Radioactive Armageddon: Chapter 3
DescriptionPicks up from chapter 2's startling cliffhanger with what one could call a 'different' setting.
|This writing has not yet been rated and therefore this information is not yet available.|
Chapter 3: Rude Awakening Harry was suddenly woken by a bright blinding light that filled the room all at once and left him clueless of his surroundings for a good couple seconds until his eyes finally adjusted. Once his eyes adjusted, he started to make out his surroundings. He was currently lying down on an uncomfortable mattress and staring up at the olive drab green bunk above. He could see he was in a bunk bed that made up a row that lined the wall, parallel to another row that lined the wall. Harry looked for the source of the light that woke him up and that’s when he finally noticed it. In between each of the bunks was a window, and what shined through the window… “Sunlight…” Harry quietly muttered to himself. He was then suddenly on his feet and fighting for a look out the window, among the other curious faces he recognized from the briefing room previously. When he got to the window, he felt a combination of emotions hit as he looked out on the green grass, open sky, and above ground buildings. Then he suddenly heard a familiar voice beside him. “Harry are you seeing what I'm seeing? This has to be a dream right, though I don’t know if I could even dream this.” Harry didn’t respond as he silently stared out onto the beautiful summer day that was as foreign to him, as an alien planet. He had gone his entire life underground, not even thinking he was missing anything from above, but looking at this made him reconsider his position entirely. A booming voice ripped him from his trance, and he turned to see a large menacing shadow proceeding down the aisle followed by its owner. Walking down the aisle was a tall and burly man dressed in a camouflage uniform and topped with a clean brown wide brim hat. The realization hit him suddenly, as Harry made the connection with several of the old war movies he had watched. Somehow, they had made their way into a 1960’s boot camp and they were now the recruits. “My name is Drill Instructor Hanes, and you worthless bunch are now under my supervision and care, as I attempt the impossible of turning you slobs into a capable fighting force. Now line up in front of your bunks!” Hanes boomed as the recruits all scrambled from the windows into position. Harry could tell that everyone including himself had questions, but not a soul dared to peeped up in the presence of this intimidating figure. Hanes paced the aisle with his hands behind his back as he seemed to inspect everyone with a stare that seemed to bore into your soul. What followed was something straight out of stereotypical boot camp, as Drill Instructor Hanes seemed to berate them over the simplest of things. The whole first day, they spent in that damn barracks room, cleaning and arranging it multiple times over until Hanes was finally satisfied, which almost seemed to be never. This of course didn’t sit well with everyone, and while many kept their grievances to themselves, others got a little more vocal. These people however were quickly corrected, as Hanes tore into verbally like a hungry feral hound. Harry had never seen this level of beration before as he saw people break down to tears after Drill Instructor Hanes had only had a few words with them. After the first day it seemed that Drill Instructor Hanes had successfully broken down any resistance within the batch of recruits. Through it all Harry and Amber tried to keep their heads down, as they still tried to understand what was going on. From what they gathered, it seemed that everyone had been knocked out by some gas or something and no one had any recollection past the briefing room. This looming mystery about their origin on how they arrived here, only seemed to come around at the end of the day when everyone was deadbeat exhausted and no one even cared to discuss it as they limped to their beds and tried to get whatever shut eye they could get. As Harry laid in bed motionless and his eyes began to grow weak and weary, he had a memory of that night that seemed a lifetime ago. When he finally drifted to sleep, the last thing on his mind was her angelic face that gave him harmony for the briefest moment. The next morning, the sound of loud metallic banging woke the recruits from their slumber, just before their eyes were rendered totally blinded for several seconds, by the sudden influx of light into the room. As Harry straightened up from bed and made an attempt to rapidly stand in the wake of the screaming and yelling of the drill instructor, he was hit with an overwhelming sense of soreness and aching that seemed to resonate from every part of his body. As he stood in front along with Amber and several other recruits that were able to scramble in time, he saw Drill Instructor Hanes dashing about like a mad man while beating on a trash can with a club and yelling at dazed recruits. Once everyone was at attention in front of their