Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
PROLOGUE


SUBJECT INTERVIEW JOURNAL…

SUBJECT: JASON-078
DATE OF BIRTH: OCTOBER 30, 2510
INTERVIEWING AUTHORITY: HALSEY, CATHERINE ELIZABETH, MD, PhD (Civilian Consultant 409871)

1138 hours, September 1, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Circinius System, Circinius IV, New Constantinople

When I first arrived with Lieutenant Keyes at Vespasian Preschool, I was not sure exactly what I would find. I’ve read all of the reports regarding this subject, but nothing really stood out. Even the subject’s profile was average compared with the rest of the candidates. I almost skipped over this one in lieu of subject 138, but then something caught my attention: The subject plays chess.

He does not just pay chess, but he apparently plays chess well. According to Orlin, the Dumb Artificial Intelligence installed in the Corbulo Academy of Military Science, it had to repurpose a total of 7% of its overall processing power to beat the subject. I asked Dèjá to run the numbers and his play level was Class C, which was completely unheard of in anyone at the subject’s age. Of course, I had Dèjá completely erase all records of the tests from the AI’s memory, but that fact was still surprising. So, I decided to go ahead with the subject’s interview.

I cleared my presence with the school’s office. Thankfully, the ONI powers-that-be granted me enough of a clearance to get me through most of the useless bureaucracy that seemed to have cropped up on planets like this. The visitor badges that were given to us would grant access to every room on campus, regardless of the security procedures. And, if they did not, then I had a break-box in my handbag that could override any lock or simple AI.

My bioscanner lead me to one of the smaller classrooms just in time for the recess bell. Jacob pulled me to the side of the hall just as a stampede of children burst from the doors. It was thoughtful, but unnecessary. Most of them would simply have gone around any adult in the halls. I thanked him with a smile, which he returned, and checked the bioscanner again. The subject was still in the room.

I peeked inside the door and saw him. He was laying with his back resting on a holotable, staring out the windows. On the table was an animated anthropomorphic tiger with large cartoonish gloves. They were playing chess, but the subject was not even looking at the board. It was astounding. It was not just that, but he made a move and put the AI in check. Not only was he not looking at the board, but he was doing so and winning.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 1

DR. HALSEY’S NOTE: As I said in my original interview notes, I saw that Subject 078 was wearing a personal journal bracelet. This gave me an idea on how to log and track subject experiences for the reports I am required to give ONI. Against the wishes of CPO Mendez and the objections of Dèjá, I am giving the subject a new journal bracelet. However, this bracelet is of a sturdier design provided by ONI at my request.

Dèjá, upon examining the journal bracelet, found a rudimentary tracking AI and flash download package that was added contrary to my specifications. However, she and I have accessed the firmware contained within the item and successfully reprogrammed both to be available only to myself. Rather than trust any of Franklin’s team with the journal, I am instead giving it directly to Doctor Eir to give to subject 078.

----------

2200 hours, September 23, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, UNSC Flying Dutchman in low orbit over planet Reach

A loud mechanical noise woke me up. Everything was blurry and cold. I reached out and felt something solid and cold. I leaned forward and my head struck the same thing, though there was light coming from somewhere. Squinting up, the glow coming through a window of some kind was higher than I could reach.

Another mechanical sound and the wall split opened. Light flooded in and I slammed my eyes shut. I wanted to ask what was happening, but I couldn’t breathe. Well, I could, but only short gasps because my lungs felt full of something. I was starting to panic.

“Take a deep breath and cough,” a woman said. Her voice was distant and muffled.

Warm hands grabbed my shoulders and leaned me forward. My back unstuck from what I was leaning on and it felt like something was being stirred in my chest. Was it my mother telling me that? It was uncomfortable to try and breathe in anything but short gasps, but I didn’t want to disobey her.

I forced myself to take a deep breath and felt like I was squeezing a water balloon inside my chest. I couldn’t control the resulting coughs and leaned into the waiting hands. Another breath and warm liquid passed my lips with the wracking of my emptying lungs. There was a slight popping sound as my ears cleared and I could hear the liquid splattering on the floor. One more coughing fit cleared my chest, but left a sickly sweet taste in my mouth.

