle tail she is she sent it to Halsey, in which I got a message that she's considering court marshaling me for the destruction of property. I just laughed it off and looked around at all the damage the bombardments had done.