cots, the manically drill instructor finally discarded his trash can, and began to address the recruits. “Now that I have your undivided attention!” Hanes boomed. “I would like to introduce the newest piece of utterly useless cannon fodder to the group of belligerent monkeys.” As Hanes continued his normal rhetoric, Harry saw the door behind him open and in the darkness was silhouetted two shadowy figures. With what appeared to be a shove from the other figure, one of them immerged into the light as the door slammed behind her. Harry merely stood there, dumbstruck at the figure as she silently sized up her surroundings. At that very moment he wanted to call out to her, to ask her what was going on, but nothing came out as he stood motionless as a statue. Drill Instructor Hanes finally turned around and acknowledged her presence by shouting at her to fall in line at the end, which she did with much hast. The rest of the day went about as well as the last, as they countless amount of runs, exercises, and grueling activities that would probably be on par to some of the commando training scenes he had seen in some of the old war movies he would watch with a passion. Harry was mostly quiet for the rest of the day, as he merely acted as told and tried to stay of the path of the drill instructor. This was quite contrary to Amber, who through it all was still as chipper as ever, making small talk as they went along in their day. Harry often found little to say in response and he could tell that Amber was starting to catch on to this, and he knew he was going to be asked about it sooner or later. The problem was, he himself didn’t know what was wrong with him or really how to explain it. Two days ago, he understood his life and his role in the world and felt that things were looking up in that aspect. However, now that whole balance got thrown out the window, and he doesn’t understand his life or his role in the world as he is put through this hell of a cheap fucking knock off of a 1960’s boot camp. His entire world was out of wack, and he was just dizzy from all of the spinning. Harry wanted to go back to the way things were, but it appeared that ship has sailed, unless… He hadn’t spoken to Grace at all during the training as they have been mostly separated, but her sudden appearance brings up a lot of questions and perhaps a few answers. If he had any chance of figuring this whole clusterfuck out, he was going to need the help of Grace. “Harry? Hello? You home up stairs or have you gone full zombie on me?” Amber said as she ran alongside Harry in the formation. “Sorry, I kinda like to zone out on these runs, you know? Ummm… But what were you saying?” “Oh nothing, just venting on that obstacle course we just ran through, that was one hell of a bitch. Are you feeling okay though? You have been unusually quiet, I just hope you’re not still angry at me for getting us into this whole mess.” This comment sent a shock through Harry. “Amber I don’t blame you for any of what we are dealing with right now, this was the result of something far out of our hands.” “You sure about that, because I can tell when something is up with you and you certainly got something going on.” “Look, I’m just… Adjusting to our new predicament. I don’t see how someone gets their entire life thrown on it’s head and is expected to be ready for round two.” “Life isn’t meant to be an autonomous routine that never changes, as that would just make us robots. No it’s about facing and adapting to whatever comes to you and coming out better on the other side.” Harry shook his head in amazement of what he was hearing. “Look that sounds all good in concept until you look at reality. We are stuck in a boot camp being trained for God knows what, but whatever it is, it’s probably not good. We need to find a way out of this somehow, like escape or something.” “That won’t work.” Harry turned his head to see Grace was right behind him in formation. How he didn’t see her or notice her before was beyond him. Then the question struck him as he realized what she just said. “Why can’t we escape?” He asked hesitantly, not sure if he wanted the answer. “Simple, this isn’t real, it’s a training simulation designed for combat drills.” “Wait, that can’t be true, I feel the ache in my muscles and everything feels real.” Said Amber. That is when Grace stopped in her tracks and stepped to the side of the formation letting them pass by her. Curious, Harry did the same with Amber right behind him, even though he knew this was going to bring Hanes down on them. “You want proof?” Grace said as she pulled a sharpened shiv made from a toothbrush from her waistband. “What are you…” Is all Amber got out before Grace plunged the improvised weapon into her own chest. She made a slight whimper before falling to the ground in a pool of her own blood. “Holy shit, what do we do?” Harry said frantically as he knelt by Grace’s motionless corpse. “I don’t know it was the crazy bitch’s idea to stab herself in the first place.” Amber said with her arms crossed. “You know it’s not that nice to speak of