I blinked a couple of times as the hands pushed me back onto the soft pad. It wasn’t my mother. This woman was wearing white clothes and a long white jacket. Her short blonde hair seemed to bob just above her collar and her glasses were small and black framed. There were bits of light flickering across the lenses like the heads-up glasses teachers wore. Her jacket symbol, a stick with wings and snakes twirling around it, meant she was a doctor.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Exaldear

Member
why are you so awesome. even better than the journal. can I still use your spartans for my story (yes i am still writing it)
 

Shade88

Well-Known Member
Just read through the prologue and Chapter one. I liked it, very nice. I especially like the chess game at the beginning. :D
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Just read through the prologue and Chapter one. I liked it, very nice. I especially like the chess game at the beginning. :D
Thank you. The chess motif will be a running plot point through the first book, and probably the rest, as well. You see, I love chess and even designed a new way of calling out moves, combining the old-world piece-calling with the new algebraic formula into something that was easier to follow than either. Call it, evolution of chess. Though, definitely look for some famous games to be put into the various books and chapters... even this one. The game against Tig might have been familiar if you are a Robert Downy Junior fan or Sherlock Holmes fan... or both.
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Minor edit making it a first-person past-tense story. Just a little easier for my mental processes, as I have never really wrote anything in this style and like to keep myself on my toes.
 

Kor

New Member
I've really liked this so far. I'm looking forward to seeing more chapters posted on FF.net. If you ever need a beta reader, just let me know. I'd be happy to help.
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 2

0530 hours, September 24, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach, Reach Military Complex

Mother opened the curtains, flooding my small room with light. It was too early though, especially after the strange nightmare. I must have kicked my blankets and pillow off last night while I slept, because I didn’t feel them around me as I rolled over. I buried my face in the crook of my arm, trying to block out the light and yelling.

Lightning struck my foot. The shock left pain and flailing muscles in my leg as it traveled through my body. My chest tightened and my arms shot out. It completed its travels by shooting out of my mouth with an incoherent yelp. The entire process took less than a second and caused me to roll off of my bed and onto the slanting pads below.

I looked up and met the eyes of Hicks, the same man from the night before. “Get up and stand to, trainee!”

There was a stick in his hand that looked like something the police carried, but the end was bristling with electricity. “Move, move, move,” he yelled as I tried to pull myself out of the strange pod. Finally, he reached forward and seized my collar, hoisting me in front of the bunk. It took me only a moment to recover, the sudden shock that the dream was a reality flooding into my now conscious mind.

“Toe the line! That means stand on the line with your big toes touching it.” Hicks pointed the silver baton at the foot of the bed to the yellow line that surrounded it. He was right in my face when he did it and his breath smelled like stale coffee. I looked to my right and saw a girl there with her feet touching the line and did the same. There was a small arrow pointing to the bunk that I centered on.

Hicks moved to the next pod, the boy still fast asleep. “Wake up call, sunshine,” he was yelling as he reached into the pod to touch the boys calf with the end of the baton. The boy jerked awake, but didn’t cry out. He scrambled out of the pod and onto the line that the Staff Sergeant was indicating, with minimal yelling.

“Eyes front, boot!” Hicks yelled out and pointed the end of the stick at me; he didn’t even look up when he did it. Even being a couple of steps away, I swung my head around to concentrate of the pod in front of me. Then, there was a new voice in the room. This one was louder.

“I am Chief Petty Officer Mendez.” The voice was clear even over the cracks of electricity and yells of the adults and children. “The rest of these men and women are your instructors. You will do exactly as we tell you at all times.”

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 3

0830 hours, September 24, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach, Reach Military Complex

I had never heard about whatever that word was in any of my classes, so I sat up a little straighter. My muscles were sore, but I just tried to ignore them by opening my bottle of water and taking a few sips.

“What’s Thermop-moh…” one of the boys asked, trying to pronounce the word.

“Thermopylae, Sam” Dèjá said as the entire front of the classroom, just over the top of the table came to life with holograms of mountains and hills next to a sea.

