She turned around, her eyes lingering on her work for a few more moments before finally turning to face the person standing in her doorway. He was tall, rugged. Pretty good looking if she hadn't already been married. She thought Kyle looked better than any of these monkeys that ran around the base. In all honesty, she didn't want to talk to him, since she was right in the middle of some insanely important research. There was some things that cracking cracking a book open would solve in this world. One of them just so happened to be the pronunciation of a rather difficult Sanghelli word that she was on the cusp of understanding.
"Yes, what is it?" She asked sharply, her voice cracking like ice across a frozen winter landscape. The private winced, like he had been physically struck before entering her office to hand her a stark white slip of paper, handsome black ink staining the crisp page.
"I'm so sorry for your loss, Lieutenant." He murmured softly before nearly running from her office. Pursing her lips in confusion, Jackson looked down at the paper, following the uniform black lines that stretched out across the paper. With each word, her lips moved in a silent prayer, as if the page she had just received would bring someone back from the dead. If it would bring her husband back from the dead.
She dropped the paper and whipped off her glasses, racing over to the door to shut it quickly. She tried so hard to contain herself behind an ice fortress and now...now her guard had left his post to join his own mortal coil.
Kyle was dead.
Tears stained the page while her nose ran but she chose not to wipe it. Instead, she merely inhaled loudly and rubbed her eyes, trying to read the rest of the page. The rest paled in comparison to the original six sentences. Killed in the line of duty while out on a patrol...a pack of Elites...what you would expect from the death of an enlisted. Sargent Jackson would receive full penance for his demise and it reassured her that he felt no pain in his passing. Bullshit. The Covenant was the infamous for supplying long, painful deaths to Marines they encountered.
Jackson closed her eyes, head buzzing, trying to figure out what she should feel. Anger? Sorrow? Shock? Oh yes, there was definitely shock there. The only real anger she felt was towards her commanding officer that he used his lackey, probably a private, to deliver the news of Kyle's death.
She brushed the paper aside and opened her eyes, interlacing her fingers to think for a moment. She wondered if they were able to the find his body. She knew his family would like to give him a proper burial. Personally, Jackson was a big fan of cremation but they would have to talk about it...that was if they could find the remains.
Suddenly, the door burst open and Emmaline's eyes snapped up, her heart almost stopping. There, in front of her was her husband, covered in mud, his head lolling to the side with lacerations all up and down his neck. He pointed an accusing finger at him, his slack expression changing into one of anger.
"You...did this to me..." He groaned, coming at her. The door slammed behind him and Jackson jumped up to try and escape his grip. However, she couldn't move as he approached her, fingers itching to wrap around her larynx.
"No, please Kyle! It wasn't me!" She cried as her late husband stumbled closer, Army boots thudding against the polished floor of her office, hollow and empty like promises on a wedding day.
His cold, bloated digits wrapped around her neck, the life was leaving her body...
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Emmaline Jackson sat up, drenched in a cold sweat, putting her hand up to her throat in terror. Thankfully, no bruised throat to speak of which made her take a deep breath. Just another nightmare, she realized. The doctor told her that it was normal but she liked to challenge normal. She was good at that.
Sliding her body out of bed, she shivered, realizing just how cold her apartment really was. Who the hell had turned down the heater?!
"Tom, heater please." She commanded, her usually dark, smooth voice froggy with sleep. Yawning, she grabbed a sweatshirt and shoved it on, stumbling from a neatly sleek bedroom to an even sleeker living room. The blinds were slightly open and Emmaline yawned again, waving them open. It was cloudy, just like any other day in New London, the streets below already bustling with early morning commuters. It was her sort of morning. The sort of morning that didn't mean she was going to have to fight for her life. She shivered, trying to put the memory from her mind.
Flicking hazel eyes to the coffee mug on the low sitting table in the middle of the room, she wondered just how lazy she was feeling and whether or not a cup of coffee left overnight would be worth an extra 5 minutes in bed.
Deciding since she had kicked the heater on, she would actually put on a pot of new coffee and go get ready for the day. She dumped out the coffee in the mug and walked back into the bedroom, shedding shorts and her sweatshirt. Thankfully, most of the day she would wear a lab coat but she enjoyed looking feminine and chose a charcoal grey pencil skirt and pastel pink tank top with a blazer before pulling her hair back into a French Twist, a favorite of Emmaline's.
