A Chasm of Unknown Dimensions

(A Halo Universe Fan-Fiction)

“We can begin when you’re ready.” Said Dr. Fine.

Bradley Fine had a PHD in psychology for no other reason but that it sounded better to take your problems to a doctor instead of a social worker. But he was a therapist, like any other civilian. Make no mistake his credentials were outstanding and his specialty, if you call it that, was bringing victims of post-traumatic-stress, healing. Helping people return from the long war with the Covenant was his job. And most would reintegrate with their former selves, with their former lives with ease. But right there in front of Dr. Fine sat a man taller than any other soldier. A soldier who’s scars told of his sacrifice, a story that ran deeper than any other who had ever sat on that couch. This time Fine wondered if he truly could rehab anyone. Heck, Master Chief doesn’t even have a home to come home to. Fine knew that without a war to fight, the Chief would only feel empty and aimless like so many other soldiers with substance abuse problems. Who fill holes in their souls with things that make surviving . . . tolerable. But Spartans, most Spartans, never drink and find any impairment of their senses to be disturbing. For the most part they’ve all had enough chemical torture during their training in the Spartan Program. Fine knew the Chief would be unpredictable, an alien on all accounts. There was only one way forward: from the beginning.

“I’m always ready Dr.” Said MC.

“Can I call you by your name? I prefer not to talk with people by their rank. It’s impersonal and I’m not military.” Said Fine.

“Whatever makes you comfortable Dr.” Said MC.

“Well ideally this would make you more comfortable but yes, and you can call me Brad, by my first name.” Said Fine.

“That’s alright with me, Dr. . . Brad.” Said MC.

“Good well, as you know for the next 15 weeks we’ll be meeting weekly this time each Tuesday. 15 weeks is mandatory by the UNSC and by order of your CO Captain Nelson. But if you want to continue meeting after 15 weeks there’s no reason why you couldn’t. I hope that this will be a very positive experience for you. And I also want you to know that even though the choice to be here was not your own, for now, you are still my client. Which means that if you are not satisfied with the care you’re receiving here I want to know and we can pursue alternate methods of treatment that might be more effective.” Said Fine.

“Understood.” Said MC.

“Just curious, have you always been a man of few words?” Asked Fine.

“Very few words need to be said, to be understood.” Said MC.

“That’s very true.” Fine tapped the pen in his hand on the pad of papers he took notes in and looked out the window at the sunlight.

“If you don’t mind John,” Fine continued,”Could you tell me what happened that brought you here to my office?”

Master Chief knew this question was coming, and in the 36 ways he anticipated answering this question none of them ended satisfactory.

“I lost my temper.” Said MC.

“I take it you don’t lose your temper very often?” Said Fine.

“It’s not part of my training. In fact it’s part of my training to control my emotions. Mostly with mental exercises and other times hours in a Neural Reconstructor. Which would be a much more efficient treatment for my condition.” Siad MC.

“And also much more dangerous.” Said Fine.

“A risk I’m willing to take.” Said MC.

“It kills most people.” Said Fine.

“I’ve survived it.” Said MC.

The truth is Captain Nelson already put in for a Neural Reconstructor and specialist to be on standby if their wounded Master Chief situation couldn’t be contained. Given their gratitude towards the hero of Master Chief they all decided it would be worth taking a gentler approach and giving John and extended leave of absence. Dr. Fine’s just afraid that if therapy does not succeed in controlling John’s symptoms within the 15 week deadline. John will be forced to undergo treatment and have his most painful memories removed.

“Could we get back on subject? Where were you when you lost your temper?” Asked Fine.

“I was in the infirmary, for a followup appointment 2 weeks on earth since my last deployment.” Said MC.

“The end of the war.” Said Fine.

“And the start of another.” Said MC

“Yes the war at home” Fine smirked when he said those quotable words.

But that’s not what MC meant. He meant that a war is coming from farther out, with greater numbers and a threat to all life in this galaxy. In his eyes MC is just waiting to put on his suit again. But when he does one piece will be missing. Cortana.

“I was recieving a checkup and they had a screened for ptsd they gave me after I’ve been having so much trouble sleeping. They thought it was reverse motion sickness, too much time on my sea and star legs and I couldn’t cope with sleeping motionless. I took several pills that did nothing. So that’s when they called the psych. I wasn’t nervous at the start.” Said Chief.

“But at some point you got nervous what did she ask you?” Said Fine.

It took some time for the Masterchief to think. He didn’t know exactly what to do next. He wanted to know. And he’d often wait untill he figured it out before speaking again.

“The Dr. asked me about my relationship with the AI Cortana and how I am living with its death. That made me angry,” Said MC.

“With respect John, she’s just doing her job.” Said Fine.

“What pushed me over the top were some fliers that compared the companionship between a human and an ai the bonds between a soldier and a war dog. That made me want to scream.” Said MC

“but there was one more thing.” Said Fine.

“She suggested that I own the civilian conversational model of Cortana and talk to her. Like replacing a fallen war-dog with a pet of the same breed.” Said MC.

“She’s lucky I didn’t kill her.” Said MC.

“What did you do instead John?” Said Fine.