“This was a long, long time ago, back on Earth, in a country called Greece. Thermopylae was a very narrow strip of land between steep mountains and the sea.” The image spun to show the pass.

“And this strip of land was guarded by Spartans—fierce warriors, trained to fight since they were children.” That was the same thing the woman called us last night. Were we training to be warriors like these Spartans?

The image rapidly closed on a single figure. He was bare-chested and heavily muscled. He wore a bronze helmet and leather underwear, which was kind of silly. He had leather gauntlets and bronze armor from his knee to his ankle. He wore sandals and a red cape. There was a sword on his belt, but he carried a huge shield and a short spear. “It was well known that no one could beat the Spartans, but that did not stop Xerxes the Great from trying.” The scene shifted to show a large army marching toward the pass.

“Xerxes wanted to steal Greece from the Spartans, and his forces numbered in the thousands. Of the Spartans, there were only three hundred. Xerxes thought himself sure to win.” The three hundred men appeared and walked into the pass in lines like we lined up in when we were doing the exercises. When they stopped, they all hunched forward and made their big shields overlap. The only thing that I could see from the front was there helmets and the armor they wore on their lower legs. Each one also had their spear ready in the crease of their shields to stab people in front of them.

I counted as the scene spun behind them and they were standing in four rows. That meant there were seventy-five in the front. The scene shifted over their heads and I saw about a thousand of angry men running at them with swords and spears. They were shouting some battle cry in a language I didn’t understand, but I could hear Déjà over them. “The battle should have lasted minutes, with Xerxes as victor. Instead, the Spartans worked together, and the conflict stretched for three days. And ultimately, the Spartans saved Greece.”

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 4

0530 hours, September 25, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach, Reach Military Complex

I felt like I had just fallen asleep when the lights came on again. I heard the yelling of the instructors and the snaps of the shock sticks, but I couldn’t move. I opened my eyes and tried to move my arms, but my muscles felt like rubber bands that were about to snap. I tried to roll over and crawl out of the pod, but not even my legs wanted to work. It felt like I was trying to move against weights pinning me to the thin gel mattress.

“Rise and shine and toe the line,” a woman’s voice echoed around the walls of the pod. The shock hit my right calf and made me scream. The scream wasn’t from the pain of the electricity, but from my muscles involuntarily straightening. My arms shot out to either side of me which is the only thing that kept me from rolling into the crevasse on either side of the pad. I looked up to see a dark-skinned woman looking at me with a fire in her eyes. I moved, through my screaming muscles to stand on the line in front of my bunk as she moved on.

The boy in the next bunk didn’t fare much better than I had. He had to be shocked to wake up and shocked a second time when he didn’t move fast enough to get out of his bunk. “Next time, you’ll unrack faster, wontcha” she said, followed by a “Sir. Yes, sir,” from him.

I didn’t see it, though. I was too busy staring at the bunk in front of me. I was still tired, but was staying awake listening to the cracks of electricity, the yelps of other children, and the yells of instructors from around the bay. I knew if I started to fall asleep, the next shock would be me.

“078, 079, eyes on me,” the female instructor called out. She was standing in between the bunks in front of ours. “Start moving like I am.”

She rolled her head around on her shoulders in one direction then in the next. It pulled a little at the tops of my shoulders, but they felt better when I had finished. The next was wind-milling my arms around to the front and back, then my hips like I was using a hula-hoop, then leaning down and rotating my knees and ankles. Every movement made me sorer when I first started it, but afterwards it felt better. “This is called stretching,” she said. “You will do it whenever you feel sore in the mornings, but after stand to. Got it?”

“Sir. Yes, sir!”

“Getting better, but you still have more to learn.” Chief Mendez was in the front of the room. “Hit the head, clean up, and get out to formation.”

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 5

0530 hours, September 28, 2517 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach, Reach Military Complex

As with the past week, the lights came on at 0530 hours. Unlike the rest of the week, I was wide awake and slid out of my bunk the moment they came on. I heard Arthur in the next bunk land on the ground, and Cassandra on the other side by the time I had my toes on the line. I wasn’t entirely awake, but was enough to know that I should move or I’d get shocked. I just stood there while the fuzz slowly cleared from my head. Once the instructors made sure everyone was up, Chief Mendez would have them run us through the normal morning routine.

