New Alexandria, Eposz - August 23, 2552 18:57 Hours
I know it's selfish to dwell on the dead. Wasteful, even. That's what Mendez always told us, me and every other teary-eyed orphan in Beta. Is that what he told you, too, back when you were a kid? But I can't get this out of my head. You shouldn't have given me your dog tags... every time I feel them tangling up with mine, I get this tight feeling in my throat. It's starting to hurt now.
I made it to civilization, or at least what's left of it, nine days after you... left. Got pretty banged up in reentry, but we're made to get banged up and keep going, I guess. The horizon was burning, and I kept glancing up at the sky, though I don't know what I was really looking for. Maybe that beautiful white-on-purple cloud you made when you took out that supercarrier's midsection. Yeah. Bet it looked like a star to everyone down below.
(I didn't cry when you threw me off and I didn't cry when I watched you go, but after I woke up on the ground and realized I was by myself, it hit me and I couldn't hold back.)
I feel guilty now. Spent so many years as a shadow I forgot what it meant to be a person. I didn't say enough. I watched how you and the others interacted, and it scared me when I figured out I was studying all of you so I could do it, too. Emile was wrong when he said you forgot what you were. Spartans like me, and maybe him, are the ones that forgot we're human beings and not tools or weapons like assault rifles and grenades. I'm glad you reminded me of what and who I am.
Were we friends? I like to think so. I like how our numbers were always side by side: 5 and 6. Sure, I got paired up with Kat and Jun on a couple ops, but we were a team within a team. You said you had my back, and I believed you. Trusted you. Did you know that? I've spent most of my life reading between the lines; after so many years as an expendable number, I got good at figuring out ulterior motives. There wasn't any of that in Noble. Especially not in you. You laid down covering fire when I needed it, and you caught me when I fell. I'll never forget that.
(I remember how you clapped me on the back after we took back Sword Base. Not many people, even Spartans, have ever done that. It's like they're afraid I'll reach out and snap their neck. You treated me like a human, not a thing. You were good to everyone in Noble, even Emile.)
I've seen a lot of planets fall. Reach should have just been another name to add to a long list, but now it's personal. I'm sitting in the back of this Pelican now, watching skyscrapers burn as the rain falls in sheets, and it's like watching a deep wound bleed out. I'm glad you're not seeing this. You considered every inch of this planet as your home and did everything you could to protect it. To see what's become of it now... it would break your heart. I'm glad you weren't with me when I first came to New Alexandria, either. I watched people getting butchered by Brutes because there weren't enough Army units left to save everyone. I saw a transport with six hundred civvies on it get shot down, and nobody could do a damn thing about it. And I cared. I cared because I knew you would have cared. I've changed since I joined this team, since I met you. It hurts, but it's good that it hurts. I still have a heart after all.
(I had to tell Kat you didn't make it. Her voice fell, though she tried to hide it. You're being missed a lot right now.)
You told me to tell them to make it count, and I will once I think I can do it without my voice breaking. Right now all I can do is sit here and stare out the back of this bird, thinking these melancholy thoughts. I feel... lonely. Crazy, right? The "lone wolf" is lonesome now. All I have for company is the pilot and the Banshees skulking in the shadows of tall buildings. They're not exactly talkative right now.
All right, I admit it, I'm angry that you had to go play hero and leave me to deal with all this. I did the one thing no Spartan is ever supposed to do: I got attached. And now that the attachment has been severed, it stings and I'm all out of ointment. I should have ordered you not to do what you did. I could have. But I remembered how you sounded when Dot told you there was nothing you could do for Dr. Halsey. I let your feelings get to me, and now I'm sitting here wondering why the hell I let you fire that Slipspace bomb. I wish we could have known it wouldn't make a difference. Then you'd be here with me and I wouldn't be sulking like a petulant child-
No, you had to do what you did, because that's who you are. Were. Even if it didn't change the fact that an entire fleet was incoming, it did change something. Now I have a reason to care about what's happening. I'm going to finish what you started and fight until I fall over dead for this rock because it's what you would do and I'm not about to let your sacrifice be in vain. You gave me a purpose, Jorge. I'm not just Noble Six anymore. I'm a human being who's going to fight for humanity and show the Covenant how pissed off one Spartan can get when someone she cares about is taken away. They want Reach? They'll have to go through me first.
A part of you will always be with me. Not just these dog tags, either. It's like you're somehow still here, like all the little bits of you left over from the explosion got into the atmosphere and became Reach. It's sad because the planet is dying now, and soon there won't be anything left to fight for. I know this. We're just buying time right now, cleaning house as much as possible so more people can get out. Can we win? Maybe. I don't know. Perhaps I'm in denial.
There has to be a reason for all this. A reason why you had to leave us... leave me. That's all I'm holding onto right now. It's a slick edge, but my fingers are dug in and I'm not letting go till I'm dead.
I remember what you said after I said firing the bomb would be a one-way trip. "We all make it sooner or later." I hated hearing it at the time, but now it's actually a comfort. I don't know where the trip ends, but I hope you'll wait for me there. I'm tired of being a lone wolf. When I go, I want to know I'll find you on the other side.
Can you do that for me?
I know you can. You said you had my back. I'm holding you to that now.
Business Management • Cleaning House • Change in Management • First Kill • Job Application • The Pupil • Sparring Match • Tools of the Trade • Blinding Tears • The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing • Divergence