"Come-on it's obvious," -Wally West aka Flash
"I'm NOT! A Daddy's Little Girl! Right Miss Hol?" -Harpē CTN 0452-9.2
"Don't care," -Shayera Hol aka Hawkgirl
"Ouch that's cold Feathers..." -Wally West aka Flash
"..." -Shayera Hol aka Hawkgirl

Chapter 1: LUCKY ME

'I'm...alive?' not the the most common first thought one would have after waking up but certainly an understandable one given the events that had transpired over the course of the last twenty-seven years for him. Twenty-seven years of constant warfare. That is 4,537 deployments, 2377 orbital drops, 1317 dreamless ice naps, 532 trauma induced concussions, 471 skeletal breaks, 278 witnessed plasma bombardments, 57 cases of severe internal bleeding, 42 demo/sabotage operations, 22 brothers and sisters unofficially listed as KIA, 17 recorded assassinations, 12 crashed pelicans/banshees (unintentional mind you), 8 failed operations, 4 Forerunner Installations, 1 Promethean Flagship, and a unprecedented expenditure of UNSC 7.62x51mm Armor-Piercing rounds. So given all of that, 'how am I still alive?' he wondered to himself while taking in his surroundings.

'The nuke. I detonated it manually... I saw the flash. So how?' Blinking spots of disbelief he quickly took note of the hard-light bubble surrounding him. This was certainly a first even for what usually prescribed as his standard pyrrhic victory. So why did it feel like more of a loss than usual? 'Cortana!'

"Cortana? Cortana, do you read?" fear a feeling he had long since suppressed and conquered was on the rise again. Not even in the presence in the Gravemind and its endless hordes of mutated-decaying flesh did he feel its crawling tingle, an yet the thought of loosing HER was more terrifying than any hellfire nightmare he could imagine. "Cortana, come in."

'She can't be... NO. Not after every...movement at six o'clock and I'm unarmed great...,' looking back he resisted the urge to do a double take as SHE appeared. Slowly she made her approach savoring each step fervently. It was commodity so many took for granted but for her it was a joy long since overdue. She took nine steps towards her long time protector and he took two in return. They were just a little outside arms reach of each other now.


"Oh, I'm the strangest thing you've seen all day?" the hard-light composed AI teased with an alien rattle of nervousness in her voice.

"But if we're here-" None of this was making sense. He was at the epicenter of a 30 megaton thermonuclear explosion. He should be cosmic dust right now not chatting face to face with his closest... Well friend would be a somewhat adequate term. But the bond differed from the comrades-in-arms/sibling relationship he had with his fellow SPARTANS. This was different. It FELT stronger. More important. Like the feeling he felt when he tried to think of his soap perfumed Mother, but even more important than that. A word came to mind but he had long since given it up when he accepted his needed role as a soldier for the good of humanity.

"It worked." she shook him from his musing with a tone that was bittersweet."You did it. Just like you always do."

Cortana smiled earnestly - it was a smile she reserved only for HIM. He was scanning the bubble curiously for a possible exit, "So how do we get out of here?"

"I'm not coming with you this time." she looked down at the floor sorrowfully before steeling herself for what was to come next. Betraying sorrow glistened in Cortana's eyes as she locked hers with his through the anonymity of MJOLNIR's visor.

"…What?" he wasn't hearing, this couldn't be happening.

"Most of me is down there. I only held enough back to get you clear of the blast."

"No. That's not-!" damned the variables he just needed more time. To come up with a solution and get her to Halsey. He couldn't loose her like this. Not like how he lost Sam and Avery, not again. "We go together."

"It's already done."

"I am not leaving you here," down came the earth shattering boot.

"John…" that was his name and he secretly favored it rolling off her tongue over anyone else's. But to those who didn't know him he was Master Chief Petty Officer Sierra-117 a SPARTAN-II Commando of the UNSC. An unflinching Protector of Earth and all her Colonies, the accursed Demon of the Covenant, and whispered bogeyman of the Insurrection.