"Tom! Turn off the fucking heat!" She snapped, realizing her stupid unit hadn't been programmed to keep the temperature at a normal setting. The coffee machine gurgled in the kitchen and Emmaline padded out to grab a new mug. Inhaling the aroma, she instantly felt herself perk up from ultimate bitch to ice queen. When she had been in the service, she had been the butt end of a never ending joke about how she had been drafted to be a Spartan but was kicked out for being too mean. Of course, there had been more to the joke but Emmaline didn't bother listening to their petty words and snide comments.
Sipping her coffee, she finished putting on her makeup and grabbed her favorite Mary Janes, shoving them on her feet. God, she looked frumpy. However, time didn't permit her to change so she grabbed her work satchel and opened the door to another day in the world.
If only that day had been so normal.
The company that Emmaline worked for, Janus Industries liked to consider itself an industry unlike any other in. They worked in tandem with the military, giving jobs to the veterans that survived the Covenant wars. Emmaline's department ran through ancient findings and documentation, trying to decipher whatever they could from ancient words and written letters. If anyone knew about the power of words, it would be Emmaline who had spent much of her life, nearly 10 years, studying Forerunner documentation. And now, here she was again, walking through the gilded halls of a titan of industry. Poetically tragic that so many unsung songs and misunderstood epics came here to die.
"Hey Em." A tall Asian woman greeted, falling into stride with the shorter woman. Emmaline flicked her eyes up to meet those of her companion, her best friend and confidant, Cameron Yu.
In all honesty, nobody could really know the horrors that Emmaline faced during her time in the Covenant wars but fortunately Cameron was the closest thing she would ever get to seeing a psychiatrist. They had tried to get her to go after the war ended but in all honesty, Em hadn't want some idiot in a white coat to sit there and mumble while she spilled her secrets. There was a reason that there was a wall of ice that surrounded her. Cameron was her best friend and confidant, or as close to a confidant as she was ever going to have.
"So, are we going out for drinks tonight?" Cameron inquired, carefully stepping on broken glass. She knew that Emmaline didn't usually go out but that didn't means things couldn't change. The only other time Cameron had managed to get Emmaline out for drinks was when she had been seeing some guy named Alex from some department that Cameron had never even heard of. He had come along with them and made a total ass out of himself. Enough so that Emmaline dumped him right there and then. Not like Cameron could see her best friend in a relationship with someone who wasn't calm, cool and collected but she knew that if anyone was going to bring Emmaline out her shell, it would be someone who understood her and was passionate about cracking her wall.
"Nah, I'm good. You go on without me. How is Li doing, by the way?" Emmaline asked, putting her hand down on the warm, somewhat squishy pad that read her handprint. The scanner took a few minutes longer than usual before finally spitting back that there had been an error in reading her prints, "Oh you have got to be kidding me!"
"Ah, Dr. Jackson. I should have known it was going to be you," An AI popped up next to her and she winced slightly, "Reading too many books again? You know what the old pages do to one's fingerprints."
"You know I hate getting chastised by you, Archie." She chided with a small smile. Em didn't really smile but Cameron knew that they shared a connection that hardly anyone else in the entire building shared with the systems AI. After a few moments, he nodded her through, Cameron scanning her own hand. She was instantly recognized.
"Didn't you get that book pad for your birthday?" Cameron asked as the two walked across the handsome white limestone lobby, a fountain gurgling in the middle of the room.
"Yeah…but it's just not the same. I love my books." Em shrugged, glancing up at the glass floor, busy with people above them, "They're like my children. My 10,000 children."
Cameron laughed and then shrugged, "Whatever you say, Em. Also, to answer your question, Li's doing well. He's in Japan right now on business. Something to do with his family, I don't really ask questions." Li was Cameron's, a quiet yet intense man who loved his wife more than anything in the world.
"That's…good? I'm not sure how you would describe that," Emmaline admitted as the two of them waited for an elevator. The door pinged open, men and women in clothes ranging from business suits to white lab coats entering and exiting the car.
"I would describe it as…business," Cameron finally said as the two joined in with the muted silence that descended over the elevator. Finally, the buzzer pinged pleasantly and a man's voice announced the floor they were on.
"Twenty Second Floor, Languages and Linguistics; head consultants, Dr. Richard Vaughn and Dr. Emmaline Jackson. Please watch your step while exiting the elevator."
"I guess that's me," Emmaline said with a shrug, "I'll talk to you when I get off work today. I have a feeling it's going to be a long one."