the dead that way.” Said Grace as she walked up from behind the two. Harry looked to her and then the corpse on the ground, with pure bewilderment. “How did you?” “Relax, I’ve done this before. It actually helps because the simulation resets you to a completely undamaged form.” Grace said casually as she walked over to retrieve the shiv from her own corpse. “Recruits, what the hell are you…” Drill Instructor Hanes stopped at the sight of the three standing around Grace’s corpse. Harry stood there motionless like a deer in headlights as he awaited the wrath that was soon to come from this. However, Grace didn’t seem to have any fear as she casually strolled up to Hanes, stopping ten feet from him. “So who’s playing Drill Instructor today? Is that you Roger or is Mclanky playing drill instructor today?” Grace said with a confidence that seemed unmatched. “You’re out of line recruit.” Hanes said through gritted teeth. Grace began to approach. “Oh am I now? Last time I checked, I am not the one who ambushed and kidnapped someone to throw into a simulation to play soldier, but you don’t care about that do you? No I am sick of this shit, and I am demanding you take me out now.” Harry was surprised, when Hanes remained silent as he shook his head before pulling a smart tablet from his pocket. All of a sudden Harry, Amber, and Grace found themselves in a sterile white room that seemed featureless without any doors or windows. As Harry tried to process what the hell was going on, they were suddenly not in the white room anymore and were back in the barracks. Harry, Amber, and Grace stood there in the empty silence until they were greeted by a familiar voice. “You just had to pull that shanigan didn’t you?” They all turned to see Officer Mclanky standing behind them with his hands behind his back and scowl on his face. Harry was caught between a feeling of confusion and growing anger as he started to realize what was going on. Harry wasn’t able to get a word out before the combined voices of Amber and Grace filled the air with a hysterical rant that may have been its own language. After a minute of this going on, Officer Mclanky clear his throat and almost on que both of them stopped to give him a moment to speak. “Are you two done yet, because I would like to have a civilized conversation with you.” No one utter a word to that, so Mclanky continued. “Your little party trick put this entire program on the line, which why would you care right? Here’s why, this program is preparing stupid kids for the surface and if it fails, well let’s just say the consequences arn’t pleasant.” Before Amber or Grace could pipe in, Harry finally found the courage to speak up. “The surface? You mean we are going up to the bombed out hell above, that has less of a chance of retaining habitable life than fucking Mars.” “Hey! Cool your tone with me! There is a reason behind this decision as always, and that reason is the surface is better than mass starvation. As we stand now, we have less than a few decades left in our food stockpiles and we haven’t been able to cultivate any new stores due to equipment breakdown. In short, it’s a race to colonize and become self sufficient on the surface before our stocks run dry.” This last statement brought a lingering silence down onto the room that lasted a few long moments before Grace decided to break it. “Okay, and this whole program is a secret draft, designed to throw young disposable bodies at the problem, until it’s stable enough for you lot correct?” Officer Mclanky looked uncomfortable at this question and hesitantly downplayed it to the best of his ability, but it was too late because the shark smelled blood in the water. “Given the circumstances, I have a hard time believing we are the only hope for this problem, but instead just the simplest solution. So, what makes you think that I or anyone in their right mind would willingly go along with this huh? I mean, if this program fails, then that just means that we will go to plan B and everything will go back to normal.” “Not as simple as that, you see kid, there is so much politics and bureaucracy behind this, that it was a fucking headache to merely decide on the type of food being served in the simulated mess hall. A combination of the director and council’s decisions along with predetermined mandates, prevents us from sending a team of seasoned professionals up there, and this was one of the only compromises we could settle on. In short, according to the official records, you all will be considered as exiled, and therefore able to leave the ARK, unlike the rest of us who are held back by politics and the ARK’s security system who will identify us a deserters if we try to leave and list us as hostile.” “Wait, we can’t leave the ARK without being considered a deserter?” Amber asked perplexed. “Yeah, it’s a weird system, but the only way to leave is either exile or when the Director declares the evacuation protocol. Anything else, and you risk getting torn to pieces by the automatic defenses.” “Still don’t see how this concerns us.” Harry said with