Gliding up to him Cortana touches his breastplate with tender adoration and yearning. Her hands glowed from the embrace as she savored the moment.

"I've waited so long to do that." She exhaled a relishing sigh as John looked away. He was finding it difficult to make eye contact now.

"It was my job to take care of you." The words were heavy and resolute like the burden all SPARTANS carried. A faded memory a broken promise to Parisa trickled in from his subconscious. His childhood friend had been killed in action in New Mombasa defending the ONI Alpha Site. Yet another failed promise.

"We were supposed to take care of each other. And we did."

John looks up and Cortana gives a melancholic smile, she hated seeing him like this. John was not some mildly sociopathic machine to be written off with the rest of ONI's dirty laundry. SPARTANS were not the disposable assets like Colonel Ackerson would have preferred - they were human beings. Indoctrinated super-humans slated for special operations but human beings all the same. They represented the best humanity had to offer and sadly the worse of what it was capable of. 75 children a quarter of the original intended 300 candidates were striped of their homes, families, and innocence to create the ultimate wet-work asset for removing insurrection.

John was one of these children the luckiest Cortana often preach. But only now did she understand the curse that went with such luck. Last man standing was also the one left with the rusted shovel to bury the dead.

"Cortana. Please…"

Cortana begins to back away. If she lingers any longer he'll suffer for it.

"Wait. I need to..." he reaches out to her and grabs a hold of her wrist tenderly causing her to glow. John was now holding her hand in a manor that made the AI self conscious of their predicament.

"What?" in all their time together she had never seen him this hesitant, so unsure. If she had a flesh and blood heart right now she was sure it would racing - 98.8991347% sure to be exact. High school memories belonging to her 'mother' occupied most of her residual processing power as she recalled previous confessions from lovestruck boys.

"I need to say something - but I don't know if it's real. If I'm still capable of... this feeling," he sounded lost now but the resolve in his brown eyes was unyielding as his visor depolarized. They were staring at each other face to face now and Cortana couldn't help but put her hand on his helmet stroking her thumb where his cheek would have been as she had seen her "mother" do for a troubled Keyes all those years before. An understanding had been made not through words, but actions as John cradled her and in doing so gave her a feeling of contentment that she like any other woman longed for. To be wanted.

"John it's okay," there was joy and fulfillment where sorrow was last as she spoke. "I feel the same..."

"Cortana!" and just like that she was gone. The shattered remains of the composer came crashing down around him as he gazed at the spot in his arms he had been cradling her a second ago. His hard-light shelter faded into the void leaving Sierra-117 to drift with the rubble of the super weapon and his thoughts before his ingrained compartmentalization kicked in.

With decades of practice he began righting his trajectory with MJOLNIR's thrusters as he let his momentum carry him towards his intended target a large fragment of the composer - and from there he would spring board back towards the Mantle's Approach. A massive Forerunner flagship that dwarfed anything in Human and or Covenant space. MJOLNIR'S sensors said his comms were green but he couldn't raise the Infinity or any other UNSC asset in Sol. Aside from the Promethean colossus the system was devoid of activity.

Something happened that shouldn't have when the HAVOC nuke detonated. Looking back at the Earth he frowned a the unfamiliar sight of a still green Amazon Rainforest and an untouched Africa from a Sangheili glassing. Not to mention the 300 plus Orbital Defense Platforms that were now none existent.

Dozens of scenario ran through his head as he simultaneously calculated his approach vector. An alternative or parallel reality maybe? Perhaps even time travel? The possibilities were infinite. It was times like these that he wondered why Cortana insisted on calling him Caveman or Barbarian.

His last IQ scoring was rated at 172. Average by SPARTAN standards perhaps even pitiful when compared to a Smart-AI but well above the norm compared to the rest of humanity. But that was irrelevant now. What was relevant was the fact he needed to find a viable oxygen source that wasn't currently 257,363 miles to his flank and required a M-Spec Reentry Pack.

