|1539 Hours, August 19th, 2552
Outpost Foxtrot-Whiskey, Eposz, Reach
This was it. Reach was falling to the Covenant, UNSC forces scattered across the planet, and here he sat, awaiting his death in a bunker.
Calvin Roe sat forward in his chair, and buried his face in his hands. It was funny, in some twisted way, that he would go out like this. All these years of near-misses, narrow escapes and desperate struggles, and for what? Humanity was being slowly but surely pushed back, all the way to Reach, their final fortress world. Earth was next, and after that, who knew what was going to happen? He was certain that safeguards had been made, even before the war, to preserve humanity in the event of something like this, but that wasn't the point. They were already losing, and dangerously close to being defeated.
Roe thought about his own life, all the things he'd done over the years. It was a little late to do anything about it, but considering the circumstances, now was as good a time as any to reflect on things. The gunfire had all but stopped outside. Everything felt absolutely meaningless. He'd been a respected individual within the Office of Naval Intelligence for decades now, but had never stepped into the spotlight like Halsey or Ackerson did. He would just be a name on a sheet now, a reference: Doctor Calvin Roe, Civilian Consultant. Most of the stuff he had headed up wouldn't surface for many years, if at all. Right now, he was about to die.
He sat at a desk, and looked around for any weapons he might use. Roe hadn't actually used a gun in combat for roughly fifty three years now, a lifetime ago on a far-off, forgotten world. He'd killed, and despised every second of it. It was strange, really. He was fully aware that he'd given commands for people to be killed, watched a blip vanish from a radar screen without so much as a flicker of emotion. That was probably why he'd disliked speaking to the children, why Calvin Roe could never look any of them in the eye after what he'd done. That was his crowning achievement, and his greatest shame: Sigma.
Though the SPARTAN-II project was the brainchild of Catherine Halsey, a rival he'd thoroughly despised since their first meeting, it was his own intervention, and subsequent effort to keep her in the dark, that made Sigma so great. Twenty of her specially picked candidates that had merely been 'passed over' for recruitment, trained in absolute isolation and secrecy on Earth, with exactly the same results as the vile woman's work on Reach. Stealing and subverting her own design had been absolutely glorious, he had to admit. All approved by HIGHCOM, too. Or rather, all approved by his old friend, Margaret. The Admiral despised Halsey more than he did, though it was another who prevented the woman's early 'removal' by ONI.
Richard Mack Senior, Roe's closest friend, was dead. He could remember their first meeting, all those years ago. Even then, the man had an odd power about him that Roe could never quite fathom. He'd had his one moment of heroism, saving the soldier's life, something that had been repaid in kind. The Spartans needed a trainer, and Mack was the best. A legend. Something to aspire to. He'd heard that Halsey had picked up some brute from the Navy to train hers. Now, he and most of the others from back then were dead.
It was strange, finally sitting here and looking back. The years had passed by so quickly, leaving far too much undone, and a lot of good people dead or gone. Roe remembered those he had known: Redford: Killed on Harvest, though his son was still active for ONI. Hollister: Still missing, even ONI had no clue where she'd gone. Ackton: Killed in action a few years ago in, something that, oddly, Mack's own progeny had been witness to. Roe had no children. No family to speak of. He slumped in his chair, the weight of all these years bearing down on him. What legacy would he leave to humanity?
Sigma. The source of all his guilt, all his anxiety over the years. While Halsey sat safely in one of her hideouts, probably under SWORD or CASTLE, acting as though she was a loving mother to her children, Roe faced the cold, hard facts that he had committed unforgivable crimes, for the apparent 'greater good'. Even if by some miracle he survived the war, Roe would never be brought up for what he had done. Not while Margaret had power, anyway. That was what mortified him. Some small part of the old man's mind desperately wished for punishment, though none would ever come.
Well, no official punishment, in any case. He was about to face up to everything he'd done, alone in this bunker, far away from home.
He hadn't, couldn't allow himself to form any attachment to the children. Unacceptable. Halsey had, to his disgust, made herself out to be an object of approval and attention for her Spartans, all of whom would die to protect her. The interest that woman showed in one in particular was astounding, considering all the atrocities he'd inflicted. In some part, Roe was glad to admit, he had some form of moral high ground, though not denying he'd done wrong wasn't much to go on. Even those they'd sent out as children. God, the children. He remembered standing before a dozen twelve year-olds, the last survivors of a group of three hundred, and telling them that they were his newest recruits. The Spartans had seemed, long before then, a necessity for the prevention of civil war. If the supersoldiers weren't there by the time the war broke out, then humanity would've lost this war years ago.
They were a necessary evil, he supposed. A shrill alarm began to blare outside the room, picking up an unauthorised breach of the bunker. The security door, which was made of three feet of reinforced titanium, slowly began to buckle. Roe smiled to himself. Maybe this had been his fate all along, punishment for his crimes. He momentarily wondered about an afterlife before giving up, as he'd soon be finding out the answers. At this point, Roe didn't care whether humanity won, not out of any misanthropic tendencies, but because it didn't matter to him. Someone else could work out how to beat the alien bastards.
The door slowly began to cave inwards. He walked around to the other side of his desk, ready to face what was coming. Any regrets? Maybe one: He'd never addressed his Spartans by their first names. Never. 145, 098, 035, 133 and so on. Perhaps being more like her might have eased his conscience, a little. With a final, wailing creak of protest, the metal security door crumpled and fell, revealing a figure behind it. This was it. Roe knew this day would come, and after his final, unforgivable actions today? He welcomed it.
The figure stepped through the doorway, towering over the old man. He was roughly seven feet tall, clad in scarred and dented power armour, painted a dull tan colour. Roe could see himself reflected in the featureless, impassive visor, his gaze momentarily dropping to the shotgun wielded by the SPARTAN-II.
"Hello, Marco," he said, smiling.