growing indifference. “Allow me to clarify then. If this program fails and they do not establish a colony on the surface, then you are right. We will resort to alternative methods, though it won’t be pretty. The Director and council will first enact mandatory rationing followed by population control through withdrawal of medical services for the elderly and a limit on children. After that, it’s up in the air, what will happen, but there will probably be additional people sent up to the surface. Also keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you learned nothing from this training or not because you will be shipped up to the surface and there is no turning back.” Harry went pale white at this comment, and looked to see Amber had a look of uncomfortable hesitation plastered on her face, while Grace seemed to have a look of pure hatred brewing within her. “How did you do it huh? Draw fucking straws on who you were going to send up to surface to die, or was this something else?” Grace spat out with hatred in her tone. Officer Mclanky merely looked absently down at the ground before shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter, how, but rest assured I refuse to send you up there to die. You will be trained and hardened for whatever is up there, you have my word on that. I just need you all to not pull these types of shenanigans and ruin the potential for simulated training. I need these kids thinking it’s the real thing until I can get them conditioned into something usable. Do you understand?” To this Officer Mclanky received three different responses in the form of body language, as Harry remained conflicted, Amber was understanding, and Grace was still jaded and bitter over the whole ordeal. Harry wasn’t sure what to think about this whole thing, as one hand he understood the necessity behind this, but the part of him that craved the sense of a stable and safe life was unsatisfied and reminding him of its presence with constant anxiety and stress. Questions like, “Will he make it?” and “What if something?” darted around his mind making it hard to focus or concentrate on the present. In the end, what bothered him the most was the fact that he had no answer to these questions. It had been two weeks, since their talk with Officer Mclanky and things were going about as well as one could expect. In the end Amber had been able to talk Harry and Grace somewhat into cooperating and going along with the simulation. Grace was a harder nut to crack, but she had a change of heart when Officer Mclanky pulled her aside and gave her a talk that seemed to unwillingly bend her disposition. She didn’t want to talk about it, and Harry decided to leave it at that, as it seemed sensitive. One day, unlike the rest of the days that were marked with the barking commands and insults of Drill Instructor Hanes, Harry and the other recruits woke up to a slightly more mellow and toned down version of the Drill Instructor. “Good morning recruits, at attention!” With this everyone, immediately and flawlessly scrambled to stand at attention in front of their bunks as the Drill Instructor silently paced the floor and inspected the recruits. Within a matter of two weeks, it seemed that everyone had managed to get with the program and this was just a normal part of life now. “Okay recruits, today we will be engaging in basic small arms training and tactics. Form rank and follow me to the armory.” Said Drill Instructor Hanes, as he led the way. Many of the recruits perked up at the comment, with Dustin almost seeming to lose his composure at the thought of weapons training. Come to think about it, Harry really didn’t pay much attention to the other recruits, but then again he didn’t really know many of them in the first place . He saw some of the guys from the red team that beat him up, but he avoided them. Then he saw familiar faces, but none that he actually associated with besides Amber and Grace. The three had made a team as they all tried to help each other out and get through this hellish training. They finally made it to the exterior building which was the armory as indicated by the white letter above the reinforced bunker door. Hanes unlocked the door and entered with the rest of the recruits trailing him. The interior of the armory was divided in two sections with a cage-like structure separating the recruits from racks of rifles lining the walls toward the back of the armory. Standing at a window that opened into the cage, silently stood a uniformed man that must have been the armorer. Hanes walked up to the window, and without a word the armorer handed him a rifle, to which he turned to the recruits with. “This is the CG-17 rifle, and by the time we are done here you will know exactly every component of this rifle.” Hanes announced to the group of recruits that seem almost entranced by the sight of the rifle. The rifle itself was a large cumbersome and blocky looking weapon with a long array of coils stretched down the barrel, giving it the image of some type of sci-fi ray gun. Other notable features was a large box