“I shoved her out of the way hard. Not hard enough to injure just hard enough for feel good for doing it.” Said MC.

“John if I could stop you right there, you did show a lot of restraint and control over your emotion just not all working together in the right timing. Now at the end when you pushed someone away that was rooting around your life stirring up pain that was very discomforting so we want to limit these interactions as much as possible. Next time you get triggered do try to zone out and calm down. When you talk again with the persion who offends you, detach yourself from the conversation and  let them go on speeking empty words. This way you can’t build enough tension to lose your temper. It works for now but in the long term we want therapy and by extracting  the unprocessed emotion from your brain we  can get you to a place where you can live free of constant emotional pain.”Dr. Fine said.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m in constant emotional pain.” Said MC.

“But I’d say you are John. Your emotions are dormant, we know as Dr.s how they go dormant and why. 2 main causes, one for survival, and 2 for what humans perceive as social pressures. You are out of the battlefield which suppressed your symptoms up to this point. Look at what you are suffering with now, you mentioned sleep trouble.

“I have nightmares,” the Masterchief said, cutting to the point.

“About that,” Brad pulled a page from the folder on his lap. “This is the questionnaire you answered before coming in. Thank’s for recieving my e-mail.  Looking down the list you report on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the worst, the sevarity of any classic post traumatic symptoms you might be experiencing. There is something very odd about your report,”

“What is it?” The Masterchief asked.

“It’s very atypical, I expected that much with you. In fact, I expect a certain level of variation in every one of my clients but you stand out more than the rest. In your report of your symptoms you’ve checked all zero’s, nothing, no abnormality at all. Except for the nightmares. Disturbed sleep, but oddly enough not reduced sleep duration. You must be very disciplined, would you agree?”

“I am,” the Chief said.

“This is abnormal, the way you must be living is abnormal. Disciplined intentional, methodical. Do you want to know something else?” Brad asked.

“Say it” the Chief said.

“Other Spartans suffering the same trauma often reporting the same conditions. Commit suicide before they can receive treatment,” Brad said.

“No Spartan has ever committed suicide” the Masterchief reacted, delivering the line as if it were practiced.

“Not officially, but I did some digging. They didn’t leave notes, and they certainly didn’t leave anyone behind that they would miss, or miss them. With all your training a Spartan would never turn the gun on him or herself and pull the trigger. That’s impossible. But we both know that for a soldier suicide by self or by placing yourself in front of an enemy that would do it for you, is the same thing. For all their training, Spartans decommissioned from combat or on hold between missions have a remarkably high rate of fatal accidents. And when the ones suffering the most, finally do return to combat. The end is very close for them” Brad said looking intently in the eyes of the Chief.

The Chief was upset although he wouldn’t show it. The result was he became subtly tense and more abrupt in his responses.

“Your point being?” The Chief asked.

“You’re under a great deal of pressure, to look normal, to act normal. And while you’re fooling everyone, and yourself. Using all of your training and everything you are to maintain it. The bottom line is it’s threatening your life,” Brad said.

“No I’m not suicidal” the Chief said.

“Are you? Aren’t you?” Brad raised his voice. Typically an indiscretion among licensed therapists in his field however Brad needed to reach the Chief on his level. As a result he made himself  hostile if for just a moment.

“Is your life whole for you if you live here on earth alone? Or are you waiting on a war in the future that will never come. He’re’s what I think of you John, you’re scared of your own skin, when the soldiers dropped by helicopter and kidnapped you from the street your weakness your humanity let them take that away when they stole your soul and trained you to be a killer you escaped to Cortana who told you how many lives you were defending. Right now you have your humanity failing you again. And this time you don’t have Cortana to go to. I think this is the perfect time for you to grieve. But if you don’t the emptiness you feel inside will grow until life isn’t worth living anymore. But that is your choice.” Fine said.

Fine stood up and walked around the office room, widened the blinds and the Chief just sat there thinking.

“There are many Spartains out there on earth alive and in danger. You know them, be their leader through this. Show them how to beat PTSD. If you can do it John I guarantee anyone can.

 “I think Brad, I just want to start with my own problems,” Said MC

Brad nodded to the Chief, “We will John, we’ll find out how you’re doing and fix it. But not superficially. Living a balanced lifestyle by discipline alone is not the enemy to you. You take care of yourself on the outside so you have the energy to begin taking care of yourself on the inside. I’ve done this myself and have helped other’s do this with great success,” Brad took off his glasses and set them on the table next to him.

“We have to be honest with each other, completely. And with ourselves if we’re to have any hope of making an accurate diagnosis of what’s making you sick. And as a result formulate an accurate treatment plan that successfully meets your needs to bridge the gap between your disciplined waking mind and your dormant emotional mind” Bradly spoke from experience. “Does this make sense?”

“Yes” said MC.

“One last thing before you can leave today, ‘Excluding all military activity have you have you ever in your civilian life harmed or intend to harm anyone, including yourself?”

“No.” Said MC.

“But you did John, she’s decided not to press charges, but you broke that poor nurses arm.” Said Fine.

“Oh no”

“I promises you John, we’ll get control of this.”

(Coming Soon:)