"You're not on the playground anymore!" A muscular man yells to us, a group of 200 scared kids. "You're at the UNSC training academy! We will train you, we will break you. You will bend. And you will be the perfect soldier!" I understood his words, even though I was just 7 years old I understood each and every word to its fullest. "I am Chief petty officer Hokai, I will be your backbone, the man who pushes you past your breaking point!"
9 years later
Two lines of 15 well trained fighting machine 15 year old academy soldiers line up.
Up ahead is a training ground. First up there's a rope that leads up to metal tires that are set up in rows of two. After those is a weak wooden bridge. And one after that is a jungle gym maze of at least one hundred thin rope strings. The ropes drops onto a large metal platform with cement barricades peppering the vast platform and red stains splattering the metal. In the middle of it all is a mound of dirt with a flag of an eagle, in one talon are three arrows, and the other is a lightning bolt.
I had seen that insignia before, but only on the clothes on a muscular and tall man with many badges. He was running, running away from UNSC soldiers. I had only understood that the man was in trouble, and that I didn't want to get in his way.
Chief Hokai paces back and forth between us. "You are playing Capture The Flag! Whoever gets the flag first will get a day off of duties. The one who loses will have to do their usual duties, plus the wining team's! There is only one rule, you cannot kill. At the sound of the DMR fire, you will run. And run fast. Because nobody wants to do double duty," he finishes, grinning.
We line up in two lines, 30 trainees, 15 in each line. I'm in the front of my line, Blue team. Behind me is a fellow member, Jetson Jerry. Beside me is a fellow rival, Jackson Perrish.
I pay no attention to him and pay attention to the first challenge, a large rope that uses mainly upper body strength.
Two minutes pass, three, four. Then finally there are two DMR rounds that fire up into the sky.
I charge forwards, slinging my Assault rifle filled with non-lethal rounds onto my back, two yards of dead-out running. I charge ahead of Jackson, rounds bursting around me as others try to stop me. I leap onto the first rope and power up without using my legs. Jackson appears beside me, face straining with effort of keeping up with me.
I grab the ledge of the first tire and swing onto the side. I glance to my left and see Jackson falling and hitting the ground. A fellow red team member takes up his place, hopping back and forth between tires. The tires slow me down and another red member keeps pace with me. In a flash he lashes out his arm at me, it connects with my face. I stumble but lash back at the red member and knock him down. He recovers but I'm already far ahead.
I've reached the rope maze, calf's burning. With a strong leap I grab the first rope and swing to the next. Someone comes up behind me as I'm about to jump to the next rope. The red team member uses one arm to unsling his Assault rifle and shoot me in the back. I wince at the non-lethal round smashes into my spine. Sending spears of pain through my back. Yet I continue, keeping my eye on the next ropes.
As I'm swinging to the next rope a red paintball splatters the rope. I grip the slick rope tightly but slide down to the bottom of the rope. Two people pass by ahead of me, the rest close in behind me. Without thinking I grab the leg of a red team member and yank him down. He falls 14 meters to the ground where he stays. I take his place beside Jetson.
We find the end of the maze, arm muscles burning. "Get behind cover, we can't charge in yet," I say sliding behind a sturdy cement barrier. Unslinging my Assault rifle I shoot the first red member that jumps onto the platform. He falls off of the platform, one down.
Red paintballs splatter all around me, covering the ground and barrier around me. I signal to Jetson to move forwards. He makes it to a barrier in front of him with only three paintball wounds. I dart over my cover and drop three red team members, receiving two wounds myself.
I'm just 14 yards away from the target. Red team is moving in, they have just 5 members. We have 4. "Jetson, cover my 6!" I command. He moves in and slides in next to me. "Marry, Jack, and Peckson, distract them," I say. They nod in unison and start unleashing their rounds.
Making sure the path is clear I make a risky move and charge the flag.
My legs power, I clock myself at about 20 MPH. I get to the target, skidding as I reach for the flag. Suddenly I fall, my legs buckling under pressure. I feel my legs snap, shattering under sudden breaking. A figure looms over me. I fall backwards, pain gripping my chest. Someone grabs the flag. "This is the last time you'll challenge me," Jackson snarls. He then proceeds in bashing me. Using his feet and hands. The rest of his team joins in, my bones seem to snap in all places. I'm immobilized. Jetson grabs the first red team member he sees and tries to force them off, he's drug down and beaten.
I hear hurried footsteps. Then the angry voices of UNSC ODST's. "Get down, down on the ground!" An ODST orders. The others drop to their knees, hands on their heads.
Blood pours from various wounds on my body. The very wind feels like swords slicing me. The ODST's prepare a stretcher and load me onto it. "He's got multiple shattered bones. A flattened lung, several wounds to the head. Possible broken neck, treat him carefully," he says. Blood pours into my eyes, my vision blurs. I can hear Chief Hokai chewing someone out, possibly Jackson. I hear a Falcon lowering and the ODST's loading me on. "Transferring academy Trainee to Intensive care unit at base alpha-zero. Prepare for lift off," I hear the pilot say.
The Falcon takes off smoothly. The last thing I see is the blurry vision of an ODST peering over me and trying to staunch the flow of a nasty cut above both of my eyes. "Hang in there Trainee, you'll make it," he says before I fade into the nothing.