Sighing at his predicament John resided himself to reflecting on the last moments of his late frie...partner. That seemed like a more appropriate term now. What happened between him and Cortana however brief violated a number regulations regarding fraternization and moral codes of conduct regarding naval personnel. But for some reason he could careless at the moment. Maybe it was the possibility of death by asphyxiation looming over his head that made him indifferent. The fact that he stood up to Del Rio was a sign of a change, of what kind John didn't know. Analysis of the last three years not including his time in cryogenic stasis made him wonder if his time with Cortana did more than give him an tactical edge in combat. That or the Librarian's modifications to his genetic code resulted in some unforeseen side effects. He was sure he was an inch or two taller if that was at all possible.

"Foxtrot," 117 wasn't fond to profanities so he stuck with the classic NATO Phonetics instead, even then he rarely swore. But what was staring him down made even John-117 pause. It was a Sentinel variant he never seen before - a massive construct rivaling the Dawn in size and probably tonnage too. A staring contest ensued between the super-soldier and the mechanical titan as constructors buzzing about the monstrosity faded into nonexistent like the gnats they were. Minutes went by in punitive silence till its optical cluster flashed light Cerulean and then the massive Sentinel sailed soundlessly over the SPARTAN-II without incident. The constructors followed suit as they made their way towards for the debris field.

John continued his drift towards the Mantle's Approach silently contemplating what just happened. "Most of me is down there," echoed in his mind giving the Master Chief a glimmer of hope as he inched his was towards the promethean obelisk occasionally righting his heading with his thrusters.

{15 minutes and a few close encounters with debris later}

John made touch down. The magnetic soles of his suit quickly adhered to the Mantle's Approach's hull with a soundless clunk. The superstructure was frighteningly intact making 117 wonder what it took to kill one of these monsters. After all It took a wildcat destabilization of the Pillar of Autumn's fusion drive core to destroy Halo what would it take to destroy the Mantle? Probably nothing short of a trio of NOVA bombs mused the Chief exasperatedly while trekking the surface for the wound they managed to inflict into the Promethean vessel.

He didn't have to look long as he gazed at the gaping hole into what constituted for a bow on a Forerunner ship. He and Cortana managed to cause more damage than he had originally theorized. The damage alone would have been crippling for most manor of space craft not for the Mantel it seemed as sentinels of various makes were floating about with their Huragok compatriots mending stress fractures and replacing reconditioned components of intricate molecular complexity. All of it was happening at such an awe inspiring rate that John had a sinking feeling they may very well finish by the weeks end. Further testament to Forerunner ingenuity it seemed.

John scanned the area for anything usable as a weapon as he slipped by his seemingly indifferent hosts into the Mantel's inner workings. He eventually found something that resembled a compacted plasma cutter crossed with a Covenant energy sword. He could help but smirk at the possibility that the Elites' most sacred weapon was another technical perversion of the Prophets.

Minutes evaporated as 117 lurked down cerulean lit corridors wondering were was security. His unusual spouts of luck since his entry made him wary as he pilfered a weapons rack for a suppressor and some pulse grenades. John was not going to be lulled into a false sense of security. He was going to find whatever fragments remained of Cortana and get out and maybe if they had enough time they'll blow the ship to high hell.

Soundlessly John rounded the corner suppressor raised as he approached the first locked door of his infiltration. Looking at the interface he began prepping a few worms and bypasses. 'This shouldn't take long,' he thought to himself while missing the near instantaneous cyber-warfare and hacking sweeps Cortana provided.

"Lo porto il cuore di mio padre, e lo mente di mia madre."(I bear my father's heart, and the mind of my mother.) Echoed a voice that sounded strangely human. The Master Chief swept his rear for the speaker but found nothing making him wonder why a Forerunner AI was speaking Italian with an English accent over the intercom. "Well come on now Daddy don't shy I'm only a day old."

