A/N: What bothers me? Well, anonymous reviewers who don't seem to pick up on a lot of clues and obvious hints I place. So let's begin.

I never really do a large author's note and message section, but after the last chapter and some uncertainties that have been voiced. I felt that a long address was needed to make sure that we're all on the same page.

Well, the reviews for the last chapter, for the most part, I expected the "criticisms" I have received. Some were said that my portrayal of John was off as he was too scarred, even for killing kids. Others believed that it was too extreme.

Dear arandomrevier

Thank you for the input. First off, killing kids is different to killing men who want to rip you apart. John was slightly uncomfortable about killing the ODSTs, but mentally compartmentalised and didn't give it another thought. (Refer to end of chapter in Halo Fall of Reach).

Secondly, I made it clear that the Chief was reassigned to do wetwork with ONI. You've still got to do interrogations in the field. Interrogations are when you need them to talk fast, it gets messy pretty quickly. No one ever got info out of the enemy just by sitting them down and talking to them. To loosen someone's tongue, you need force it out of them. ("Truth Serum" is a myth, it makes people more susceptible, but to a trained person, it does nothing. In any case, if an interrogator is injecting the subject with chemicals, they're most likely compounds which cause extreme pain).

Next, when a person merges into a social environment, they tend to gain something out of it, like new insights. Having worked undercover with ONI, John would've no doubt, picked up some social ethics.

Also, these are Innie civvies we're talking about here. I think it's safe to say that some Innie settlements do become rundown and the people revert into a primal state. So in that scenario, everyone becomes a threat.

Now, onto Dosh

I thought I made it blatantly clear that the Chief had to remain in persona to merge in with his social surroundings.

Ergo, the use of colloquial language.

Road Rage

TCR rounds? That's more of Freedom Guard and Harbinger's thing. Not that it's a bad thing. It's just I'd rather go with my own direction with this story.

Besides why carry TCR/TTR rounds to an unstable region? It just really doesn't make sense.

Interrogation, refer to what I said earlier. Please remember that ONI is a covert intelligence organisation. They WILL get their hands dirty, they WILL use brutality if it comes to it.

Torture techniques are mainly electrocution as it is the most painful on the subject, and far more productive. Not to mention, it won't have a heavy adverse mental effect on the interrogator. Example, what causes more psychological damage to an interrogator?
A, acid tricks on the subject/pulling finger nails/messy physical torture
Or
B, electrocution

(Btw, by Seiko, I'm assuming you're referring to "psycho" not the wristwatch brand, right?)

So, many of you will be wondering why I had the Chief kill kids and civilians, and why he has a "conscience". Well, many stories I've read that stars the Chief mainly portray him as some kind of machine, it doesn't work for me. It becomes an oxymoron, the saviour of humanity doesn't have any humanity.

Granted that he and other Spartans are calculative, but they are still human. They're not indoctrinated, just conditioned. ONI wants them to be capable of self-initiative at a high level. This in turn makes them prone to reflecting on their actions. And also, Spartans were never meant to be morale boosters or heroes, just wetwork. It's just the Human-Covenant War got so desperate that Section 2 had to reveal the existence of the Spartans.

In short, I wanted to make John more human, wanted to make him battle-weary. Killing civilians shows what kind of work ONISAD was involved in, what kind of world the Spartans were originally meant for.

For those who haven't picked up on my aim yet, this story is to push boundaries, make people think at the sacrifices others make, the tough choices they come across. This is to show the harsh nature of human behaviour.

I have no desire for this story to be a 'silver age' story. I aim for this story to be a hybrid of modernist, post-modernist and romantic (the time period and culture, not love). So of course I'm going to throw in elements that'll make people cringe, and think about the current culture.

But if you want a "bright and happy" story, then you're probably not going to find it here. This story is going to be dark and gritty, (which I see a lack of, on fanfic).

So, that's my little "rant", I hope that everything is clear. If you have any issues, please PM me or post a review via your account, so that I may talk to you in private. I'm not a big fan of drawing things out in public. But it had to be done since these reviews were anonymous.

Apologies if I've offended anyone, but it really bothers me when certain reviewers seem like they've skimmed through the chapter and missed all the important parts.

Kind Regards

Andrithir

P.S: Kurogane7, the names were purely coincidental, but then again, it could be an allusion for what's to come. MAJOR HINT!
Btw, I do love how you pick up on references that I unknowingly create. XD

XXxxXX

1300 HOURS, DECEMBER 29th, 2600 (UNSC MILITARY CALENDAR) \
RED CROSS MEDICAL CAMP, NEAR THE SOMALIA BORDER

John and Abigail were in one of the medical tents at the eastern section of the camp. The calm sea waves lapsed onto the sand, providing a calm aura to those who had little peace. The white sheets flapped as the winds glided through, cooling the sick.

The patients' health deteriorated at an alarming rate. There were no known diseases that could evolve at such a high rate. John wondered if this disease was a bioweapon and was racially orientated, a couple of local nurses and doctors had fallen ill, while the Caucasian and Asian staffs were perfectly healthy. The Spartan had seen this kind of thing in the outer-colonies during counter-insurgency operations.