One of the trainers, a Marine Gunnery Sergeant named Gibbs, walked by and eyed me suspiciously as I stared intently at the bunk ahead of me. He just stood there and stared, trying to get me to focus on him, but my eyes were locked on the bunk in front of me. I was waiting for the familiar, yet rare, pop of a motivator stun baton, but I heard none. This was the first morning that the snap and yelp didn’t echo through the room, only the heavy boot falls of the instructors.

Chief Petty Officer Mendez has been working us non-stop every day. Dèjá’s class was the only respite and was actually fun with the holographic show that went with the lessons. Though, if this was what life in the Navy was like, then it really sucked.

“Trainees,” Mendez yelled from the front of the room. “You have exactly fifteen minutes to be standing in formation, starting… now!”

This was something new. I heard some people run to the head, others just stood where they were in shock. I, on the other hand, decided to stretch and get dressed first rather than stand in any lines. When I got my boots zipped and made my way to the head, I noticed that about half of us had the same idea. But, I still had to stand in line for the sinks.

I ran out the door of the bunk room, through the short halls, and out the main doors. I noticed that there were about a dozen instructors on either side of the doors, just standing there. The rest were lined up behind Mendez. Well, not all the rest, but the ones who were on duty today. Only half were on duty every day.

I got in formation and, much to my chagrin, was standing directly in front of Chief Mendez. I picked a spot about a dozen meters behind the middle of his uniform jacket and stared at it. He and the rest of the instructors were just standing like statues at Parade Rest.

A few moments later, I heard a quiet beep come from behind Chief Mendez’s back. The Chief snapped to attention and yelled, “Fall in!”

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 6

0530 hours, May 24, 2518 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach

The moment the lights came on, I was awake and shimmying out of my bunk. In the eight months since we arrived, nothing had really changed with regards to the morning routine. Hicks walked by, making sure I had my toes on the yellow line and that I didn’t track him with my eyes.

“You have graduated to the next phase of training and will be given a little more time to do what you need to.” Mendex yelled from the front of the room. Well, that was different. “But, if you screw up, we will go back to the basics of day one. Do you understand?”

“Sir! Yes, sir!” The bay rang out with our voices.

“Good. You have thirty minutes to be in formation.” With that he, and the rest of the instructors, walked out.

Like usual, I put my boots on and ran back to use the head, brush my teeth, and put on the deodorant. After that, I ran back to my bunk and opened a trunk on the right side. This trunk held disposable cleaning towels that we were told to wipe our bunks with every morning. I wiped down the mattress, slanting pads, all around the outside, and then I climbed up on the back to clean the top and wiped down the back on my way down. I ran out and tossed the wipe in the trash before I reached the door.

I got into line with the others, falling in at the position of attention. The instructors no longer had to use their motivators on us, but they still carried them on their belts. I think the last time someone was motivated was during our M6 Personal Defense Weapon System disassembly and cleaning class. Alice forgot a step during the functions check. Corporal Santin just shook his head and tapped her in the shoulder without even pulling the shock stick off of his belt.

Physical training was just as it normally was. We ran around the building in formation and then began calisthenics: supine bicycles, ski jumps, flutter kicks, windmills, push-ups, and cross country skiers, always in one hundred counts. Even though I could do all of the exercises, I was still covered in sweat by the end. We only stopped after the windmills to render a salute to the raising of the colors. It was getting hotter every day and the sweatshirt of the uniform didn’t help much.

We had a break and drank water before beginning our hour-long run to class. When we got to the main road, though, we didn’t turn toward the Academy. Instead, we turned onto the central road of the base. I wondered if we were doing a longer training at the Playground or something. We kept running and passed right through the main gate to the base. This was definitely new and everyone seemed to perk up a little.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 7

0530 hours, July 12, 2519 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach

DR. HALSEY’S NOTE: Franklin has been talking about reorganizing the children into teams and giving them and overall squad leader. He says that the timing is correct for them to have leadership among their own ranks. I agree, but do not agree that it should be Kurt. I have already selected a leader for the squad, and that would be John. However, I cannot deny that others have approached leadership potential.