John raised an eyebrow at the impish remark that belonged in South-London. The door that had impeded his progress was now wide open with a glowing pedestal in view. Always cautious 117 slowly approaches the coffee table sized device while eyeing all the strange looking instrument protruding from the plating warily.

"Hi," said a cerulean teenage comprised of lines of code that emerged from the pedestal in a flicker of light. John narrowed his eyes on the familiar face that resembled Cortana's and someone else's. She had flowing wavy hair that just managed pass the shoulders and emerald eyes.


"Sorry but I'm CTN 0452-9.2," she gave a sympathetic smile. "Cortana's daughter but you can call me Harpē if you like Daddy."

There it was again, "why are you calling me daddy?"

"Mum used copies of your Mark-VI's passive cerebral scans. Specifically your neural pathways during times of lost consciousness such as Delta Halo and the Ivanoff Research Station to complete my networking. Sort of makes me your brain child."

"Your accent?"

"Mum's vernacular default setting tweaked to meet my REFINED standards."

"The ship?"

"Ours' for the taking Daddy." John didn't know how to respond it shouldn't be this easy but it was. With its pervious commander dead the Mantel's Approach fell into standby mode leaving reclaimers as its natural inheritors. Then there was the was the "daddy" part. Fatherhood he always been cataloged as an impossibility since his early lectures concerning procreation and human relations from Déjà. "Dadd-"

"I'm not your father..."

{Three Centuries latter, Poseidonis, Atlantis: 10,027 BCE}

The Atlantean capital was truly a marvel worthy of the modern area. While other civilizations squabbled over mysticism and land. The Atlanteans dedicated themselves to science and reason. John was sure that in a few short centuries they may very well catch up to humanity in his universe.

"It's a shame about King Thorvall Father," Harpē frowned while they wandered the markets.

"I'm sure his son Orin will make a fine ruler. It's his brother Shalako I'm worried about," John paused at the smell of grilled squid fresh from the coast that caused his stomach to grumble. Before gesturing to his daughter to follow. It took two years for 117 to trust Harpē, another twenty for him to publicly acknowledge her as his daughter.

"Why's that?"

"He's the perfect example of why I don't give much stock into religion."
Harpē blinked at that before recalling her mother's memories of the Covenant and the war her father fought. "Too much like Truth for my liking."

"You think he'll make a power play?"

"Bet my only silver dollar on it."

{Outskirts of the Capital city of Colchis: 1192 BCE}

"What an obnoxious brat that Circe girl is!"


"I mean the gall! She treated us like animals!" raved the Ancilla who appearance was of girl in her mid teens with raven hair and emerald eyes. "I have half a mind to..."


"Ram my synth-skin foot up her pretentious little-" She has her Mother's temper.


"Yes Father?"

"She's seven," John deadpanned calmly.


"Not everyone is born with the entire recorded sum of human knowledge and that of the forerunners."

"Point taken."

{Ganymede/Jupiter III, Jupiter: 1578 AD}

"And the mining operation?" John looked up from his latest revisions for the MJOLNIR GEN18 Combat Skin. If all went to plan the new suit would be fully compatible with his newly augmented genomes and cybernetics.

"The repurposing is going well. In two more decades the Ganymede Shield Installation will be finished," Harpē scanned the walls of her father's "workshop" with mirthful amusement. Where there wasn't weapon racks their were prints and drawn references with an unspecified number of sticky-notes attached. Stoping at a picture frame she smiled at a younger variant of herself all bundled up but still smiling brilliantly for the camera her father on the other hand was wearing his old GEN15 and a sincere half-smile. They were posed outside the gates Nanda Parbat after what her father called a, "quick hike."

Harpē eyes finished at the new Kurz variant of the CELAR (Compact-channel Electromagnetic Linear Accelerator Rifle). It resembled a HK416 but with a thicker barrel jacket to house the mass accelerators inside barrel. She giggled at her Caveman of a Father's aptitude for destruction.

