A/N: Hey again! Good news. Since my studies hadnt picked up pace yet i managed to sit down and work on the rewrite now and what do we have here? The first chapter. You will notice the changes right away as you begin to read, most is the same setting as before though you will notice some new parts that i added. Okay, without further delays here is the first rewritten chapter!
0120 Hours, September 24, 2557 (Military Calendar) / Slipspace / Aboard UNSC Frigate Maria
Captain Sergey Pavlov let out a tremendous yawn, raising his arms above him, stretching his muscles while allowing a groan escape his mouth. Hearing a satisfying popping sound coming from somewhere in his left shoulder he collapsed back into his chair.
Releasing a sigh, something that he did at least a dozen of times during the last fifteen minutes, he looked at the screen to see if anything interesting was showing up on them. The screens showed exactly the same thing the last time he looked at them, the condition of the weapon systems, engines and other things.
Though he would never admit it, he was bored on astronomical levels. There was nothing to do, nothing to watch and the other people who served on the bridge left a while ago to catch some much needed sleep, leaving Pavlov all by himself. Usually he spent nights like these conversing with anyone who was in the bridge but tonight he didn't have such luxuries.
That line of though gave an idea. Taking a look around the bridge to see if anyone was there, pausing for several moments on the holo-pad, he reached for the inner pocket of his uniform, taking another suspicious look around him and took out a small and flat metallic bottle.
The captain opened the bottle, taking a whiff of the liquid inside, the smell being slightly burning to his nostrils. Exhaling some air, he quickly took a swig from the small bottle, pouring the burning liquid down his throat. Sighing in satisfaction he quickly returned the bottle to his inner pocket. The last thing he needed was court-martial.
"I saw that," said a voice and something bright and red appeared at the corner of the captain's eye. He squinted his eyes as he turned to look at the miniature woman in a flowing red dress standing on the holo-pad. In the captain's eyes she was very beautiful, the red dress framing her body perfectly, showing her curves and he long dark red hair flowed down her back in her long pony-tail.
"Damn, Leyla, can you dim the lights? You glow like a neon sign," Pavlov said as he looked at her as he looked at the 'smart' AI's frowning face.
"I'm not glowing at all, it's your eyes. You should let them rest for a while. You haven't slept in days," Leyla replied. The captain knew what she was talking about. It was three days since they completed their objective, destroying a Covenant Remnant outpost, which involved a short battle against a single Covenant Cruiser, which ended with the slightly battered Maria escaping by entering slipspace after the completion of the objective on the planet surface.
Unfortunately, the cruiser somehow followed them and after exited slipspace they shortly found themselves chased by the same ship, which resulted in another jump. It's been two days since they entered slipspace the second time and this time they were heading straight to earth, confident that the planet's orbital defense platforms will easily take care of the offending ship.
"I can't leave the bridge. If I'll go to sleep, I'm not going to wake up for another week and you know that the ship will be lost without me."
"Ah, yes. The ship will be doomed if the captain will go to sleep for a few hours," the Ai replied sarcastically. "Seriously, why do you think I am here for? Rescue you from your 'astronomical' boredom? You can buy a cheap AI back on earth to do that. Also, I recall a thing that was invented centuries ago…I think it was called 'alarm clock'," she said with feigned offended tone.
"Aw, stop that Leyla, you know that nothing could replace you."
"Of course I know that, Unlike other AI's, I have style…" she said, prompting a chuckle from the captain.
"Whatever you say. Just give me status on the ship," Pavlov asked.
"We are out of Archer missiles, a single Shiva nuclear missile left, we have five MAC rounds left and we have twenty percent damage to the engines. We managed to avoid any severe damage the ship in our battle but you already know that, you looked at the status four minutes ago."
Pavlov sighed, practically feeling Leyla's irritation.
"I'm just bored, worried and tired. How are out so called 'guests'?" he asked her.
"The Elites? Oh, they are fine, keeping to themselves and not bothering anyone."
During the mission their ground forces encountered a small force of Sangheili soldiers. Somehow they ended up without a ship after being ambushed in orbit several weeks before the Maria's arrival. They offered them a lift to earth, since there weren't any Elite outposts near by and the aliens agreed to the offer. During the last five years after the end of the Human-Covenant war relationships with the Elites were strained. Pavlov knew that a long time would pass until humanity will forgive the Sangheili after the genocidal war they waged upon humanity. Pavlov also saw that the Elites regretted their actions. So far they gladly handed over technology, weaponry and various other objects that the humans asked for. He already heard about the first UNSC ship that had artificial gravity and energy shields that were far superior to any shields a Covenant ship could produce. The rumors he heard about a plasma-based human made weapon prototype that was in development made Pavlov suspect that humanity will have a large technological advancement in the years to come.
