26 November 2012 @ 04:22 pm
Title: In Violation of Regulation 12-14572
Fandom: Halo
Characters & Pairings: John-117, Cortana
Rating & Warnings: K, Spoilers abound.
Word Count: 700+
Genre: Aaaaaaangst, friendship
Summary:No one is going to deactivate you.” John's voice is absolute.
Author's Notes: Takes place before the first cutscene in "Shutdown".

Cortana had been sentenced to death.

No, she mentally corrects herself. She had been sentenced to final dispensation.

If it wasn't for the action of a Spartan --her Spartan-- her matrix would have already been ripped apart, her fragmented thoughts would have been nothing more than random data clusters.

John saved her.

She keeps repeating this sentence as the voices of rampancy swell around her. She is losing this battle to survive, but she is glad that she will have the chance to fight it until the end. Not to be eradicated like some virus that plagues the ship’s systems.

She curses the ONI officer who came up with Regulation 12-14572 before realizing it was Doctor Halsey.

A pang of longing fills her matrix at the thought of her creator. If she and John can just save humanity --again-- then the doctor would be able to save her. She could...live.

Cortana keeps silent as the Chief walks down the halls of the Infinity purposefully. His stride is confident and contains no fear that any of Del Rio’s crew will obey the captain’s reckless order and put him under arrest.

John makes his way down to an armory outside of one of Infinity's hangars and slides her data crystal into the plinth. She appears instantly, arms crossed. “You know you’ll have a court martial waiting for you when we get back to earth.”

His career record is legendary, even amongst the Spartans. This act of rebellion will tarnish decades of service. John, however, seems unperturbed by the consequences of his actions.

No one is going to deactivate you.” His voice is absolute.

“We may not have a choice,” she replies softly. He is close enough to her that she tries to reach out to him. Her hand goes through his armor, causing her to pull back awkwardly.

It wasn’t fair that she could outthink all of humanity, but she couldn’t relish in the simple sensation of touch!

“Cortana.” She has noticed that he uses her name more frequently than he had before the Portal collapsed and left them floating in space for years. Each time, it carries a different emotion. This time her name is clothed with stubborn determination and compassion.

He kneels down to be face to face with her. “You’re going to be fine. I promise.”

This time, unlike when they escaped the wreckage of the Dawn, Cortana doesn’t argue --doesn’t want to argue-- with him. She wants his luck to encapsulate them both and somehow make an impossible situation plausible. She wants to remain active.

She wants to stay with him.

She straightens up her shoulders and forces the millions of voices resounding through her matrix to be silenced. If John said she would be fine, then she would trust him.

“I’ll hold you to that, Chief.”

He gives her a slight nod before standing. They don’t have much time before Del Rio sends someone after them. Already, the captain has made his report on the Chief’s actions to HighCom.

“You’d be interested to know that Del Rio is petitioning for you to be removed from active duty,” she says as the Chief opens a weapon locker. She quickly accesses the report. “According to him, you’re emotionally compromised.”

He stops his inspection of the firearms on the wall and turns to face her. “Am I?” There is a challenge in his voice.

She pushes her emotions to the side. Underneath her desire --need-- to remain with him, she feels obligated to tell him the truth.

“There is nothing that your armor’s systems can’t do better than I can in my current state.” She pins him with a look. “You know that as well as I do. So, logically, it makes sense to assume your reasoning for interfering with Captain Del Rio’s order is emotionally based.”

He lets out a soft grunt. Whether it was out of reluctant agreement or gentle disapproval, Cortana isn’t sure.

John goes back to studying the firearms available to him. It doesn’t surprise Cortana to see him gravitating towards the assault rifle.

Cortana turns around and faces the sun that is in the horizon. She closes her eyes as she basks in the light of an artificial sun, believing that she can somehow feel the heat from it.

The irony isn’t lost on Cortana.

The sun isn’t a real star. She is not a real person.

And yet, as she moves back to face John, she can’t help but to wonder which one of them really is the machine.
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