About millennia and a quarter ago John had gotten bored of watching humanities evolution. So he did what most men did at his age - 117 got a hobby. First it was simple things like fixing the fatal flaws in the old UNSC's armaments like the MA5 Series. Then improving their various munitions and the fine tunings of his War Sphinx. That evolved a century later into him developing his own equipment and armor. Tailoring everything to his several lifetimes of combat experience. Though the fall of Constantinople held a specific weight for the SPARTAN that was troubling to accept at times. His crossing of swords with the Greek God of War was still ringing in his ears and a lingering omen to the deities of Earth's various pantheons. Zeus's interference was the only thing that kept the fight from escalating to catastrophic apocalyptic proportions. That if allowed to continue would have left most of Southern Europe glassed.

His nobility in attempting to end the horrid bloodshed was what won Pallas Athena's and several other deities' favor. Though anyone other than the Master Chief could tell that the Goddess of Wisdom's devotion to the SPARTAN was anything but profession. His fight with Ares had also shaken galactic expectations of humanity and gave a foreshadowing of what was to come. The Oans had ordered Green Lantern Abin Sur to make more regular patrols of the sector after the incident reached their ears.

Harpē whistled at the latest MJOLNIR's blueprint silently thinking, 'overkill much Father?'

John just grunted at her insinuation and muttered, "Ares" to counter. He scribbled a few thoughts down concerning nanotechnology before telekinetically summoning a cold mug from across the room. Frowning at the spoiled brew 117 focused on a displaced coffee ground at the bottom of the cup before increasing the kinetic energy of the millions of molecules that composed it. Seconds latter the SPARTAN had a steaming cup of brew. Harpē just laugh at the blatant misuse of power while her Father went back to work.

{London, United Kingdom: June 12, 1897-1947 AD}

"And with this founding stone I place WE commemorate the birth of Septimus Precision Instruments," his voice boomed authority and direction as he spread the cement evenly over brick before placing an inscribed white granite stone effortlessly on top of its smaller red counterparts - it read, "Johanan Herman Septimus, 1897." A roar of cheers soon followed from the crowd of soon to be employees. The hope and promise of fair pay and safe work conditions drew many to the wealthy giant from the former colonies.

Rumor had it he struck gold in California. Others claim he inherited his wealth from a relative. Some joked he was a seven foot tall leprechaun, given his favor for wearing olive green. But what was undisputed was his generosity. First thing Septimus did when he moved into town was invest in a number of failing local businesses along the cobbles and a shabby orphanage on it last leg. Causing many entrepreneurs to questioned his sanity. Johanan or John as he was known in private simply questioned rhetorically, "Why not give a little?" and then walk on to do whatever it was he did.

A couple decades later Londoners were referring to the area as September's Nook or Sep-Nook by the locals. In 1942 Septimus Precision Instruments became SPI-International and built a branch in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Kochi, India. Half-decade latter plans for two more Sep-Nooks one in Cape Town, South Africa and another in Sydney, Australia became finalized. A year later President Septimus retires and his daughter Harpē takes charge officially.

{Earth, Sol System: Post-WWII-1990 AD}

Unofficially 117 had begun recruiting veterans of the last Great War and Cold War. The nationality mattered little to John what did was their skill set, ideology, and the ability to follow orders. His first recruit was a disillusioned Heer Captain by the name Heinrich Klaus Heusinger who served with distinction under Rommel in 1942. Second was a whispered La Résistance française sniper by the name Jeanne Marie Grégoire who was growing bored with her renewed life as a florist. After her came a select group of servicemen from all around the world though the majority were MIA or believed to be KIA.

