10. Discerned Driver

Chuck threw up in a bedpan as soon as the fight was over, as though every painful blow reached his eyes at once and he remembered that he should vomit at the sight of something so brutal. I patted his shoulder and told him to rest as I began to follow the medics that were rolling Caliber to the emergency rooms, all the while trying to determine the best course of treatment. As we entered the hall, I caught a glimpse of Trevv, the medics trying to remove his helmet in a way that wouldn't damage his possibly fractured neck; Carol giving them a diagnosis with a helpful tone.

My mind was racing from the fight, the adrenaline rush, even though I held myself from assisting Cal. I kept playing the fight, trying to figure out something that was bothering me, something about Trevv that I could not put my finger on. The way he moved; a certain muscle twitch when Cal had gotten a shot in the stomach, right before Trevv lost the sense that this was a friendly spar; at least, as friendly as an ODST can manage. Something about that bothered me, as though I'd seen something like it before.

We were in a hall, rushing towards a destination that I didn't really think about, my mind was racing, and I could barely focus on one thing at once, but there were a few things I remembered when we landed on site. While I was talking to Carol on the way in, the way some of the engineers whispered to each other.

The Spartan killed eighty-six aliens in that battle, I felt envy for her ability, even compared to the ODST, who so many without me witnessing, it will be stuck in my mind for weeks now; not knowing. Fifty is all I can do, only fifty. I looked into one of the rooms open to the hall, the machines all smoky and covered with blood. A blink shows them to me again, clean and white, with military efficiency.

Trevv's fighting style reminds me of someone I looked up to long ago, back when I was growing up on a far colony, living without fear of conquest or war. It wasn't until the UNSC and the rebels arrived with their conflict that I killed a man for the first time. I wasn't sure if he was one of the rebels that tried to bring down the UNSC, or if he was someone who took advantage of the chaos they brought. I was thirteen and he was trying to force himself on my mother. I remember the fear and sickness when I saw his eyes go dark, the blood draining from his throat.

I felt tears run down my face as the room lost its color. I remember that smiling face, a cocky smile every time I was knocked down. Sparring during training on our outer colony, yet the memory of when eludes me. It could have been training for the militia or boot camp for the marines. These memories. I haven't thought about these memories in years; the memories of Ashley, the girl who taught me to fight when I was growing up.

I was dizzy; nauseous by how the room was moving so much; finding it harder to think. Strange devices and electronics being transferred back and forth in the hanger. The men winking and nodding to each other, cooperating without words, as though it was all planned out in advance. I remember… they were bombs, the devices in the hanger; rebels trying to get another strike at the UNSC. I fell to my knees, barely noticing the doctors around me, rushing forward to help. So this is what dying feels like; I must've been wounded more than I thought. I turned to see the machine again. The machine that would make me a soldier greater than any marine; a Spartan, bred for combat.

Ashley, the first girl I ever had feelings for; killed several men to keep me safe. I got us out; me, her, and our families; by piloting a pelican at the age of fourteen. Or was I thirteen? Fourteen. It was my birthday when I first killed a man. It was my birthday when I last saw my teacher, my protector, my rival, my first crush. It was my fourteenth birthday when I last saw the girl I always thought I'd end up marrying back when I didn't think about war or bombs or a race of aliens that have guns that can burn through Kevlar.

Now it is my twenty-sixth birthday when I saw her again, my childhood friend, my sparring partner, my one true love. The face that would be in my last thoughts, the girl I wish I could have spent my life with, the name that would be the last words I would speak as a normal human being.

"Ashley Trevv."