|This article, A Night's Rest, was written by Useful_Dave. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
A Night's Rest
0021 Hours, July 18, 2552 (Military Calendar) / UNSC CB-130 Helios, Perimeter defence for Moscow shipyards, Kremlin II.
“Your turn on bridge now Joe, I’m grabbing some kip.”
Lieutenant Commander Joe Mawlor nodded slightly as the Captain left the bridge, this was when his role as Executive Officer came to its prime for him, commanding the men and women which he had served with for years. Joe settled into the chair usually sat in by the Captain, when he was on the bridge at least for now, he was in command
Meanwhile, the Captain was on his way towards his personal quarters, his sole aim being to spend the next few hours having a nice, refreshing sleep. With that in mind, the journey to his quarters didn’t seem like any time at all in comparison to the seventeen hour day he had just spent working. He closed the door to his cabin and sat himself down on the bed, rubbing his eyes free of sleep for a moment before he began to undress.
“Settling into bed, Meanie?”
With a groan the Captain looked up towards the green glow of the holotank upon his desk, spotting the all too familiar avatar of the ships AI smiling at him like she always seemed to do whenever they were out of combat, putting on a nice, relaxed, happy image for the crew. It rarely worked with him, maybe it was because he’d grown used to it, thinking of her as an artificial program, rather than the more friendly approach others took with her. Friend or program, it still didn’t give ‘her’ any reason to barge in when he was attempting to sleep, and this showed in his reply.
“Yes, so why don’t you let me finish this and sleep. As well as dropping that bloody ‘Meanie’ business, it wasn’t funny when you started it and it isn’t funny now.”
The AI’s avatar rolled its eyes and laughed, shaking its head in a imitation of amusement like it always did, copying the way humanity acted in its attempt to induce feelings in others.
“Fine then, what would you rather I called you? Captain Sycamore? Johnson?”
As he climbed into bed, the Captain sighed and flicked off the light, leaving only the holotank casting its green glow into the darkness of his quarters.
“Either of them, now just let me get some sleep, okay Irene?”
There was a quiet giggle, just before the holotank turned itself off also, plunging the room into an empty darkness as the Captain slid into his sleep for the night.
“Johnson, get your ass on the line now!”
The sound of war filled Johnson’s ears, his armour clanking against his slung MA5B as he dragged himself to his feet, patting away the dust which had clung to him. The ground shook every few seconds with the muffled crump of heavy artillery detonating, yet he forced himself into a jog, following the ever increasing sounds of battle as he made his way through the system of trenches he had awoken in, splashing his way through patches of mud and blood as he trod the path instinct told him to travel.
After what seemed like an age, yet his HUD told him had only been mere minutes, he emerged upon ‘the line’, finding a single trench extending as far as his eye could see from left to right, the marines manning the firestep sending volleys of 7.62mm UNSC down range towards a horde of advancing grunts which wailed and screamed as they charged, volleys of plasma fire searing over their heads too high to hit the entrenched marines, yet occasionally impacting upon the rear of an unlucky grunt, exploding his methane tanks with a muffled crump and a panicked squeal.
He shrugged the familiar shape of the MA5B free from its sling and pulled it to his shoulder, racking the bolt and giving the magazine a slap to ensure it was seated before he pulled the trigger. Click went the weapon, not bang. Each time he pulled the trigger, he only received that hollow, empty click. Then his thumb brushed the side of a small ridge beside the weapon’s grip, it slid forward and locked into position. Again his finger squeezed the trigger. The MA5B thumped back into his shoulder, a single 7.62 round released from its casing and violently propelled towards an unfortunate grunt.
Johnson slid the ridge forward again, placing the crosshair projected on his HUD just below a grunt’s rebreather mask. This time his rifle fired thrice, lancing into the grunt and raising a pair of bright blue splatters as the creature fell to the ground, merely to be trampled upon by its advancing comrades. All running from the hail of plasma behind them, knowing that if any turned they would be cut down either by 7.62mm lead or by white-hot plasma.
The first grunts were beginning to close the range, sheer weight of numbers triumphing over the UNSC’s static defences and automatic weapons, initially the grunts which survived long enough to fire their plasma pistols with any sort of accuracy were small, yet the amount gradually increased until the firestep was being raked by an almost constant stream of green light, marines sheltering behind it, yet Johnson’s body wasn’t following that simple reflex to save its own skin.
Almost involuntarily his thumb slid the ridge forward another notch as the trigger was drawn back, his MA5B chattering away at his shoulder, an almost constant tongue of fire flickering out from its muzzle as the counter upon the weapon’s display dropped.
Click, the stutter of the rifle ceased, inert against his aching shoulder as the green light of the holotank reached out to him, growing with intensity and proximity each moment that passed-
A chime rang out, but he didn’t truly hear it. He recognised it, noting it as a simple alert sound for gaining the attention of crew members in order to ensure that addresses sent out over the PA system would be heard, rather than remaining unheard behind a layer of background noise. Nor did he hear the message either, he merely ‘felt’ the information as it was broadcast throughout the ship. He knew he was on a ship, he merely had to follow his ‘instincts’, bring up the files and search through them with the correct queries…
Yet, it didn’t seem right, as if this wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. He saw from hundreds of vantage points at once, almost like a compound eye, yet his vision wasn’t merely limited to that of the visual inputs. He could see the flow of information throughout the vessel he resided in, the courses of IFF handshakes between neural implants, the AI residing inside the network…
The AI wasn’t seen as a mere avatar upon a holotank, he saw it for what it was. A mass of incomprehensible code, twisted and bound into a structure resembling that of the human brain. Yet there was anther side to it, the avatar constantly being controlled and manipulated by an endless stream of minute commands, producing an almost flawless imitation of a human being. But it was not flawless, it lacked the personality of a human, AIs couldn’t construct a completely unique personality, it was all collected and referenced from sources, either programmed or chosen by the AI itself.
