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Aspen2
Aspen
Biographical information
Name

Aspen Stafford Tuck

Homeworld

Pirth City, Arcadia

Date of birth

November 22nd, 2530

Gender

male

Hair color

black

Eye color

brown

Affiliation and military information
Affiliation
  • UNSC Navy
Rank
Specialty
  • Field Surgeon
Class

Beta Company (formerly)

  [Source]
"He's sharp as his scalpels, and self-motivated. But I wonder if he demands too much of himself sometimes."
―LCDR Kurt Ambrose

Aspen-B145 was a SPARTAN-III cadet, washout, and eventual graduated supersoldier of Beta Company. Initially trained as his team's medic, Aspen went on to specialize as a field surgeon and furthered his study of medicine to include genetics, proving gifted enough to assist with Beta's revised augmentation procedures. In researching them, however, Aspen came to fear his own genetic structure would prove incompatible and kill him, and refused augmentation. Afterward, Aspen was allowed to remain on Onyx as a drill instructor for Gamma Company and continue work on Project: CHRYSANTHEMUM to make them safer for future generations of Spartans. This work culminated in a number of washouts from Alpha and Beta, himself included, to be augmented alongside the Gammas in 2552. Requested by ONI's Beta-5 Division to work on Project: HIPPOCRATES alongside his fellow washout trainer and friend Taser-A399, Aspen was transferred to Earth and ended up serving in the last battle of the Human-Covenant War, donning the MJOLNIR suit his project had led to. Once reconstruction began, Aspen took assignment on the UNSC Themistocles, a military exploration vessel dedicated to surveying abandoned worlds for potential recolonization.

Biography

Early Life and Conscription

Born on Arcadia only months before its destruction, Aspen lost his family before ever knowing them, growing up in an orphanage on Actium. Aspen was shown to be stronger and smarter than other children his age, but was extremely introverted and avoided attention. Still, the Office of Naval Intelligence targeted him as a SPARTAN candidate and after an interview by an officer of Beta-5 Division, Aspen was abducted and taken to Camp Currahee on Onyx.

Beta Company and Refusing Augmentations

Despite the rigor of SCPO Mendez's training regime, Aspen came to adapt and took well to its challenges. While a part of Team Whiskey, the majority of Beta Company bonded under their common struggles, far surpassing Alpha Company in teamwork exercises because of LCDR Kurt Ambrose's renewed focus on it. There were of course outliers, willing loners like SPARTAN-B312, but most came to think of their fellow Betas as family. This feeling of camaraderie made the trainees particularly bitter after the disappearance of Team X-ray, convinced it was the doing of the Alpha Company washout instructors, and even B312 took opportunities for revenge, savagely beating one Alpha washout nearly to death. It was these events that made Aspen want to become a medic, to be able to save lives on the battlefield and accomplish what the others couldn't with guns and muscle[1].

Primarily instructed by the medical staff at Currahee when the Betas shifted into individual talent development phase, Aspen soon acquired all of their knowledge and sought further instruction in medicine and genetics from Deep Winter. The AI regularly updated Ambrose on the trainee's progress, and after Kurt was confident in his decision, called Aspen for a private meeting and explained to him the augmentation procedures Beta Company would go through in a few years. While Aspen was required to keep the information secret, he took pride in being able to put his knowledge to use and made several advancements regarding 87556-UD61, one of the neural modifications, resulting in a reduced casualty rate.

However, Aspen was unable to duplicate the feat for 8942-LQ99 which he was certain would kill subjects with particular genetic markers. Adding to his worry was that he possessed said markers, and became nervous as augmentations neared. Unable to find a solution, Aspen pleaded with Kurt to delay, but was refused because of Beta Company's need in the increasingly desperate war. When Kurt explained he couldn't wait, Aspen outright refused to go through them himself, certain they would kill him with no benefit to humanity or the UNSC. While Kurt never pressured him otherwise, Aspen felt guilt at abandoning his friends, worsened as his theories were confirmed with the deaths of many of his fellow candidates because of the skeletal augmentation procedures. Determined to atone for his inability to save them, Aspen requested to stay on Onyx, training the next generation of SPARTAN-IIIs and continuing his work on the augmentations.

Gamma Company Instructor

While the selection process for Gamma Company began, Aspen became a shut-in, devoting all of his time to eating, sleeping, or research using the new data from Beta Company's augmentations. But eventually Taser, a former member of Alpha Company who'd been one of Aspen's instructors, requested Ambrose assign them to the same team for observing Gamma candidates. Though reluctant, Aspen complied with Kurt's orders and accompanied Lieutenant Erin Coney and Taser to several Inner Colonies. While Coney conducted interviews, Taser and Aspen would perform the actual abductions. Although he'd been through the process before as the abductee, Aspen found being responsible for taking children to become like him weighed heavily on his conscience. While he examined and decided for himself during the voyage he was grateful to be given a chance to do so much by volunteering for the program, he wasn't as comfortable allowing others to make the same choice. His apprehension, knowing what they were about to go through, gave him a personal connection to the trainees, and made him far more willing, even eager, to leave his research and help them work through their rigorous training.

Out of the hundreds of candidates, a select few managed to impress him by showing interest and aptitude for medical training, and Aspen voluntarily took this cadre on as his responsibility to mentor as Spartan medical specialists. Among these was Seung-ah-G218, who came to his attention through her unusual empathic ability. She would often be found tending to fellow recruits or even instructors injured during the trainees' exercises, and had a natural talent to soothe and calm patients waiting for treatment and experiencing panic or trauma. Another, Cassandra-G006, came in possessing prior medical knowledge and proved an apt student, skilled enough in fields ranging from surgical procedures to genetics that Aspen requested she be allowed to assist him with his augmentation research. Kurt acquiesced, and none too soon, as the deadline for Aspen's first trial with a live subject for his findings was fast approaching.