One of those others is Jason, as suggested by Dèjá. He has shown a level of adaptability and tactical thinking well beyond any other candidate, even John on some occasions. He seems to already be in a leadership role when it comes to his ‘team.’ Both Christy and Gary are following his lead and he seems to take to the role well.

----------

0530 hours, July 12, 2519 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach


For the past year, the instructors have no longer come into the barracks for wake-up. We were required to be in first formation out front by 0600 or we would receive extra duty. Well, the extra duty came after motivation and more PT. Even so, it was best not to give the instructors reason to take away this extra time we all had.

I got dressed and cleaned my bunk before running back for hygiene. On my way out, I collected up Gary and Christy. We each did an inspection spin and nothing was out of the ordinary. Well, almost. I tucked a couple of Christy’s hairs up under her braid. We all ran outside and lined up together. Not the first, but also not the last.

Chief Mendez formed us up and we began to run. However, we weren’t running around the barracks. In the past two years, this was the first time we deviated from our normal morning routine. I recognized the route immediately. We were heading for the airfield, which we typically ran by on the way to classes, but we were heading there by the most direct route.

Standing in the middle of the runway was an Albatross. It was big, ugly, and had a huge transport bay that could hold an entire company. The sides of the ship had windows on it, but it looked like it was modified on the inside. It had two additional rows of seats, back-to-back, down the center of the bay.

We were filed into the ship and, on the way in, were given a parka by trainers. It felt like cloth, but also a little like plastic. Some of the instructors wore them during training exercises when it was raining. This one was different from theirs, though. It looked just like my uniform, complete with the purple yolk, but zipped up the front all the way. I put mine on immediately. It felt a little too big for me.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 8

0515 hours, September 27, 2520 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach


I woke up fifteen minutes before everyone else and was already dressed, had my teeth brushed, and my bunk cleaned by 05:30. Most of us team leaders had been getting up early to help square away our teams after the lights came on. Even then, John was awake before even we were. Such was the case, as usual, today.

“Anything new on the schedule?” I asked John after brushing my teeth. Mendez sometimes sent updated to his datapad about training in the mornings, to help prep us for the day.

“Same as the rest of the month. Class, combatives, then marksmanship” He replied, looking close at a bruise on his forehead. He had received a rather good knock on the head during the hand to hand training a couple of days previous.

“And here I thought we’d be doing something fun,” Kal said, walking in to brush her teeth.

After the lights came on, I went out to make sure that the rest of my team had their uniforms squared away and their bunks cleaned before we ran out to formation. The instructors would be going through the barracks to inspect all the bunks. If any of ours even had a single mote of dust, we’d have extra duty for a week. It’s even worse if a common area isn’t cleaned right. That’s why I went through an inspection of my team’s bunks and our assigned area in the mornings. It’s always perfect, but it’s what a team leader is supposed to do.

“Christy,” I stopped her on the way out. “Come out after everyone else and make sure the entryway is cleaned.” It was out area of responsibility and I didn’t want to get punished because someone scuffed the floor with their boot or something.

We lined up in formation in front of Chief Mendez. He nodded and we ran around the building to limber up for morning PT. We sang ‘D77 Rolling Down the Strip’ as the Cadence through the run and got back without ever being out of breath.

“PT Formation, MOVE!” Mendez yelled out.

We spread out with a yell into the correct position, turned and did it again. Returning to face Mendez, the second and fourth rows said “swish” as they took a step to the right.

He lead us in a hundred-count of push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and cross-country skiers. Looking back, I remember when I couldn’t do all of the calisthenics from morning PT, but it felt like another life and not the one I was currently living. Today, there were barely any grunts of exertion from any of the trainees, let alone any excess instruction from Mendez or the other trainers.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 9

0515 hours, October 18, 2521 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach

PT was easier this year, though nothing had really changed. Nobody even got out of breath during the run around the building. The hundred-count of the seven different exercises didn’t do more than warm anyone up in the cold morning air. We finished in time to render honors to the raising of the colors and Team Purple passed out water.