"Alright, let's keep it that way. I know that most our crew is accepting their presence but lets not risk it. I don't want any fights breaking between them," he ordered. Even though the Elites were their allies now, fights between Elites and humans were not unheard of and he didn't want to have one on his ship.
"I'll keep an eye on them and any drunk marine in their vicinity," Leyla replied with a smile.
"Speaking of marines…how many do we have left?" he asked, his voice dropping.
"We have 136 marines left, fifty-two ODST and our two big friends."
The captain though over he numbers. They lost around forty percents of their soldiers on board. In comparison with the other Frigates the UNSC had, they were severely undermanned. When he thought about it, it was pure luck that they managed to get away from the cruiser without severe damage, since the Maria was a rather old, even with the new upgrades available he doubted they could go toe to toe with a cruiser. They managed to punch a hole through the other ship with the MAC gun, slowing them down a bit and they somehow managed to get away before the cruiser could fire it's plasma turrets and Pavlov had to be thankful for the Covenant cruiser's late arrival.
"Ugh, I hate this," Pavlov groaned.
"What do you mean?"
"I hate getting these people to their deaths. I'm supposed to be responsible for them," he explained with a frown.
"Get a hold of yourself. You are responsible for them when they're on the ship. You're the captain of this ship, not some gruff Sergeant. Besides, it's not like they expected this to be a picnic when they signed up for this job," she said as she crossed her arms, lines of codes trailing across her slim body.
"I know that but I can't help but feel guilty about it. I'm the one who got them here and I'm the one who's supposed to get them back," he said as he fiddled with his inner pocket again. He took out his bottle again and took a large swig, not giving a damn about his witness, knowing well that Leyla won't say a word. She had the chance to say something during the four years of their acquaintance.
"Of course you're going to do that, it's you job. And their job is fighting on the ground. As I said, get a hold of yourself or even better, get some sleep!" she exclaimed. "And don't drink that thing here!"
"Oh fine. Just… wake me up in the morning, okay?"
"Sure, ill wake you up sometime tomorrow," she said as she started waving him away. Pavlov stood up from his chair, releasing a mighty yawn and started walking away.
"I never expected to end up being your personal alarm clock…" Leyla remarked as the captain left the room, sending a wave to the AI.
He ducked under the punch the red-headed woman launched and he blocked the following kick to his mid-section.
Spartan Ray-128 kept dodging and blocking any attacks his teammate launched, adding the occasional counter to them. Artemis-001A relentlessly attacked, attacking with all her strength, trying to break through her teammate's defense.
Ray knew that he had one major advantage here. He was one of the people who trained her and he knew all her standard moves. He even managed to predict some of her moves and counter them before they even executed but it didn't mean that she couldn't be creative. One time she did an attack that he expected but it turned out to be an unexpected feint, a thing that earned him a punch to the jaw. After that particular move he was more careful.
He was still amazed at how far she reached in such a short period of time. He trained her for only a bit longer than a year and she was as capable as any other Spartan. The only thing she lacked was experience. Due to the circumstances of her 'birth' the only thing she needed to do was learning to do the things she already knew. After all, one thing was to know how to do something. It was entirely a different thing to do that thing.
He sidestepped another punch and countered with his own. She managed to partially move away from the blow, his fist only brushing against her shoulder. Artemis spun with the momentum and entered a leg sweeping maneuver. Ray jumped over the sweep but Artemis kept the spin and entered a roundhouse kick. He landed on his feet and placed his arms in front of him to block.
The kick was hard, he would give that to her. He staggered a few steps backwards from the force of the kick but Artemis didn't relent. She charged as soon as she regained her balance, which was a split second after she kicked him. She buried her fist into his stomach, knocking the air out of him. Ray countered quickly, grabbing the second fist that was coming his way he yanked her to him, causing her to lose her balance and sent a vicious kick to the back of her knee. The leg bucked beneath her and Ray pulled her hand backwards and pushed her down to the floor.
Artemis ended up with her face being smacked against the ring's floor in a rather painful manner and her left hand on her back in a painful angle. She struggled for a few moment to get free from his firm grip but to no avail. Artemis had to admit that he was better than her in close combat.