"Okay. I'll talk to you soon! We really should…" The elevator closed before Cameron could finish her thoughts. She worked up in neuro sciences, a couple floors from Emmaline. The coolness of the hallway enveloped her and her footsteps were muted on the plain gray carpet. They weren't a very flashy division but they worked their own interests into that of the other departments. The offices were humble and small and most were empty but she didn't mind. Emmaline reveled in the peace and quiet her workspace had to offer her.
She stopped outside the door marked "Emmaline Jackson, Forerunner Linguistics and Alien Languages" and unlocked it, turning to find an older gentleman walking towards her, two cups of coffee in hand. Her lips turned into a smile as Dr. Richard Vaughn offered her one of the cups. He was another person that could make Emmaline Jackson, Professional Scowler, as he liked to call her, smile.
"Ah thank you, Dr. Vaughn." She murmured, taking the cup of Joe in her left hand, still unlocking the door with her right, "You are my hero."
He laughed, the crow's feet at his eyes wrinkling. He was older, probably in his late 40's but still quite handsome with salt and pepper hair and a beard of the same. He wore glasses and was always smiling, telling Emmaline that she should learn by example.
"Your hero, eh? I didn't realize that merely bringing you a cup of weak-ass coffee would constitute me as your hero," He said with a laugh, "Director Lambert put out another one of her employee review things. Trying to cut down on departments again. I'm almost sure that we're going to be one of the divisions they're going to be looking at this time."
"Unfortunately, I think you're being too optimistic," Emmaline responded bitterly, "We're probably going to be the department going to the chopping block."
He shrugged and followed her into her office, sitting down on the small leather couch across from her desk, "You're probably right. We'll probably get sucked up into one of the culture departments or something."
"At least their offices are bigger," Emmaline chided, logging into her work station, "Fuck!"
Vaughn sat up with her obscure interjection, "What's wrong?"
"Director Lambert has me set up in a meeting today at 1500. Fuck, I wonder what I did this time." Emmaline said with a snort.
"I don't even remember the last time I talked face to face with Director Lambert," Vaughn noted, taking a sip of his coffee while wincing, "I think it was when I was promoted to the head of this department."
"I think you may have spoken to her at this year's company Christmas party, Richard."
"Oh did I?! How come I don't remember it."
"I think you were drunk. You said she was really pretty and that she would look great on the cover of a magazine. I think she took it as a compliment, but don't quote me. That may be why you're the head of this place instead of in culture studies." Emmaline teased, scrolling through the rest of her messages.
"There's that sense of humor!" Vaughn cried out, making Emmaline jump slightly.
"Yeah right. My sense of humor ran away and eloped with my sense of style." She rolled her eyes and reached around her to grab her lab coat, "How's the deciphering going on the Forerunner tablet?"
"They're not," Vaughn admitted, "I sent Jones and Beckett in this morning to see if they could work anything else out with the new key you cooked up but it's nothing like they've ever seen. If you wouldn't mind going and checking it out, I would be super grateful."
"No problem! I've got some last minute Sanghelli translations I need to finish up in here for the treaty that they asked us to scribe but I'll be in in about…an hour or so."
"Sounds good. Looking forward to seeing if you can crack any mysteries that our ancestors left behind." Vaughn did his mystical wavy arm thing and Emmaline arched an eyebrow.
"Seriously?" She asked with a scoff, hardly believing her superior's strange antics.
"Oh yeah. Seriously." He said with a little grin before departing her office. Emmaline chuckled and then began to whip up the rest of something that she was working with several Sanghelli diplomats that were hanging about. Apparently there was some unrest between an offshoot of the Covenant and to quell any rebellions, they ask treaty that would hopefully bring resolution to any remaining conflicts that still existed. Emmaline knew that the treaty spelled out what would happen, that being the binding between a human and Sanghelli with the hopes of a hybrid child. They had done the research and the statistics looked good for being able to bring forth a child naturally. The Sanghelli in question? Someone she knew rather well from their time together during the war.
-Africa, 2552, 5 years ago-
Emmaline stood at the memorial of soldiers on the African plain, tears rushing down her cheeks. She wasn't cold now. She wasn't the ice queen that her men and women expected her to be. She was a broken, unintelligible mess that wept openly. If so many others hadn't been weeping as well, eyebrows would have been raised when they saw such a strong woman crying. In her clenched fist was a picture of a youth with his arms wrapped around another woman. Both of them were smiling, warm and friendly, hazel eyes and green eyes sparkling with a passion that one seldom saw in the eyes of soldiers. They were strong alone but together, they were unstoppable.
She looked up and placed the picture right next to one of a mother with her child, beaming up at the photographer. Touching the photo of her and her husband, her breathing became short and shaky.
