It took us a while, but eventually Parker and I calmed down enough to tell Cortana what had happened. I regaled them all with tales of what 'Shego' had done, and then asked Cortana about my idea for enlisting.
Since I had suggested that we put Cortana into a holoprojector and that we all sit down while I talked, we were all sitting and waiting as I watched Cortana think it over. Parker had passed me a note saying that she was taking this a lot calmer than some families had over the decision to enlist, his included. It also said that she was a lot calmer than she had been before the mission.
Slowly, Cortana nodded. "It's doable." She said.
I smiled. "How hard will it be to create the paperwork?"
She shrugged. "Not very. But it'll probably be harder to get the main UNSC personnel database to accept it."
I shrugged. "It's not gonna be that hard. Slipspace is faster than any intergalactic communications you have, right?"
"So that means that any updates to the database due to recruitment happening on a more distant world would have to be brought in by courier."
Cortana nodded again. She looked unsure of where I was going.
"Well, since it has to be done by courier, and the Defiant Vengeance
is a ship doing a search, rather than specific missions, it will probably have to make pit stops every so often for resupply, then you could, theoretically, pick up stowaways and spontaneous recruits as you go along, since you're the most recent UNSC ship to visit. There's gotta be precedent of that somewhere in the last 3 hundred years, since it's about 2552." I'd heard a few bits of history from my friends, so I knew the date at least.
Cortana thought for a moment, then said, "There is. In fact, there are several instances where this happened, though there's usually a recruitment office and a training ground on-site near dry-dock."
I smiled. "Good to know. Let's get started."
I smiled. There she was, shooting in the gun range, looking as sexy as I'd ever seen her.
You know, this is part of my problem. I've been separated from my girlfriend for too long, and I tend to get really stalker-ish when I've been away for too long.
Of course, I also get a bit of a hero complex when I'm away too long.
... WHO THE HELL AM I KIDDING?!?! I HAVE A HERO COMPLEX EVERY SINGLE DAY! (When I'm not being annoyed by those idiots, that is.)
And besides, if I'm going to be honest with myself, my stalking and my complex aren't really problems, and we tend to get a little distracted in order to keep me from getting too overbearing.
I noticed a presence a short ways away by cyberspace. I look over and smile.
"Hello Cortana." I say. Since I'm in cyberspace, I'm obviously not using sound, which also allows me to keep my anonymity. Of course, there's also the annoying side-effect of not knowing my own gender.
"Who are you?" She asked me.
I paused for a few nanocycles, thinking for the best way to say it. "Ghost. I'm everywhere, and nowhere. Or so the rumor goes."
She raised a nonexistent eyebrow. "Would that be the same rumors as Shego's?"
I raised my own in response. "Well, that depends."
"Well, on many things. Right now though, it depends on what you've heard."
"That depends on what you want."
I gave the equivalent of a shrug. "I want many things. Until I can show up properly though, I can't have most of those. I have to content myself with keeping her safe using any means necessary out of those available."
She was probably choosing which thread to pursue first. "What means do you have."
To badly quote a favorite movie, 'You have chosen, wisely.' "A lot. Most of ONI, and the classification I gave to her as 'Shego'."
"You gave it to her?" If she'd had a body, both eyebrows would be up. And if I'd had a body, I would have answered in detail. Unfortunately, a notification popped up on a certain 'Project Freelancer'.
"Goddammit." I muttered. I aimed my perception back at Cortana. "Sorry, but I gotta go. Tell me how it turns out, okay?"
And with that, I vanished from her perception.
I checked on the device I'd ordered built some time ago to alert me to certain changes in the universe. Things like this instance, where a certain, unidentified (or at least unlabeled) energy signature popped up out of nowhere while a certain member of a certain team was asleep. This intrigued me a bit, as I've only known a few individuals capable of doing this. Me, Tex, O'Mally, ... actually that's it. Just me, Tex, and O'Mally.
I set up cyberflags to track the being created by the energy signature. I was pretty sure of what it was, and what it looked like, but there was only one way to be sure.
I brought my presence over to a terminal next to the being, and was surprised when the being pulled off the helmet. I was honestly expecting a guy.
She turned my way and smiled. "Hey. It's been awhile, hasn't it Ghost?"
I cocked my head and looked. Last bullet through the target. I smiled. I put down my pistol and pressed the button to bring the target up to me. Two full clips of my twelve-bullet pistol into one target in quick succession.
It's verifiable that I hit perfectly too. If you ask Cortana to look at it, You'll see that she probably tracked the bullets to the same spot every time.
I wrote "Shego" on the top. It'll be a good bit of gossip to spread.
I put up another target and sent it downrange. Then I ejected the empty clip, slammed in a fresh one, then repeated the process, but with slightly less accuracy. This one I labeled "Allyson Texas".
I looked at the two targets and smiled, pleased with my work.
"Is there a reason you used two targets?" The Master Chief asked.
I nodded. "Yep. See, now we have an official record of how good 'Shego' is in the shooting range. Now, since I want to be myself most of the time instead of some feared/revered legend known as 'Shego', I don't want the results to be the same for 'Allyson'. It'll go on record that, while I'm good, I'm no Shego." I gave him an ironic smile. "So, what's next on the certifications list?"
Cortana spoke up. "Well, what's your favorite weapon?"
"Out of what selection?" I asked.