The test subject was in fact another member of Beta Company who'd successfully bonded with the augmentations and graduated into the field, Cody-B042. Cody had narrowly escaped the rest of their company's fate in Operation: TORPEDO, and as a successful augmentee was now deemed the ideal test bed for the improvements upon last generation's procedures. Aspen, however, was hesitant to go through with performing the trial on someone he'd counted at least as a brother if not a personal friend. He began to slip back into his solitary research, desperate in the days leading up to the test to convince himself every possibility was accounted for. It was Cassandra, the young Gamma, who would shake him from his paranoia. Seeing the sorry state he'd been reduced to, Cassandra employed a few of her fellow trainees to steal a copy of Aspen's research, then double-checked his findings herself. Finding his procedures verified by a source he trusted when she returned them, Aspen went ahead more confidently with the procedure.

His fears, as it happened, were groundless. Cody took to the additional modifications made to his body better than Aspen could have hoped, his performance seeing a noticeable boost. After Cody's successful return to the field, Aspen devoted himself wholeheartedly to the Gammas' training. While he was a far kinder instructor than most other washouts, Taser included, Aspen was present during a confrontation between several washed-out Betas and Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091. The altercation was broken up by Staff Sergeant Pete Stacker, who rebuffed the washouts. Aspen soon regretted his part in it, and while too ashamed to approach them directly, his unspoken apology was accepted by the intuitive Lucy.

In his spare time, Aspen continued work at a more reasonable pace on his research, which finally came to a finish, coming to a point where he was certain he'd found solutions to all possible fatal side-effects of the augmentation. Some of these were preventive, involving modifying augmentation procedures, while others had to be reactive, correcting the problems before they killed the subject. In his report to Kurt, he reported he was fairly certain the living washouts from Alpha and Beta Companies could also be successfully augmented. Immediately, Kurt made arrangements with Colonel Ackerson to have them taken to the UNSC Hopeful and included in the same augmentations. Aspen was directly credited with saving lives in Gamma Company. His methods of responding to muscle densifier problems were the most dramatic examples, saving Ash-G099 and Morgana-G018 from cardiac arrest crashes, but the number saved by his other improvements may never be known.

Research and Development

Aspen
The first iteration of the MJOLNIR/HM variant, known as the HIPPOCRATES suit.
Aspen: "So we're building a one-man field hospital suit for special forces commandos?"
Taser: "You want to make a Hippocratic Oath joke?"
―Aspen and Taser en route to Earth.

Despite that Aspen's research ensured every Gamma candidate survived, Kurt listed several killed in augmentations to reinforce the Headhunters. Still, after Aspen had devoted so much to them, Kurt couldn't let him believe he'd failed, and let him in on the classified group, making sure he understood he could never talk about what little he was told. Instead of returning to Onyx where he'd constantly have to lie to Gamma Company, Kurt offered him a position at the UNSC Operational Test and Evaluation Center working with Taser on a special R&D project. Aspen eagerly accepted, and was transported to Earth along with Taser to begin work on Project: HIPPOCRATES, an attempt to create a prototype combat medic armor variant for SPARTAN personnel.

The project presented many challenges, the first of which was a suitable base to work from. HIPPOCRATES began working off of Semi-Powered Infiltration Armor, but after the Fall of Reach, they were granted a set of MJOLNIR Mark VI/V variant Armor originally intended for Li-008. As modifications began, they had to find a way to protect delicate medical equipment in the field. This was mostly Taser's responsibility, cutting out storage cavities in the titanium armor plates. It was up to Aspen to decide what equipment to include, balancing what was necessary with what was too bulky or fragile, and finding alternative devices to integrate. Because Taser's modifications effected the armor's integrity, they compensated with a stronger shielding system powered by a new linear accelerator[2], the energy of which could be devoted to defibrillators. Given the high-risk nature of most SPARTAN missions, a complete revival apparatus was included in case of critical injuries. Eventually, because of the complexity of the surgical appendages, a 'dumb' artificial intelligence program called Nurse was installed to aid the wearer.

However, one snag that proved difficult to solve was the matter of electromagnetic pulses from Covenant plasma weaponry shorting out the additional equipment, which wasn't protected like the original suit's electronics. Aspen submitted a request for AI assistance, and was surprised to receive it in the familiar form of Deep Winter. Pleased to work with his old friend again, Aspen got the feeling Winter was drawing out the work, but wasn't allowed to ask the AI about why it was on Earth, rather than on Onyx or shut down. After his work was done, Winter was collected by ONI personnel, and was no longer allowed contact with Aspen or Taser.

Battle of Earth

Personality and Traits

While his fears about the Beta augmentations were proved correct, Aspen was haunted by the feeling that he'd abandoned his friends in Beta Company and strove to help the future SPARTAN-IIIs. Often going for long periods of time without sleep, his efforts paid off for the Gammas, but didn't alleviate his personal guilt. Continuing to push himself in his research and development work, after the end of the Human-Covenant War Aspen found himself tired, especially with the idea of continuing war with alien races, and was glad to be assigned to the Themistocles.

Notes and References

  1. A theme for Aspen
  2. Also used by Vinh-030

Deceased