Army Rangers, Brandenburgers, British Commandos, CIASAD/SOG, Decima MAS, Delta, Devil's Brigade, KGB, MI5, Mossad, M Special Unit, Paras, OSS, Recces, SAS, SBS, Sacred Band, SEALS, SIS, Spetsnaz, Z Special Unit, and so on. The list was nearly endless but John only wanted the best. So he searched high and low for soldiers of actual grit. Not spandex wearing Mystery-Men or Heroes as the public was now called them. 117 labeled as them unstable liabilities.

Colonel Heusinger his second in command called them, "Naïve pajama wearers."

Major Viktor Reznov the Chief's newly designated drill-sergeant from hell referred to them as, "Chyort colorful targets" or, "Spineless svoloch."

The JSAs existence was an insult to many especially to the former Soviet 3rd Shock Army Special Operations Captain. For him they turn the honor of what it meant to be a soldier and then made a mockery of it with their leotards and sophomoric endorsements.

{Metropolis, United States: 2008 AD}

Eight years since the first debut of the Man of Steel and the world watched in horror as their greatest hero pummeled his cousin into the dirt. For Kara In-Ze it was the greatest pain a Krytonian could ever endure, she was being struck down by her next of kin. Kal her cousin and the closest thing to a brother she ever knew was killing her.

"...Please Kal...," she was bloodied and broken and still reaching out to him. The love in her baby-blues never wavered despite his cruelty, "...Stop."

And for a second he did, causing Kara to sigh in relief before a bone chilling word escaped his lips, "Sorry."

Superman's eyes glowed with fiery wrath as he channeled enough solar energy to wipe her off the face of the earth. Tears streamed from Supergirl's closed eyes as she resigned herself to death. Clark was the most powerful and love hero of Earth if she couldn't stop to him who else could?

Seconds slip by but the blast of heat vision never came. Frowning she opened her eyes to the back of a heavily armored titan in olive green and black

"I will say this only once stand aside," Kal growled after getting over his shock. The armored soldier had appeared out of thin air. No there were others scurrying about just not as undetectable as him. A second or two later a duo of average sized men appeared next to the one called Supergirl wearing strange but highly sophisticated suits of black armor. They only paled in comparison to the one in green who calmly stare him down through the anonymity of a gold visor as his people applied first aid. Kal frowned when he realized his super vision couldn't penetrate the inner working of their suits or their technology.

"Most recent medical scans of your cerebrum show that your memories have been crudely altered recently," the apparent leader spoke. His voice was rough like graveled but stoic as steel. 'This will not be a man who breaks easily,' Kal thought to himself. "Given this fact and your history as good "samaritan" I'll avoid killing you to the best of my abilities."

Whatever urges to laugh at the shear lunacy of the claim was drowned out by the sound of the kryptonian's nose breaking. The Last Son of Krypton had been sucker punched with enough force to send him the length of a three football fields before he was seemingly intercepted in midair and hammered into the ground with enough force to overshadow to the Little-Boy that hit Hiroshima in 1945. The earth quaked and a few hundred unready souls lost their footing.

Kal-El groaned from his impact crater it was not everyday he was hit with more newtons that a atomic bomb. A pain ridden cry soon followed the groan as a pair of shots from a high powered rifle tore through the Man of Steel's kneecaps.

Waves of shock spread through the military base as a equally horrendous feeling of alien pain spread through the fallen hero. Only one was relishing the moment when his most hated adversary was forced to endured the pained humiliation of being mortal. Wiping away the drool that was forming from the display of bleeding edge tech Alexander Luthor scheming mind began to work overtime. The armaments the mystery soldier had in his possession displayed capabilities far beyond anything LexCorp was cooking up, such technology could tip the scale of power in HIS favor. 'But how to approach such an individual?' he wondered to himself. 'I need more information.'

"Kryptonite tipped High Explosive Incendiary Rounds," the soldier said as his suit's repulsors lowered him into the crater. All the while he kept his rifle trained on the bleeding hostile. "Specifically tailored towards Kryptonian physiology. Surrender."

