|0414 Hours, April 20th, 2552
Camp Hathcock, Highland Mountains, Reach
Another night, another nightmare.
Kane-098 lay in his bed, eyes wide open as he stared up at the cold metal ceiling. His quarters within Camp Hathcock's barracks were fittingly rather spartan and contained only the basic necessities. Were it not for the heavy kit bag by the door, one would never realise it was even occupied regularly.
Need to sleep, he thought, trying to will himself into unconsciousness. Have to rest.
For as long as he could remember, Kane had had bad dreams. Some were vague; brief flashes of a childhood he barely remembered and parents he did not recognise, while others were much more vivid. Lately, he had been plagued by the latter, reliving particular moments of combat from his past twenty-seven years as a soldier. In each, he was faced with the phantoms of fallen friends, watching them die again and again to the Covenant. Each time, the same thought echoed through his mind.
Why wasn't it me?
Four of his closest friends - other Spartans - had been killed in the past few years, all sacrificing themselves so that others could survive. Each time, Kane had privately wondered why they had stepped forth and given up their lives without hesitation, and wondered why the moment hadn't come for him. He sat up, pulled himself out of bed, and strode across to his room's meagre bathroom. A dim light winked on as he entered, and as the Spartan saw his reflection above the sink he realised just how tired he looked. Not just from his lack of sleep, but in general. Campaign after campaign against the Covenant was beginning to take its toll. Kane turned on the faucet and splashed his face with cold water before staring back into the mirror.
I was dreaming of Harpa. Again.
Two Spartans, Nef and Fenn, had died there. The first had been beyond his reach. The other - their team leader and the man who had held Sigma Team together since training - could still be alive today had Kane offered his own life instead. Forced into a terrible deal by a Covenant leader, SPARTAN-145 had decided to spit on their enemy's false offering of a ceasefire in exchange for navigational data by delivering an entirely different gift: a nuclear weapon. He had done so to save the lives of not only his team, but hundreds of others aboard a Frigate fleeing the ruined colony world.
"Good luck, boys." Those were the last words he ever said to us.
And while his allies had tried offering themselves up instead of their leader, Kane had stood and watched, too afraid to speak. He was a Spartan, and had spent every day of his life since his abduction enduring things that would push a regular person to their very limits. Rigorous training and indoctrination had made he and his fellows utterly loyal towards the UNSC and willing to defend it to the death, yet in wanting to remain alive at any cost, Kane found himself sickened by such Human selfishness and self-preservation unbecoming of a Spartan. It was something to be scrubbed out and removed, lest it compromise him or their mission.
"Never again," he murmured to himself, intent on winning the fight against an enemy that had stood against him all his life: Fear.
With that, Kane returned to his bed. The SPARTAN-II sighed, closed his eyes, and resumed his efforts at getting some sleep.