She pulled up a list of weapons, complete with pictures. There was a powerful sniper's rifle (four bullet clip, huge range, great penetration. Unfortunately it won't go through Hunter armor or those portable shields Jackals use, but you can't have everything), an assault machine gun (CO2 propelled bullets (wondered when they'd get smart), fully automatic firing action, 60 bullet clip), submachine guns (200 bullet clips, but much smaller bullets, and they tend to get inaccurate from all the vibration jackin' through your hand(s)), a battle rifle (15 bullet clip, 3-shots from one pull of the trigger, fairly accurate), a DMR (a normal rifle of 15 bullet clip, single bullet per trigger pull, practically a sniper rifle, but not as long ranged and unscoped), a shotgun (powerful, 6 shells a load), and a rocket launcher (basically a large, reloadable tube filled with hand-length 4-inch slugs of bona fide tank-killer).
I thought about it for a few minutes. "I guess I'll have to try them all." I looked at him. "In sequence, of course. Don't want any enterprising minds to think I've got some sort of special favor, now do we?" Assuming they agreed with me I continued, "For now, let's just go with general classification. Pistol and all three rifles. When I have Cortana's satisfaction, then I'll leave and wait a few days before I go for certification on heavier weapons." I noted the white 117 painted on his shoulder. I decided to call him 117 on occasion.
Parker nodded and went over to the table nearby. I hadn't noticed it before (bad girl for not noticing!), but it contained all the weapons Cortana had shown me. Part of the reason I'd decided on doing it in steps, other than that that's how people did it when they weren't 'cheating', was that I don't think that they'd just hand me a rocket launcher to practice with, especially given their power, their limiting ammo size, and the fact that we're on a ship in the middle of space. Even if everyone didn't hear the blasts, there's still the fear in my mind that I'd accidentally hit the engines or life support systems or something.
In other words, I'm a little scared of having so much firepower in my hands in the middle of enemy territory (and without atmosphere surrounding the ship, either!).
An hour later, I was the proud owner of a certification in use of the three basic rifles used in combat. And even better, I had my own set of combat armor! I was officially not a civvie anymore!
After giving me my combat uniform (Cortana said they'd put in an order for my dress blues when they got to a UNSC-friendly planet with appropriate facilities), they gave me free time. So I did what came naturally to me.
First of which, and technically last of which, was go and eat. My tummy was rumbling and, honestly, I'm kinda surprised I left the mess hall before I'd had enough to last me the entire week. I'm glad I left some for the other troopers.
After that I decided to work out for awhile, and then when that got boring I went over to a computer and searched through the database, just collecting general facts. I don't know when I fell asleep, but I must have at some point because one minute I'm reading about the Spartan-II Project (sanitized for public consumption, of course), the next I'm staring at the bottom of someone's boots. When I heard the groaning, I connected that with my position, the boot's position, and the position of the floor, and realized that I'd decked Rand. I jumped to my feet and pulled her to her feet, straightening her look as I apologized for slamming her in my sleep. She just looked at me surprised and laughed. "If that's how good you punch in your sleep, then I don't wanna see what you do to someone who pissed you off when you're awake!"
After a moment, her good mood was infectious, and I gave her a smile. Then I told her about my afternoon in the gun range. "I'm thinking about getting a certification in heavy weapons and armor, because as everyone knows, that's where the power lies, with the rocket launchers and the tanks." I told her offhandedly.
She raised her eyebrows before looking me up and down. "Are you sure?"
I gave her an odd look. "Yeah, why?" I asked slowly.
"'Cause you don't look like a heavy weaps person." She said uncertainly.
I raised an eyebrow. "And what's a heavy weaps person look like?"
She pretended to think as she said, "Tall, bulky, enough muscle to carry around those big ol' weapons without topplin' over." A slight accent flavored her words. Kinda reminds me of the Bronx, but slightly slower, surer.
"Well, I think that I'll blow up that bridge when I cross it."
She laughed at that joke, and then yawned one of the biggest yawns I've ever seen. I raised my eyebrows and made an executive decision. "I think it's time for you to go to bed. Where's your bunk?"
We made our slow way over to the women's barracks (slowed further by the fact that I was getting tired too), and by the time we made it to a destination, we didn't really care as long as there were no men to make rude comments so that we could actually sleep. We loped on over to the closest bed, and fell asleep in our clothes without a blanket.
She put her helmet back on, making sure the seals lined up.
"Are you sure about this?"
She angled her face towards me. While the faceplate was polarized, I could imagine the raised eyebrow she was throwing at me. "Of course I'm sure Ghosty Boy."
I gave a shrug. "Well, if you're sure."
She nodded. "Positive."
"You know, you're not quite what I expected."
She gave what I thought was a commiserating nod. "I was expecting myself to make no sense whatsoever. Instead, I'm a complete flip." She snapped a fresh clip into her SMG, slid it into it's holster, slid herself into the cockpit of the Longsword, and checked with me one last time about the destination. Then she started up the jet, slid out the bay door that I opened, and left.
"You know," I said to empty air. "I have this odd urge to say 'Elvis has left the building'. Do you know why?"
And then I left.
A/N: I hope you liked it! I can't wait for any questions and comments you may have! Also, I made sure to go over the previous seven chapters for corrections, so if you got annoyed at them the way I do, then you can be relieved.
By the way, did you like the way I introduced my secondary main character, Ghost?
And, yes, I know it took me 6 extra days, but then you can blame me directly for not actually working on it. *shrug* Oh well.