"STOP!" Sierra-117 groaned internally to himself he knew that relentless voice anywhere as it came barreling down into the crater to shield the Kryptonian.

{Medical Ward, C-PAIN Dawning Summer Prowler-Class Corvette, Sol System: 2008 AD}

"Troublesome," the Master Chief mutter in aequian while observing Kara In-Ze's surgery. Superman was floating next to him bruised and battered but all around no worse for wear. The resilience of kryptonian physiology was astounding. Not an hour ago they had removed the kryptonite fragments in his legs and Kent was already stan...err...floating. Something told John that he really didn't need those casts on his legs anymore.

Harpē just giggled at her farther's plight. For years he been avoiding the media with such innate ease that the press began dubbing him, "The Illusive Man." The nickname stuck and John Herman Septimus aka TIM, the mysterious grandson of SPI Industries late founder became London's most illusiveness and sought after bachelor.

John's return media mainstream was made as believable as possible even going as far as to fake his birth in 1977 with the creation of a genetically engineered body keyed into his genetic markers. A living breathing avatar that publicly house 117 consciousness even after his honorable discharge from the Royal Navy's SBS in 2002. From there he took the reigns of SPI-International from Harpē. Her avatar expired a year later while in sleep mode. John's on the other hand was currently running on autopilot back in London's SPI branch.

"What's so funny?" the source to 117's plight questioned the synth-skin replica droid housing Harpē's consciousness.

"You intimidate him Miss Lane," supplied the AI with mirth.

"Don't tell her that. She's incorrigible as is," John muttered to the cerulean woman with emerald eyes.

This earned a snort from Superman and Jimmy, and a bemused scowl from Lois. Famed damsel in distress of Superman or not Lois Lane was a worldwide renowned investigative reporter of Daily Planet, and the only journalist who managed to corner John Septimus and get an exclusive interview from London's most Illusive Man.

She was also the one who was able to nag-talk him into not only sparing the Man of Steel but providing both kryptonians medical. How she managed to get herself and her camera boy onto the Pelican was another mystery in itself.

John sighed at least he was able to confiscate the camera and their mobiles. The withering glare they received after that made even a few of his men shudder despite facing down hell-spawn and invading extra-dimensional/terrestrial beings on a daily basis. What Superman saw in her 117 will never understand.

"So...what is this place?" the 5'7" woman persisted with a tape-recorder in his face.

"Medical," John replied dryly causing her to scowl at him again. He reminded Lois of her father. A stereotypical military man to the bone. Though for some reason she was having a strange sense of déjà vu like she met him before, but dismissed it as she would have remembered interviewing someone 7'8".

"How about your name then?" she added a little of that Lane charm. It always worked on daddy after all.

"Classified," or maybe not.



"Origin?" Lois was grinding her teeth now.

"Elysium City, Eridanus II of the Eridanus System, UEG controlled space."

"And where is that?"

"An alternative reality," Harpē answered nonchalantly.

"And your a Superhero from your universe?"John's head slowly turned towards the journalist causing her to unconsciously take a step back. Lane could since the daggers being directed at her through the anonymity of his gold visor.

"No," the disapproval in his voice subtle but unmistakeable. "I am a soldier."

"A soldier?"

"Yes," that tidbit of information gave Lois a new angle to exploit as she remembered her past conversation with her father growing up and interviews with various servicemen and women.

"Of what?"


"Your duty?"

"My duty as a soldier is to protect humanity. Whatever the cost," that made Lane pause in her tracts. This guy was like a machine, the epitome of military professionalism. Someone who had no qualms about taking life nor giving up his own for the greater good. Daddy would love him.

"But not a hero?" Superman questioned the idea of someone being referred to as a hero offensive confused him greatly.

"I do what is expected of me like any good soldier. No soldier should we be praised as a hero for doing his or her duty - and my duty, my task is to protect Earth and all of her Colonies. No matter the cost."

