He was too angry to sleep.
The metal floor was cold against the bare soles of his feet as Felix padded into the training room. He bound his hair in a tail at the back of his head, his fingers rasping against the stubbled undercut. As he crossed the painted ring denoting the edge of the hologram emitter he snapped, "Start efficiency training."
"You are not wearing your armor. Without proper protective gear the risk of injury - "
Felix bared his teeth. "FILSS, did I fucking stutter? Start the goddamn program," he said.
Green hologramatic circles flared to life in two concentric rings, one atop the other as they spun in opposite directions. He bounced on the balls of his feet and shook out his arms in a quick warm up, dropped into a ready stance, then hurled himself into the exercise.
His hands and feet flew through a familiar pattern, the targets beeping and turning red as his hits landed. Within twenty seconds both rings were fully crimson.
"You show a 3.3% decrease in efficiency since your last attempt," FILSS reported.
Felix ground his teeth. "Again," he said.
Once more he was surrounded by green targets, though not for long.
"You show a 0.3% increase in efficiency."
"You show a 0.7% increase in efficiency."
"You show a 1.8% increase in efficiency."
Over and over he blazed through the exercise, his mind wandering as he tried to work himself into exhaustion. It had been weeks since he'd had a decent night's rest, and this shit was getting old. But no matter what he did sleep would never come without a fight. Drugs, sex, and exercise were his only options and they varied in their effectiveness.
He would toss and turn for hours, trying to stifle the thoughts running through his head. He couldn't stop reliving that humiliating scene on Chorus; years of hard work and manipulation ruined because of a fucking simulation soldier with a fucking camera.
His mood darkened at the memory. The oldest trick in the book and he'd run right into it; been outsmarted by a goddamn moron. He could easily imagine Tucker laughing up his victory right now, gloating that he'd gotten one over on the big bad mercenary. The thought burned within him and nothing he did could ease the searing hate festering in his gut.
So he was too angry to sleep.
Felix snarled a curse as he overextended, his fist passing too far through the last target.
"You show a 0.8% decrease in efficiency."
This wasn't working. He was too aggravated for control exercises and the failures were making it worse. "New program," he said, "Offensive melee training."
The circles vanished, replaced by a hardlight hologram of a soldier in standard issue olive green MJOLNIR armor, fists raised in a defensive pose.
Felix paused, considering. "Change the color."
"What would you prefer?"
"Aqua." The word was a venomous hiss that slid between his teeth.
The hologram wavered and shifted hue. The corner of Felix's mouth pulled back in a sneer. "Begin," he growled and threw himself forward.
The solid resistance felt good as Felix landed hit after hit, attacking the midsection until the hologram lowered its arms. Felix changed targets instantly, sinking his fist into the hologram's throat where the only protection was the gel-layer bodysuit.
"Incapacitating hit," FILSS announced as the hologram clutched its neck and staggered back, unfortunately without the choked gagging that usually accompanied such a strike.
This was more satisfying than circles, Felix decided. "Again," he said.
The hologram instantly recovered. Felix launched another series of attacks, forcing the hologram to move to avoid being flanked. Felix juked a punch at the hologram's chest, and when it twisted for a textbook slip he slammed his foot into the side of its knee, right in the gap between the greave and cuisse.
The hologram collapsed without a noise as its knee buckled, but Felix grinned as he imagined the wet pop and agonized scream - he had plenty of memories to pull the sounds from. Vicious pleasure slithered through him and spread a warm glow in his chest.
Felix closed his eyes and drew a long breath through his nose, savoring the sensation. He flexed his hand and remembered the wash of hot blood pouring over it as he buried his knife to the hilt in Tucker's side. He remembered that sweet, barely audible gasp as he twisted the blade, the ragged breaths as Tucker crouched on the ground trying to staunch the wound with his hand -
- the smug laughter as Tucker revealed the AI working the helmet cam -
Felix snarled, his good mood shattered as shame curdled his joy. He should have gutted the little bastard! Jerked the knife through the gap between breastplate and codpiece, watched as blood and guts and shit bulged out and been satisfied that even though the mission had failed he'd have devastated an entire planet by turning their hero into a fucking martyr right in front of their eyes!