located on top of the weapon which looked weird and out of place along with a large battery pack similar to some of the one’s they use for their devices, located in the buttstock. Drill Instructor Hanes, then went through the operation of the rifle and described each minute part of the rifle. Harry had a hard time keeping up, with all the jargon as this is the first time he had ever been guns as they were generally a rare sight in the ARK. The closest thing he had to seeing one was on some of the action movies that he got to watch from the ARK digital archive, and that one time he played a banned first person shooter game that one of the older kids had managed to download to their smart tablet before it was removed from the archive. Still, even with that knowledge he had no recognition of the weapon before him. “This rifle was purpose built for your purposes, and you will come to see this rifle as not only a tool, but the very life line you depend on. Now does anyone have any questions?” Said Drill Instructor Hanes as he patiently stood by to take questions. After all the questions we asked and answered, the group of cadets lined up to be assigned rifles before proceeding to the large military truck waiting outside, that Harry didn’t recall being there before. Once everyone had a rifle and was aboard the truck, Drill Instructor Hanes did one final inspection before nodding and disappearing to the front of the truck. The truck all sudden came to life with a thunderous roar before the truck started moving with everyone in the back a little startled at the sound. Amber was sitting across from Harry seeming to stare around at the inside of the green canvas covered truck. “How old do you actually think the design of this truck is?” Amber blurted out. Harry looked around and gave the question some thought. “I don’t know, probably old enough that it is one of our history books somewhere.” Said Harry as he looked down at the rifle sitting between his legs. “I know I made fun of you before on the radiation, but… do you actually think they know something we don’t, I mean why do we need these coil guns?” “To be honest, I just don’t want to think about it.” The truck finally stopped and every slowly got off the truck to see their new destination. Harry could see the distant bright orange targets about a football field size away from a line of benches under a rusted shack roof. “Everyone find a battle buddy and pick out a bench and await further instructions.” Said Hanes. Everyone split off, with Harry looking for Amber in the mess of confusion. “Hey, Harry, want to buddy up?” Harry turned to see Grace already standing at a bench, waiting on a reply. “Yeah, sure.” He said taking his place beside her at the bench. Once everyone had picked out a partner and a bench, Drill Instructor Hanes finally gave instruction on what to do next. Each team was given a set amount of time to practice with the new rifles on targets that ranged from 25 meters up to 100 meters. Once that time was up they would start being gauged for accuracy as a team and competitive with their fellow cadets for the highest score. Grace and Harry did fairly well getting use to the new rifles, the rifles themselves reminded Harry of laser tag in a way as they seemed to be relatively accurate and straight shooting with nothing, but a small pop to alert you that you have fired the weapon. The rifles had three settings to them, full auto, power shot, and semi auto. The full auto setting gave Harry a scare at first, because instead of the small pop he was used to hearing, he instead heard a loud rip as his round counter depleted the last 60 rounds he had in a matter of three seconds. Then there was the power shot setting which required Harry to hold the trigger down for about five seconds before releasing to hear a loud crack as the steel ball was hurled at the target at about five times its normal speed. When Harry looked around to see how the other groups were progressing he could pick out five notable groups with familiar faces. Sammy and Bruce in a group and somehow didn’t show any sort of resentment between each other over the previous incident. Amber got paired up with Dustin who seemed to be too focused on tinkering with his new rifle to actually shoot it, Amber looked indifferent as she plinked at the orange silhouette targets. Harry noticed that David their former water boy was also here, and he was grouped up with Mavis. Michael and Billy, the two guys from the Red team were also here and lastly Rachel and Sarah, two girls Harry recognized as belonging to Zinnia click back in the ARK, clearly the most bewildered of the groups as they awkwardly fumbled around with their rifles under the scrutiny of Drill Instructor Hanes. The practice finally came to an end however, and each of the groups then prepared themselves for what was to lie ahead. In total there was 21 teams that Drill Instructor Hanes stood in front of and began issuing instructions for what was to happen next. “Now that you are all familiar with your CG 17 rifles, we may begin out first combat drills.” As