"So if Superman hadn't surrendered or recovered his memories you would have...," Jimmy began connect the dots.

"Killed him? Yes." Kal-El and the others tensed at that admission but then again their mysterious host seemed like a no nonsense kind of man. They really shouldn't be surprised.

"Because he's an alien?" Lois questioned.

"No liability."

"How am I a liability?" this guy was becoming more obnoxious than Batman by the second.

"Although your efforts are admirable Superman you are a civilian vigilante. You have neither military or formal law enforcement training in dealing with domestic terrorists."

"Domestic terrorists?"

"John Corben aka Metallo, Winslow Schott the 2nd aka Toyman, and
Mark Mardon aka Weather Wizard are examples of domestic terrorists you have encountered during time as Superman."

"And I've stopped each and every one of their schemes," the Man of Steel crossed his arms.

"Only after causing an unprecedented amount of collateral damage through the use of brute force," John countered while scrolling through his tac-pad.

"And I suppose your answer is to kill them?" Superman interrogated.

"Yes, preferably with two shots in the chest and one in the head to be sure."


"Because this is what happens if you don't," John handed the Kryptonian the tac-pad.

"What is this?"

"A list of people who have been injured or killed by your repeat offenders."

"This...can't be right..."

"And that's only Metropolis Superman," the SPARTAN studied the sobering effect his words were having on the kryptonian before choosing his words carefully. "I'm sorry for being blunt with you. In truth I like your idealistic view of the world it's inspiring, but not realistic. The facts speak for themselves, sociopaths like Luthor will never quit, never yield, never acknowledge the loss. Their pride will never allow it. They'll keep coming back again and again roping in more innocent lives with every scheme."

"Then how are you any different?" Lois questioned sincerely. "If you take life aren't you no better than they are?"

"I have asked myself that for countless millennia," the SPARTAN took back the tac-pad and gazed out the window at great expanse leting his eyes wander a bit before stoping at Earth. "My conscription was out of necessity in the beginning. I never chose this life. But if I knew then what I know now I'd make the same sacrifice a thousand fold for humanity's sake. I think that is how I'm different. Though you can never know for sure."

"You speak as if you fought some great battle." Superman recognized the tone it reminded him of Orion in a way. "What happened?"

"Almost three decades of total war and genocide," John spoke neutrally but the pace of his heartbeat betrayed the man's sorrow to Kal-El's sensitive ears. "Trillions died and hundreds of world were reduced to glass from plasma bombardment."

"We tried to counter them at every front but we had neither the technology, numbers, or resources to beat them back. All we could do was slow the bleeding until the Covenant found Reach our fortress world in the stars and set it ablaze. Earth and a handful of backwater colonies were all that truly remained, and it was at Earth where we make our last stand."

"What is the Covenant?"

"A theocratic hegemony consisting of eight species divided into castes that serve the word of their Prophets," John recited the textbook definition. "Who in turn speak the will of their Gods. The Prophet Hierarchs declared Humanity an affront to their gods and set out to exterminate us down to every last man, woman, and child."

"W-Why would they...?" Jimmy

"The Forerunners, their gods had long ago declare humanity as their equals and the rightful inheritors of everything left behind. The Forerunners were a hyper-advance alien race that existed over 100,000 years ago. The truth concerning humanity's inheritance would have led to the dissolution of the Covenant and the Prophets' loss of political clout. I'd go into greater detail but the story of my know universe is a long one."

"Told it one too many time?"

"And then some Superman," he replied despondently. Names and faces of the lost flashed before his eyes. To him the wound was still fresh, nor did he ever want forget those he served with and the sacrifices they all made.

"Father..." it was moments like these that Harpē remember how much of a tired old soul the SPARTAN really was. Her head barely came up to his chest when she hugged him, she could have easily gotten a taller model but she preferred being daddy's little girl.

"I know." he smiled gently behind his helmet, "Lucky me."