"I love you, Kyle." She whispered, placing her lips against the photo before moving away to allow someone else to take her place. She turned around to watch someone else crying in her place.
"You loved him, didn't you?"
She turned around, surprised to hear a deep voice speaking in English. It was accented but the accent couldn't be placed. Probably because it wasn't of this world. She looked up into the amber eyes of the Arbiter, strong against his gray-purple skin.
"I did. We were married but he died on the Ring. I couldn't stop the Flood, as much as I wish I could." Emmaline replied, wiping tears from her eyes. "I wish I could have been there for him but they took him."
"What was his name?" The Arbiter questioned, still looking down at her.
"Kyle. His name was Kyle." I responded quickly, "I'm sorry, I don't think we've been properly introduced. I'm Lieutenant Commander Jackson."
His mandibles flared slightly as if he was smiling slightly, "Thel. You may call me Thel."
She nodded, "It's a pleasure to meet the savior of our races."
"As it is a pleasure to meet the first human to master our language." He noted. She flushed under his words. Master was such an exaggeration.
"Please, I've only just now gotten a grip on it," She admitted, "I mostly study Forerunner languages, those that are dead."
"I understand," He contemplated with a nod, "There have been so many who have died in the names of the Forerunners, my brothers included."
"What do you think of them now?" She asked.
Thel looked down at her, his armor sparkling in the light, "I think they should be left where they lie, not worshiped like gods or goddesses. Why should my brothers suffer in the sake of their names?"
She smiled slightly, "I guess the same could be said about the Crusades. So many atrocities done in the name of gods and monsters."
"Indeed, Lieutenant." Thel agreed, looking back at the wall where so many were gathered to say farewell to their loved ones, "Too many that have come and gone before their time."
She glanced up at him and found herself having an epiphany. Some of the Covenant didn't want this war. They were good, honest creatures who wanted nothing to do with it. In a way, they were similar to humans, yet at the same time, so, so different.
Thel began to speak in Sanghelli and it took me a moment to realize that he was speaking an old verse from an ancient tome that Emmaline herself even knew.
"An old Irish blessing? I never knew Sanghellis were sentimental." She said with a little laugh.
"I heard this blessing when I came to your world for the first time," He explained, "And I carry it now for my brothers who will not be returning to their families."
She nodded, the poem mashing up between the Sanghelli language and English in her head.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there... I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry—
I am not there... I did not die..."
She finished the treaty in about two hours, looking down on my finished work. It was strongly worded but confidant that we would be able to bring the rebellion groups to their knees. Emmaline snorted at the idea of peace. It was a nice notion but a notion nonetheless. Poor Thel, being roped into an arrange marriage…She felt bad for him, having to go through with something like this but in all honesty, she was just a little bit relieved it wouldn't be her going through with it. She sent it up the chain to Director Lambert's desk and then stood, her back popping loudly.
"I'm getting too old for this…" She grunted, walking from her office, the door shutting behind her. Down the hall, the labs were aglow while four figures sat at a table, drinking coffee and laughing. Dr. Vaughn sat with his feet kicked up smiling up at the pretty intern while Jones, fresh out of college guffawed while slapping Beckett on the shoulder. I opened the door and instantly, all four sobered up.
"What the hell is going on in here?!" She demanded, walking in and closing the door behind her, "Has anything gotten done today?"
"No, Dr. Jackson," Jones muttered softly, turning his head down, "We were waiting for you to get down with your translations."
"Well, "I'm done now so no need to worry about that now do we?" Emmaline asked with an arch of her eyebrow, "Alright, back to work you slackers!"
"Pfft, slave driver!" Richard teased with a grin. Emmaline rolled her eyes and grabbed her gloves, rolling up the sleeves of her coat.
"Don't encourage them, Vaughn."
They worked as a unit for about two hours until Emmaline's buzzer went off, indicating it was time for her meeting.
"Look, I'll be back down later but if I don't see some actual work getting done, I'm going to make you all stay here tomorrow."
"Aww, Dr. Jackson, it's Friday today! Can't we go home early like everyone else?" Beckett asked, comparing some glyphs on her key to some on the tablet.
"No, Dr. Beckett. You're going to stay here until you decipher at least a word. Come on, we've almost got a sentence done today!" She pointed out, sticking her buzzer back in her pocket, "I'll see you all soon."
"Don't get fired!" Jones teased as Emmaline walked out of the lab and down the hall to the elevator, shedding her lab coat. She dropped it on a table and straightened out her sweater, wishing she had worn something different this morning. Once the elevator had reached a certain floor, it stopped and waited for her to say a command. Nobody got passed this point without having reason to.