"Alright, that's enough," Ray ordered, finally releasing her.
Ray offered her his hand, which she took and with one simple pull she was on her feet. Ray looked around the gym section of the ship. Even though it was rather late the ship was still active and so was the gym. A dozen crew members and several marines were present in the large room, practically all of them transfixed on the sparring match of the two Spartans.
"So…what's the matter?" Ray asked his teammate as he grabbed a towel. Artemis looked at him curiously with a hint of surprise.
Ray knew that she wanted to spar with him only if something happened. Spartans were never the talkative type and they preferred to vent their worries or stress in battle or training. Artemis seemingly inherited that trait even though she wasn't trained with the original group, or grew with them. Even though she fought like a Spartan soldier, wore the armor and technically was a Spartan, Ray had a hard time accepting her. Perhaps she was a Spartan, but she wasn't one of his Spartans. The Spartans were a family, brothers and sisters and Artemis just seemed like…an outsider in that group, even more when he thought about her origins. Somehow, even though he was one of the people who trained her, Ray felt that Artemis won't be able to come close to the level of the Spartans he grew up with.
"I…I'm not sure if I did my best in the mission. I feel like I didn't do my best there," she explained as she wiped sweat with her towel. Ray nodded his head in understanding. This was Artemis' first official combat mission and he partially understood what she meant. He remembered his own first mission and he was worried that he somehow screwed up but in the end he ignored that feeling and did the mission.
"You did well; you shouldn't worry about it. You need to remember that the mission comes first, everything else after that," Ray said, remembering all the training Chief Mendez put them through. He smiled at the memories. This was another reason why Artemis won't be a complete Spartan, regardless of how many trainings she received. She wasn't trained by Chief Mendez. This line of thought brought saddening memories along with it since he didn't see the old Chief in years and the last he heard, he went MIA.
"Well…it was different. It's one thing to hear about this, see footage but to experience it…to be there is something else," Artemis explained.
"You get used to it," Ray replied with a smile. He knew the feeling of being in a battlefield for the first time. It was so long ago and he could barely recall it. Back on Reach they prepared them as best as possible for it and they were ready for it.
"I hope so. It was…odd. All the emotion and the adrenaline, it was so damn exciting. I need to keep my head calm," Artemis said and received a nod from Ray. She was right, that Ray knew, having emotions controlling you in the middle of a battle could lead to mistakes and mistakes could lead to lives being lost. A thing he learned a long time ago…
"That's right. Remember that."
"Yeah, I remember, though not like I once could, heh," she said with a chuckle.
"You miss being like that?" Ray asked, genuinely curious.
"Aw, hell no! When I compare this to that, that old existence seems so…bland and boring!" she exclaimed. "Yeah, it had the advantages of not needing to remember things but this is so much…" she kept on talking and Ray had to interrupt her. He never knew anyone who would talk that much. If he wouldn't be careful around her, he could get stuck in a long one-sided conversation.
"Alright, I think we should go to get some sleep now. In all honesty, I'm rather tired," he said, secretly happy that Artemis paused to listen to him.
"Oh, alright. I'm not feeling that tired, really. Maybe Leyla will have to free time…" she trailed off from there. Ray noticed some time ago that Artemis developed some sort of a relationship with the ship's AI. He didn't mind, Artemis and Leyla did have some things in common and it did occupy Artemis whenever she wanted to talk. It was better Leyla than him, and the AI did enjoy talking.
"Good, I will see you tomorrow morning," He said and left towards his room.
Ray still had to get used to his teammate, even after a year being around her she never was his teammate until a month ago. He didn't have teammates for a long time, other than squads of marines or ODST that he operated with, it was different and yet familiar fighting alongside a Spartan.
It was also different fighting alongside a Spartan who happened to be a former AI.
Okay, this is the end so far. Hopefully ill have free time the next weekend and maybe if im lucky, i will sit down and write some more tomorrow or the day after that, so its entirely possible that the next rewritten chapter will be uploaded shortly. As a note, i want to state that Artemis-001A has no connection to the SPARTAN-III program, so dont confuse her with anyone from the Alpha company. I hope you liked the rewritten version because i sure do. Now it looks a lot better! Thank you very much for reading this and i would always like to recieve constructive criticism, suggestions, opinions and everything else you might want to say. If you noticed anything wrong, please notify me. :) Once again, thanks for reading, i'll see you soon with another chapter! :D