So John examined the UN guards; some of them were of African descent but had moved to countries with colder climates and different eco structure. All of them were healthy. The disease had to be geographically orientated, that was the only explanation.

"Abigail," the Spartan called.

"Yeah?" she inquired, coming over.

"The disease, it's accelerating."

"Richard had mentioned something about that, last time he drove through the countryside, there were sick piling up everywhere. But are you sure it's just one disease? The patients here suffer all kinds of symptoms. It could just be the climate. It's more humid to day."

"Most likely, I'll take some blood samples and run a few tests."

"Be my guest," Abigail shrugged, "our shifts about over anyway."

The Spartan walked over to a sickly man, and spoke softly to him, before unwrapping a syringe. John gently inserted the tip into man, and extracted a few mils of blood. He then moved on to a few other patients, varying the subjects he took the samples from.

"Nice to see you've made things easier for us," Richard commented as he arrived with Doctor Grace Wilson.

"John works fast, never seen someone take out many bullets as he had in one hour," Abigail said.

"Thanks," the Spartan smiled, keeping persona.

"Well, I'll see you two later, I'm going for lunch," Chambers said, rubbing the back of her neck, "coming John?"

"Later, I'm going to look into this sample first."

The two parted their separate ways. Inside the lab, John looked carefully examined the blood samples. Eventually he made a startling discovery that the each sample contained a viral strain similar to the X-gene. The changes appeared to be tailored, meaning that someone had modified the mutant gene to become a virus.

Abigail then entered, "what do we have? Anything interesting?"

"Take a look," John gestured to the projector, displaying his findings.

"You're going to have to break it down for me, I didn't study genetics at Uni," Chambers said.

John brought up diagrams of the mutant strain, and compared it to the current one he found within the patients. "The one on the left is the existing mutant trait. The one on the right is what I've found in the patients."

"My god," Abigail whispered, "this means we're dealing with a time-bomb."

"Yes," John nodded, "but this seems to affect subjects geographically. Not racially. If this is anything like the original, it will mutate. Our current treatment is halting the process."

"But then we have those who are infected, but aren't at the camps."

"Yes, it could be a cause for all the violence. Many of the militia are just kids who don't know any better."

"We've got to warn the staff."

"Notify the UN patrols."

Chambers complied, and quickly left the prefab shelter. She was about to enter her building when an invisible force tossed her through the air. She landed on the dirt with a soft thud as pain washed over her body. Shattered glass and debris rained all around her. Screams echoed through the air, followed by thunderous roars. She could barely register what was going on. Abigail coughed as she opened her eyes and looked skyward. Spera was looking down on her; he was wearing his body armour, and had apparently got her a set too.

"Abigail, hold still," he said calmly, "you may have a concussion."

Chambers shifted uncontrollably, everything hurt. "What's going on?" she muttered.

"Camps under attack," John answered, competing with machine gun chatter. He carefully picked up the injured doctor, and gently placed her into the passenger seat of his car. "We've got to get out of here."

Recent events were more than mere coincidence. But right now, there was too much going on for John to analyse the situation. He needed to focus on getting the staffs to safety. Inhuman howls filled the air, causing John to turn around; his eyes bulged in horror as he saw dozens of disfigured beings tear through the camp with shocking speed.

"Richard, Grace!" the Spartan bellowed, "Get into the car now!"

The two doctors were sprinting out of the tent as a horrific parody ripped through the patients, turning them into bloody shreds. Richard and Grace quickly entered the Knight and threw on the seatbelts.

"What about the others?" Richard asked, concerned for the safety of his colleagues.

"Either dead, or with the guards," John said grimly.

He checked his tacpad to see if he had uploaded his findings, and exhaled with satisfaction when he saw that all the files were there. Drawing his sidearm, he moved round to the driver seat, opened the door, and got in.

The engine roared to life, as he slammed his foot down on the pedal. In a few short minutes, the entire camp had been turned into a warzone. Camps and buildings were set alight. Militia and disfigured beings fought each other.

Grace and Abigail screamed in shock as a child landed on the front bonnet, John remembered that child. He was one of the militiamen. His shredded clothes still had some colour. But his whole body just looked demonic, claws, fins and a tail.

"Holy shit!" Richard yelled as the child slashed furiously at the windshield.

John quickly slammed on the brakes, flinging the child forward. The Knight kicked up dirt as it roared around the child and weaved through the carnage. It was absolute chaos. Rounds pinged and crashed across the vehicles armour.

"This way is too the highway, John," Grace said, "it's too dangerous."

"Well the countryside isn't any safer, not with these guys running around," John rebutted, "at least we'll have some form of cover."

"If the UN and Kenyan forces haven't been overwhelmed," Richard added.

John fired a few rounds out of the window to discourage any militia from chasing them. But he was sure that they would be concentrating their efforts on the mutants, rather than a lone SUV.

"The hell is going on?" Richard pondered, "The militia seem to be attacking anyone on sight."

"Well find out soon enough," John said, guiding the Knight away from the stricken camp.

XXxxXX

A/N: Well, this has been a short chapter, mainly to address certain issues, and provide some justification. (More will come, once I've done my finals).