"Name?" The elevator inquired.
"Dr. Emmaline Jackson. I have an appointment with Director Lambert."
"Standby, please." It said pleasantly. After a moment, a green light appeared at the top of the elevator and it began to ascend again. Finally, with a smooth stop, the doors opened with a pleasant PING.
"92nd floor, Director Lambert's Offices. Please watch your step while exiting." The door closed behind me and I was left standing in a posh lobby that made me feel like I was wasting money just standing there. The floor was glass, the underside being filled with live koi that drifted about lazily.
"Dr. Jackson?" I looked up to see a younger man sitting behind a mahogany desk smiling at me, "I assumed that was you. Director Lambert will see you in her office now." He nodded to a set of doors and I nodded in thanks. "Director Lambert, Dr. Emmaline Jackson is here to see you."
"Good, send her in." The voice on the other end responded as the double doors opened into a luxurious conference room, complete with a long table that matched the secretary's desk. Emmaline strolled in and looked into the eyes of her employer. They were kind but stern, like a mother's who had the best intentions but was gung ho on tough love.
"Ah, Dr. Jackson! It's a pleasure to see you again!" She beamed and Emmaline's eyes flicked to several other people in the room. Some were human, wearing UNSC uniforms, their ranks gleaming on their shoulders. Others were…not quite human, but elites who sat in full battle armor, looking more out of place than an alligator at a tea party.
"It's a pleasure to see you as well, Director." She admitted, furrowing her brow, "Might I be curious to know what exactly you brought me here for?"
One of the men in uniform stood up. He was tall, wearing the white UNSC dress outfit with the 2 stars of a Rear Admiral, "Dr. Jackson, my name is Admiral Remy. We know you were the one who was writing the peace treaty between the Sanghelli people and humans."
"That I was," She stated calmly, "What is your point, Admiral?"
"My point is that we are gathering a group of men and women who have been in close contact with the treaty or the Covenant in one way or another. We also know of your connection between the Arbiter. These people, along with several high representing Sanghelli officials will be conducting a panel for a pool of candidates who have put their names in to be the one that is chosen to be the woman of the treaty."
"So what does that mean for me and my service? I told the UNSC when the war was over, I was done. My service is done, Admiral. I don't want to serve any longer."
"I'm afraid you do not have a choice, Dr. Jackson," An Elite spoke up, standing up to watch me with his cold amber eyes, "Thel Vadam has asked personally that you sit in on these interviews."
She realized that he had switched to Sanghelli and her lips fumbled to try and get the words just right. She was excellent at reading Sanghelli and listening to it but speaking it was another matter entirely.
"I respect The Arbiter's wishes, but I do not wish to return back to watch him take on a human bride." Emmaline admitted, looking back at the Director, "I'm not the right person for this job."
"Of course you are! You are literally the author of peace. Who better to be a deciding member of this council?!" Another woman spoke up, "We need you, Lieutenant."
She scoffed, "Lieutenant?! I haven't gone by that name in quite some time, Commander." She noted the woman's collar devices before moving on, "Surely there has to be someone else better fitted for this!"
"There is nobody!" The Elite snapped, "We need you! Thel needs you!"
I pursed my lips and finally nodded, "Fine. I accept."
The tension in the room seemed to dissipate when I said this, the members of the room breathing a sigh of relief, "What do you want me to do?"
"Well Doctor," Admiral Remy said with a little grin, "First of all, with this assignment, your rank and your rate have all been passed back to you. Welcome back to the UNSC, Lieutenant Jackson. It's going to be good to have you back."
Welcome back, one and all to one of my all time favorite stories to write in my history of writing. After playing and replaying the Halo games, I decided that this story like several of my other ones, needed to be updated. It's by far the most popular thing I've ever written and I've been meaning to rewrite it for awhile. While the story idea remains the same, many key factors have changed within the writing, characters and plot ideas.
I want to thank everyone who was a HUGE part of LMYH before. I am so glad that you liked the story beforehand. I hope I don't disappoint now!
With love and regards,
Halo (c) 343 Industries
Emmaline Jackson, OCs (c) The Queen of Asgard
In honor of my first story, I didn't get rid of the Irish Blessing that she spoke in the first story but instead gave it to Thel to say. This will actually tie more into the story than it did in the first one. I apologize for any canon errors. Again, I have only played the games and haven't kept the chicken scratch writing I once had full of Wikia notes.