(A birthday gift for Aspergian Mind, and a sequel to Mad World which was his gift last year. It seems like one fic a year is a good strategy. This will be in about five or six parts, but I still need to write the ending. Hopefully I can manage once a week.)
Of all the things Len Roberts disliked about Lewis-B125 (and there were a lot of things to dislike about this particular Spartan-III), what he disliked most was Lewis-B125's helmet. To some, that might have seemed like a trivial detail. All Spartans wore helmets after all. Marines wore helmets, as did ODSTs. But it was considered customary to show your face when you were talking to someone outside of a combat. Marines removed their helmets, ODSTs depolarized their visors, and even the other Spartans Len had known removed their helmets when speaking to him. Those that didn't usually had the standard helmet, with the visor and something of a discernible "face." Len knew where to look when he addressed most Spartans: he was told it was respectful to look into the visor as if they were a set of eyes. But when Lewis-B125, there was no place to look. He wore the EVA model helmet, bare and without any decals, so his face was just a blank sheen of slightly reflective blue visor.
Len did not like speaking to Lewis-B125, and Lewis-B125 didn't like to talk. But for better or worse, Lewis-B125 had been assigned as Len's bodyguard, and that meant almost constant contact.
Following his capture and subsequent release from the Covenant forces those few years ago, Len had been tested and probed. The higher ups were certain that he had somehow become a sleeper agent for the Covenant. ONI probably would have liked him to be executed, just to be sure, but housed in Len's body was a brain that was too valuable to destroy. Besides, there were other things to do.
And so, for the past three years, Len had been living in exile, on a ship that endlessly tugged him along, through the recesses of space. At first, he had almost enjoyed the solitude. There were about three hundred others aboard the ship: maybe fifty other exiles who were too valuable or too sensitive to simply execute. About two hundred maintenance workers kept the ship functioning. And there were fifty Spartan-IIIs, one for each undesirable.
Lewis-B125 had made his role in Len's life very clear: those were the only words Len had ever heard him say. In the event that Len, in any way, compromised Earth or anything else of value to humanity, he would be executed with five shots to the back of the head.
So, for three years, Len sat in silence and solitude, doing his endless research. It hadn't done Len much good: the quiet of space and solitude. He shuffled from his bedroom to his laboratory and back to his bedroom, day in day out. He was rarely able to engage with the other undesirables: they had their own watchdogs and their own schedules to keep, and when he was able to see them… he usually would rather not. He didn't bother keeping mirrors in his room, it was too depressing to see how he had deteriorated: growing thin and sickly, skin pale and bone white, eyes sunken from never receiving a good night's sleep. He barely bothered to eat, hardly needing the energy to type out the notes of his findings and send them through secure servers to an ONI satellite, where they would be encrypted and sent to another ONI satellite, unencrypted, re-encrypted, sent to another ONI satellite…
He thought of suicide any number of times; maybe that was what ONI wanted. He thought of trying to punch Lewis-B125, or opening the airlock while he was inside, or just laying down to sleep and willing his body to never wake up. Sometimes he didn't bother to get out of bed. Lewis-B125 didn't seem to mind, and he was in bed the day of the attack, which had actually saved his life, because the laboratories were targeted first.
The laboratories were not near the ship's engines, but close enough that a stray few missiles, or whatever it was that the Covenant used to cripple human ships so efficiently, had struck the hull in just the right spot. The occupants of the laboratory at that time were sucked out into the vacuum of space, frozen by the cold embrace of emptiness and left to drift in the endless abyss of darkness.
The ship rocked, and Len was tossed from his bed. He struck the wall hard, a painful jolt running through him, and stunned him for a moment as the bed sheets tangled around him. He fought with them for a moment, before stumbling free and struggling to his door. He was greeted by the blank expression of Lewis-B125. No words were exchanged. In an instant, the Spartan had taken hold of Len's thin forearm and gave it a sudden yank. Len yelped as he felt the bone pulled and popped, but was already being dragged along by Lewis-B125, who was heading for the escape pods.
Almost three years of entropy, and yet Len found his body responding to his demands. He found himself running, something that he thought he could no longer do given the weakness in his legs. Lewis-B125 tearing and ripping his arm helped. The pain kept him from passing out or succumbing to the fatigue that was biting at his muscles. But when Lewis-B125 let go of him, Len tripped over his feet and tumbled to the floor.
Lewis-B125 had noticed a chubby little Grunt wandering the halls, perhaps looking for the humans he was supposed to kill. Drawing the two knives from his chest armor, Lewis-B125 continued to dash. The Grunt saw, and turned, blobs of plasma spitting out of the pistol in his hand, but he was tackled, first against the wall, and then to the ground. Both blades jabbed into his chest served to silence the Grunt's whimpers quickly. Lewis-B125 stood to retrieve his blades, but seeing something leapt back, and back down the corner that he had just come.
There was a roar, a roar like Len had heard before, and turning the corner, he gasped as he saw a Brute shuffling along. Nine feet tall, with glistening green armor and a hammer that could wreck a Warthog with a few swings, Len lay rooted to the spot until Lewis-B125 once more grasped his arm and yanked him to his feet. Len took a moment to stumble and stutter before managing to resume his run. He could hear the furious roars of the Brute behind him; the heavy stomp of its feet as it gave chase. Len whimpered and gritted his teeth, trying to force his tired and aching legs to move faster, until Lewis-B125 stopped running, and instead yanked Len to the ground. Above them, the gravity hammer swung through the air, crashing into the hallway's wall with an awful noise. Lewis-B125 was on his feet in a moment, ducking under the Brute's swinging arm and getting to the beast's blindside. He continued running, reaching the opposite end of the hallway and retrieving the blades from the Unggoy's corpse. He sheathed them, as the Brute turned and snarled, focusing on his target, and charged. Lewis-B125 peppered the Brute with shots from his pistols, until it was in range for a swing, in which time he attempted what he had done before. He attempted to duck and roll beneath the swinging arms and hammer, but the Brute had grown wise to his strategy.
Lewis-B125 ducked beneath the swing and rolled to his feet. He was met by a sudden backhand that knocked him several feet through the hallway. Rampaging and snarling, the Brute was upon him suddenly, stomping one of its feet down onto Lewis-B125's chest. How Lewis-B125 survived that, Len would never know, but Lewis-B125 screamed and shrieked as the weight came down, and the Brute simply stared, focusing on the little one beneath him, until his shields flickered, and he looked down the hallway at Len who had picked up one of Lewis-B125's discarded pistol. Len squeezed the trigger again. He had received enough training that he knew how to stand, and how to hold the pistol, and how to squeeze, not jerk, the trigger. And of course, the Brute's body filled the hallway, so it wasn't a difficult shot to make.
But the bullets were like flea bites to the Brute, who stomped down the hallway casually. A backhand knocked the pistol out of Len's grip, and its fingers found Len's throat, lifting him off the ground like a grown man would a baby.
If he wanted to, the Brute could snap his neck, but as he had been with Lewis-B125, there were precious moments where he simply examined his quarry, as if he were pondering something. He growled, annoyed, and Len thought for sure he would die. Indeed, the Brute gently applied pressure to his throat, and his head tilted up, as he gasped for the last precious breath. His gaze happened to play over the Brute's shoulder and down the hallway, to Lewis-B125, who was limping and whimpering down the hallway, trying to escape the behemoth. A moment later, Len had passed out.