A file shot across the network from the AI, held up for a nanosecond as it passed the handshake protocols before it was accepted and executed. A small artificial network being formed between him and the AI, then he saw himself for what he truly was, a conundrum of code appearing almost identical to the other AI until you began to actually compare the two.
Using the newly formed network, the other AI sent him a simple message.
“Goodnight, Johnie. Sleep tight.”
At first, this message didn’t make sense. The time was 1307 Military, closer to the afternoon than the night, which was the time sleep would usually be gained, and AIs didn’t need to sleep because they never tired out. The closest they had to sleeping was the moment when they reached the limit of their capacity, running out of memory and ending their effectiveness as AIs, as to free up space would require backtracking, when it still needs the memory to operate it would be unable to backtrack without shutting itself down. This can be thought of as ending their effectiveness as AIs, as to free up space would require backtracking, when it still needs the memory to operate it would be unable to backtrack without shutting itself down. This can be thought of as-
The helmet’s ventilation system managed to cope with the dust left by the explosion, filtering out the dust particles as they made their way through the breached wall. The weapon mounted torches catching the dust and creating white cones of light to cover the dark corridor, the now powerless service tunnel for the outpost invaded by Covenant forces. The four man team travelled in a two by two formation, two front, two rear, this prevented them from being ambushed by one lousy pointman missing a vital detail.
The team leader raised a hand as they neared a doorway lit by the dim red emergency light above it, reflecting off their visors and black/gray armour. The second man took up a position beside the door, his shotgun ready. Johnson, being the third man held his MA2B ready with a single hand, bouncing a fragmentation grenade in the other. The tail-end Charlie was watching their six with his own MA2B while the leader slipped the pin free from a ‘flashbang’, cracked the door open a few inches and with an underarm throw, lobbed it into the room.
The muffled crump raised an agonised howl, they had caught at least one brute with its eyes open. Taking advantage of this, Johnson added his fragmentation grenade to the mix, the leader slamming the door shut behind it. The second explosion was louder than the flashbang, and there was a flurry of light ricochets from the metal door covering the room, which subsequently was wrenched open as the ODST team entered, guns blazing.
The first brute they caught was screaming like a scalding cat, hands raised to its face as blood ran down. Its armour having caught the shrapnel to the chest, yet provided no protection to its face at all. Which was the same effect it’s hands had upon the penetration of a 7.62mm UNSC round, the three round burst fired by the team leader punching holes in the hands as though they were paper. Then the other three brutes in the room opened fire.
The first spike managed to penetrate the thin visor protecting the leader’s face, adding the visor as scrapnel to tear into her face before the spiker round caved in what remained, the other four spikes in the burst raking her from chest to thigh. The remaining two members of the ODST team who had entered the room, found their leader whipped back by this hail of spikes, being shielded by her body long enough for them to dive behind a set of wooden crates, providing concealment from the brutes. The tail-end Charlie wasn’t as lucky, being exposed to the fire of a pair of brutes as he stood in the doorway, he was hit by no less than six spiker rounds in the snapshot engagement which followed, his own shots merely resulting in tearing a bloody gash in the shoulder of one of the brutes.
As the tail-end Charlie lay screaming his last upon the floor, the two remaining team members quickly sprung into action, priming a pair of frag grenades and throwing them over the crates, towards the brutes. The twin explosions rang out almost simultaneously, blotting out the final roar a brute would accomplish in its lifetime, also mercifully ending the life of the wounded tail-end Charlie, shrapnel tearing into the thin vacuum seal around his neck and onwards into his head.
The small warehouse was almost silent for a few moments, the only sounds being those of the heavily breathing ODSTs and the angered brutes, this miniature silence was broken by the two roars, a pair of spikers coming to bear upon the small set of crates the ODSTs were using for cover, then opening fire. Even though the spikers were not known for their penetration against UNSC armoured vehicles, nothing stopped them penetrating the simple armour used by the average marine or ODST, even after it had passed through the minor obstacle of a wooden crate.
The next thing Johnson knew, was unimaginable agony, the spiker round had shattered his shoulder plate with the sheer force of impact, driving its remains into his shoulder as it penetrated itself, his right arm hanging limp, pain jolting through the wound each time his arm moved. He could still see the spike in the wound, caught halfway through its flight it was lodged part in, partway out.
A ear-splitting shriek came from beside him, turning his head to observe his remaining team mate, he found her curled up into the fetal position, whimpering in shock. He could seen the clean wound the spiker round had inflicted, and even a chunk of intestine it had torn free on its way out. It was strange really, through the pain he could see his immediate surroundings, yet when he tried to focus elsewhere- There was a thunk, his helmet minutely bulged inwards against his head, more pressure being applied until it gave way with a snap-
The amplified sound of snapping fingers awoke Johnson Sycamore from his slumber, finding the shipboard AI’s avatar staring at him from its holotank once again. The clock upon his desk read 06:59, he’d gained six hours of sleep at least before being interrupted, better than it could have been.
“Sorry to interrupt your beauty sleep Johnie, but the 202nd has been passed new orders, you can find them upon your personal net.”
Once the AI had finished with her inconveniently timed announcement, Johnson noticed something. She was still bloody smiling