he spoke Harry saw the static orange targets he was shooting at before disappeared and it their place stood targets in the shape of human silhouettes that were slowly moving from side to side. Drill Instructor Hanes then laid out the rules of the drill to the recruits. Each team is to start at starting line and move from cover to cover engaging the targets. They start with a limited amount of ammo and misses on targets add to their time. In addition to that, the team needs to utilize cover to its full advantage and can only pop their head out from cover to engage the targets for a maximum of five seconds, anyone who is out of cover for longer will be considered dead and their teammate will have to finish the reminder of the course by themselves. Harry looked around at his fellow recruits to gage the general mood among the recruits. He could see that Sammy was pointing to some of the targets with Bruce looking on silently. Amber was scanning the drill, while Dustin tinkered with something on his rifle. Billy and Michael were quietly laughing about something, while David and Mavis along with Rachel and Sarah looked nervous as they quietly talked in their groups. Harry looked to Grace who just gave him a smile and said. “You ready to crush this big guy?” Harry gave a faint smile back, but on the inside he was nervous, he was worried that he would make a fool of himself especially in front of Grace, but he kept it under wraps because he didn’t want to appear weak either. The first group that was up was Billy and Michael who walked up with a ere of smug confidence, like this was going to be a walk in the park. The bell rang and the two sprinted to the cover where they engage the first set of target with no problem as they ducked behind cover before running to the next cover and engaging the next set of targets. The two repeated this process on the next seven stages and ended drill with an impressive time of 4 minutes flat. Next group up was Sammy and Bruce, the bell rang and the two ran to the first stage where they began engaging the targets. “Fucking hell Bruce, let me do the shooting if you can’t hit the fucking target.” Sammy cursed as they finished and ran to the next stage. The next few stages didn’t go much better as Sammy did the majority of work on the stages while quietly berating Bruce’s terrible aim along the way. Things finally came to ahead on the fifth stage and Sammy ran out of ammo. “Shit, I am out, Bruce hand me your rifle.” Said Sammy. “That sounds like your problem, I still got ammo.” Said Bruce as he pop his head out to take two shots before popping back behind cover. “Look you can’t hit a fucking building from five feet away let alone these targets, give me your fucking gun!” Said Sammy as he tried to reach for Bruce’s rifle, but was somehow surprised when the hothead gave him the butt of his rifle instead. Drill Instructor Hanes immediately stepped in and disqualified the two taking both of their rifles away and sending them off to god knows where. After that Sarah and Rachel were up and that went as well as could be expected, the two fumbled past the first stage barely managing not to be disqualified for taking so long to make their shots. On the third stage, Sarah did get counted as dead leaving Rachel alone to finish the course. Rachel decided in order to save time and possibly get a decent final time, she switched her rifle to full auto and began spraying and praying through the stages. This however didn’t end well as she finally ran out of ammo exactly one stage later and was disqualified from the course. Next after that was David and Mavis who Harry really didn’t know what to expect out of. The two started and moved through the fairly decent while missing a few shots and being a bit slower, they ended with a time of 5:21. After them finally came Amber and Dustin, who seemed to be on different pages right at the start. When the bell rang they both ran forward and engaged the stage with Amber taking the majority of the targets. Dustin ducked down and adjusted something on his rifle, while Amber ran to the next stage and began engaging targets. When Amber finally ducked for cover and looked back she didn’t see Dustin beside her, but instead back at the first stage shooting at targets from other stages that were further off. “Dustin what the hell are you doing? Get over here and help me engage these targets!” “I am, it’s just I modified my rifle’s magnification to reach out and hit the targets on the last stages.” “Why did you… Never mind just keep doing what you are doing.” Amber said with a sigh. Amber managed to make it to the fifth stage and was just about to shoot before she heard round zip by her and hit one of the targets. “Damn it Dustin, that could have fucking hit me!” Amber shouted to Dustin who was now far away standing back at the first stage. “Well it didn’t…” Said Dustin sheepishly. “Get the fuck up here now!” Amber shouted. Dustin complied and began running from cover to cover until he finally got up to where Amber was. “Well shit, we only got a few more targets on the seventh and