He whirled, storming to the equipment locker and ripping the doors open. He snatched a holoknife from its cradle and rounded on the hologram, still down on one knee.
"Reset, manual stop only," he hissed as he stalked forward, the transparent blade gleaming to life as he returned to the ring. The hologram rose to its feet just in time to defend itself against a furious assault. Over and over Felix slashed the blade at the weak points in the armor, losing himself in his anger.
Throat, knee, armpit, thigh.
"Killing hit. Crippling hit. Killing hit. Crippling hit."
He hurled himself bodily at the hologram, driving the blade into its side.
Rage boiled away his sanity. Felix roared as he stabbed again and again, driving the hologram to the ground. He threw himself on top to straddle it without ever pausing.
"Incapacitating hit. Incapacitating hit. Incapacitat - "
He slung the knife away, pounding his fist into the visor of the helmet as he howled curses. He wanted it to be the visor of Tucker's helmet. He wanted to shatter it, to push his fist through it and into the skull behind it as that bastard shrieked and kicked and begged and bled -
All it took was the angle of his hand to be just a little bit wrong. White hot pain lanced up his arm before the snap of bone ever reached his ears. He lurched away from the hologram, cradling his broken hand to his chest as he screamed between clenched teeth. He sank to his knees and curled his body around his injury as if he could physically shield it from the pain.
Felix's head snapped up to see Locus entering the room as the hologram faded away. He scowled; this was not what he needed right now.
Locus stopped just out of reach, his face unreadable as he stared down at Felix.
"You lost focus," he said. He wasn't talking about the training session.
Felix's raw temper flared. "FUCK! YOU!" he bellowed.
Locus was unfazed, continuing as if Felix hadn't spoken. "You put yourself before the mission. You let yourself get manipulated, and now our operation is on the brink of failure. You should be removed from fieldwork until you've proven yourself to be capable of keeping your ego under control," he said.
If his hand wasn't broken Felix would have slammed it into Locus' nose. He shoved the pain to the back of his mind as he staggered to his feet and planted himself right in front of the taller man. "Fuck. You," he said again, grinding his teeth as his arm began to throb. He used his good hand to jab a finger into Locus' chest. "I will kill that little shitsack of a soldier. I don't give a fuck what I have to do to do it. I'll fucking bail on this stupid operation if I have to. I'll crawl through hell and back on my fucking knees to see him burn. I want to see his entire fucking world turned to goddamn ash around him before I slit his throat. And not you, or Control, or fucking anyone else is going to stop me."
"Good," Locus said. He stepped back and held up a data pad. "We have our orders."
Felix glared suspiciously at his partner and snatched the datapad away. Thumbing it to life, he scanned the contents quickly, stopping as he got to a certain part.
"Are you fucking serious?!" he snarled, lifting his head to glare.
"Keep reading," Locus said. Grumbling under his breath, Felix did as he was told.
Anger vanished as he did, replaced first by surprise and then with sadistic glee. A small titter bubbled up from his chest. When he didn't stop it, it morphed into a chuckle that grew and grew until he had his head thrown back, howling with laughter.
Eventually his mirth subsided, dulled by time and the hot pain in his hand. He allowed a few last, tired giggles to escape as he caught his breath. "Oh, buddy, don't you worry," he said, a feral grin splitting his face as he offered the datapad back, "I can definitely be trusted with this."
Locus allowed a barely perceptible smile in answer. "I thought you would approve," he said, collecting the datapad. He turned and began walking out of the room, throwing over his shoulder, "Head to the infirmary then get some rest. You leave in the morning."
Later that night Felix lay in his bed, smiling as he closed his eyes. It may have just been the painkillers, but that night he slept soundly for the first time since Chorus.
**Red vs Blue is property of Rooster Teeth Productions, LLC. Halo is property of Microsoft, Bungie, and 343 Industries.
Much love to my beta, Aryashi.**