The five kilometer run to the Academy, the same route we took the first day, was no longer an issue for anyone. Rather than simply running to each of our training locations, we were instead wind-sprinting while running a cadence. Even then, when the Chief called us to a halt in front of the Academy, it took me less than a minute to get my breathing back to normal.

In Social Studies we were covering the various forms of community, planetary, and colonial governments throughout the UNSC. We went over the smaller ones first, mostly the small commune councils of the agricultural planets up to the representative confederacy of the Colonial City-States. We then studied the democratic, republic, confederate, and monarchs of the Outer Colony worlds as well as the military-controlled rule of Reach. Finally, we learned about the representation of the UEG in the inner colonies and the few alliances of the Outer Colonies and how they ruled themselves.

In Science, we studied space travel, specifically the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine and how it was essential for travel between the various star systems in the UNSC. We reviewed the hazards of space travel, some of which in graphic detail, as well as the use of cryo pods. We even learned that there were some ships that were launched before the discovery of Slipspace toward other planets with their entire crews in cryo. One of those was traveling for two-hundred years before it arrived at the already colonized planet.

Propaganda and its forms was what we studied in the Language Arts class. Today, we were going over the propaganda from the Second World War on Earth; how Germany used propaganda to unite the entire country and push it to almost conquer Europe. There were also examples of how England used counter-propaganda to unify its people in the same war. We spent a good amount of time on a man named Goebbels from Germany who was better at propaganda than only one or two propagandists since.

Each class was taking a full hour because we were no longer studying health. But, that didn’t make them any easier, especially not the math classes which were also getting tougher and more complex. I only got 91% of the answers correct when we went over ratio and proportion today.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative)
 

Jason 078

Well-Known Member
Chapter 10

0515 hours, December 21, 2521 (Military Calendar) / Epsilon Eridani System, Reach Military Complex, planet Reach

When I woke up this morning before the lights came on, I felt like something was different. I don’t know what it was, but I could feel it. Something just felt wrong. I walked back to the head and did my morning business, but it wasn’t until our pre-light meeting that I figured out what it was. Jai was missing from the meeting.

This wasn’t a huge occurrence. Some of us would sleep in until the 0530 wake-up every now and then, even John. But, there was still something that just didn’t seem right. We concluded the meeting and I walked out into the bay as the lights came on. It was still nagging at me, as I helped White Team clean their bunk-pods and did a quick walk-through of our area of responsibility.

I formed up with the rest of White on the PT field before the 0600 PT formation and that is where I realized what the problem was. Typically, the three members of Gray Team were always at the end of the formation. However, today White was pulling up the back and Jai never fell in next to me. Neither did Adriana or Mike. I sent a message up the line through the other squad leaders to reach John. Before he could reply, Mendez began morning PT.

Today, rather than running through six separate sets of exercises, we did three sets twice: push-ups, sit-ups, and mountain climbers. The second set of each was tough, and there was some sounds of exertion from the squad, but not much. I know I was able to get through all of it.

We did a slow ODST shuffle through the shorter 3-mile course to the Academy. We probably could have marched to our destination in less time, but the exercise was meant to build cardio and not move fast. There were no attacks or ambushes along the way, but that didn’t stop me from pointing out a trio of instructors smoking beside a warthog with one up by the turret. The red-tipped TTRs were visible in the feed-chain tube from the internal ammo compartment. But, none even looked at us.

When Chief Mendez fell us out for class, I saw John walk up to speak to him. I didn’t know what was going on, but still had the same funny feeling. He came into class and gathered the squad leaders for a moment.

“Gray has been transferred for special training and are no longer part of the squad.” It’s all he said before going down and taking a seat with the rest of blue.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. We have had injuries that put people out of training for up to a week, like Cal’s broken ankle or Jorge’s broken ribs, but we have never lost anyone before. They were one of the strongest teams, too. But I’d never say that out loud. They had to do with three what we all did with four. Even the team-on-team competitions, they came out on top their fair share.

----------

To read more, visit Halo: Checkmate, book 1 - Opening Moves on fanfiction.net.

Please feel free to post your reviews/criticisms/critiques here and/or there as I thrive on them (positive and negative).
 
Top