some more on the sixth, but it’s already been 3:50.” Said Dustin. “You said your rifle has better magnification on it?” “Yeah, of course.” “Let me barrow that for a second.” Amber said as Dustin traded rifles with her. And just like that Amber began rapidly picking off the remaining targets on the last stages. “Damn did you…” “Yes, now we got to run if we want any chance of getting a time under 4:30. Now let’s go!” The two then began from last few stages and eventually ending with a time of 4:27. Harry watched Amber and Dustin pass them as they finished the stage. Harry was surprised on how well Amber did on the shooting course and now that it was about to be their turn, he wasn’t even sure that they would come close. “Grace and Harry your up!” Shouted Drill Instructor Hanes. Grace gave Harry a slight smile before stepping forward confidently to the starting line. Harry followed her lead and stepped up the line. At the ring of the bell the two darted forward and took up positions at the first stage. “You get the right; I’ll get the left!” Grace commanded and Harry complied. Grace knocked down all her targets with ease, while Harry missed one and before he could take another shot Grace had already shot it. “Come on, let’s move!” Said Grace cheerfully. Harry still unsure of himself, followed her to the next stage where they did it all again. This time however in an attempt to rush it, Harry missed two of his shots. “Hey slow down cowboy, the time doesn’t matter if you miss the target anyway.” Grace said reassuringly. At this comment Harry slowed down his shooting and on the next stage managed to hit all his targets. Harry and Grace then finally got in a groove of doing things and moved from stage to stage in quick succession. They finally came to the last two stages with 3:29 on the clock. “Alright, we’ll engage the rest of the targets from this stage then we like hell for the exit!” Said Grace. The two methodically picked their way through the targets until none were left standing. When it was time to run Harry tried making a run straight to the exit but was suddenly startled when Grace yanked him behind the last cover. That is when Harry remember the five seconds out of cover rule and silently thanked Grace for pulling his stupid ass behind cover before he got disqualified. The two then emerged from the last cover and sprinted to the exit, ending the drill with a time 3:52. “That was fucking awesome, you did really good back there.” Grace exclaimed between breathes. Harry almost looked surprised at this comment. “You were the one, pulling my dead weight through.” Said Harry while still breathing heavily. “No, that was a team effort, and you and I made one hell of a team.” Said Grace with a sly smile. Harry could see Amber walking up to them as they stood and caught their breath. “Congrats guys, I think you might have just set the record.” Said Amber. “Thanks… you did well yourself. Where did you learn how to shoot like that?” Said Harry. “I didn’t, I guess it just came natural.” Said Amber. “Why did you leave your teammate?” Said Grace. “I didn’t leave him; he just had a different way than mine.” Said Amber. “Yeah, but the point of the exercise is teamwork.” Said Grace. “Look just because you think your hot shit, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly above us all.” Said Amber. Harry braced himself as he could tell this exchange wasn’t going to end well. “Just trying to give friendly advice… you obviously need it.” Grace quietly trailed off with that last part. “You want to pick a fight bitch?” Said Amber. “No, I don’t punch below my skill class.” Said Grace. That was the last straw, Amber swung for Grace’s head, but Grace ducked and was about to deliver a strike to Amber exposed stomach before Harry dove in between the two and separated them. The two tried to get past him and strike at the other, but after a few seconds of mindless flailing they finally seemed to calm down and separate without a word. Drill Instructor Hanes was fast as he marched over to the disturbance with look of annoyance plastered on his face as he started to raise his voice. “I swear to god, if that was a fight I just saw, then god have mercy on your soul because I am going to…” Drill Instructor Hanes said as he went on for several more minutes on a rant that seemed to last a century. After he was done, all three recruits were suddenly quiet and shy as all past hostilities seemed to vanish from their faces. “No sir, no fight or problem here.” Amber sheepishly said. “Good, it better stay that way.” Drill Hanes said right before he marched off. Harry looked to Amber and Grace, both are still quiet from that recent rant. Finally, Amber walked off without saying a word and Harry was left in silence unsure of what to make of the situation. He then felt Grace’s hand on his right shoulder as he watched Amber’s retreating figure. “She will get over it. Some people just have sensitive egos, that’s all.” She said. Harry understood the logic, but a part of him felt that this sudden schism would not be going away as fast as Grace thought.