Chapter 12 : Bad Start to Training
The distance from the Dorm Cluster to the Parade Grounds by road was 4 km. It took Dusk half an hour to run at her full speed. The officer did not let her slow down. She was not used to running so much and by the time she reached the Parade Ground, she was ready to fall off to the ground. Luckily, her new cross-trainer shoes seem to be far better than what she had ever used, so it was a little easier.
However, stopping and resting on reaching Parade Ground was not an option. The hover-bike stopped at the edge of the ground and the officer who had brought Dusk to the grounds jogged up along with her to one of the groups undergoing training. They stopped behind a massive officer who was shouting orders at a group of cadets undergoing their training exercises.
Probably sensing their presence, the man in brown camouflage uniform gave a series of orders and turned to look at Dusk. His face had a hard and harsh look, that was typical of Military Trainers. He looked at Dusk critically and with a look of disgust clearly reflecting. He nodded to the officer besides her, who then saluted and went off to do something else.
The trainer then gave Dusk his full attention. “So, are you one of those spoilt rich kids who think that all they need to sleep, and problems will go away? Or are you of the opinion that the rules do not apply to you?”
Dusk paled. This was a bad start. She had obviously annoyed that trainer, who was both a Professor and a Military Officer. She did not want to be on the bad side of either!
She tried to clarify “No Sir, I am not a rich kid …”
“Oh, then tell me, why do you think the rules do not apply to you? Why were you not here at 7 am when you were required to?”
“Sir, I am very sorry, I overslept.”
The trainer looked at her with even more derision. “Overslept, did you? So very nice and thoughtful! Have you heard of things like wake-up alarms? Or, poor thing, you had some maid to wake you up and get you ready for school when you were at home …”
Dusk was even more embarrassed. She had a perfect track record in every study previously. And now, on the first day, at the first class, she was marked as a slacker. She had to try and rectify the situation.
“No Sir, that was never my intention. I did set the alarm but for some reason, I went back to sleep after I switched it off…”
But the trainer did not let her finish. “ENOUGH! I am not here to listen to more nonsense. I do not understand why you people sign up for voluntary training just because your parents want you to or you think it’s going to be cool! Or you think some cute boys are coming for training!”
“But I didn’t, Sir, Sargent Staton …”
“SARGENT STATON IS NOT GOING TO PROTECT YOU ON THE TRAINING GROUNDS!” He shouted at her. “Now, forget all the pretty things you thought will happen. You signed up, you cannot cancel it. And if you do not follow the rules, or do not come on time, do not obey the orders, you will be liable for punishment. The punishment can extend to being put in confinement for up to a week, so don’t try my patience. NOW GO AND START!”
Dusk stepped back in fright. No one had ever shouted at her like that before. This man was not even ready to let her explain. She was not here voluntarily! But saying anything more would only make the matters worse. She just nodded and looked down.
“Sargent Bear!! Take this kid over to that side. Get her to do 300 sit-ups, followed by 100 push ups and then 1,000 same-spot skips. Check her endurance, she is here for the first time. And finish all of that by the time Team F finishes the warmup and let her join them for the run.” Saying so the trainer turned away from Dusk and walked off.
Sargent Bear did not look like someone who would have sympathy either. He waved calling her over to where he as standing, and then the two of them jogged another 200 metres to a ‘Trainers Station’ that seem to have been built to one side. Once there, he asked for her name and Citizen-Id and entered that into an AI interface that was built on the station table. He then nodded and turned to her.
“Give me your wearable, and any communicators and tablets you have.”
“I said give me your all your wearable, your phones and any other gadget you have. You have a problem understanding what is said or you have a problem obeying?”
Dusk quickly took off her Sixth-Sense and handed it over and said, “This is all I have Sir!”
Bear took the Sixth-Sense and looked her over, as if he had a visual scanner to identify all gadgets she may have. Perhaps he had one … who knows what tech these guys have developed.
The Sargent threw the Sixth-Sense roughly on to the Trainer-Station, as Dusk’s heart leaped into her throat. It was the only one she had, she didn’t even have a communicator anymore. If this broke or got damaged, her life would be unbearable. But the hard top of the Trainer-Station Desk suddenly turned black and soft, as if it was made of cloth. The wearable fell on it, was absorbed and the AI reported – “One Wearable Computer, Citizen ID - 9572 6793 8169 / 02306009 : Arcadia, taken in custody. No other equipment submitted. File Closed.”
The black cover folded into itself and disappeared into the station while the top became hard yellow again.
Dusk heaved a sigh of relief. But before she could do anything, Sergeant Bear clapped a thin, flat bracelet on her left hand. The bracelet’s contour changed and became a tight fit. It was cold and metallic to touch but she did not know of any metal that could mould itself at room temperature. Then it glowed in red letters: TempVol-2027-4462.
“That is your ID for this training and for all purposes connected to the Military.” Bear explained in a bored voice as it was obvious, he had said many times to trainees. He walked over to a storage box on the right and Dusk followed. He took out a set of bulging rings from there and handed it over to her. There were 4 differing sizes.
“Put them on, two on your wrist and two on your ankles.”
She did and immediately regretted her action. Not that she had an option. These were obviously body weights. Her hands felt as if they were stretched downwards! Bear started jogging over further right and she was forced to follow. It was difficult and painful. How can someone run with such thing on the limbs!
Sargent Bear Stopped. He turned, spread his legs and stood with his hands on his hips. Then he said “Ok, now 300 sit-ups. And do it fast. I want it completed in 7½ Minutes. Start!!”
Dusk stared at him in dismay. 300? with these weights even? and in what – 7 minutes? Crap!
But she did not have an option. She started. After she reached 50, she felt her legs hurting. She had never had to do so much exercise in one day. Somehow, she managed to reach 100 and her muscles on hands and legs were crying out in protest. She looked up to see if there was any chance of taking a rest in the middle. Apparently not…
At 150, her legs started to tremble. She was not sure how much longer she could continue. Luckily at that point, Sargent Bear signalled her to stop. She sat on the grass in relief. But that was short lived …
On seeing her sitting, the Sargent shouted at her to get up. She was expected to stand, not sit, apparently. Shit! Why can’t they just clarify things? She got up unsteadily, hoping her legs would support her.
Somehow, she managed…
Just then a female officer came up to where they were standing. Sargent Bear immediately turned and saluted. She returned the salute.
“Who is this Sargent Bear? What did she do for you to personally take her out?”
“Sargent Major Cole, this is …” he looked at his wearable and continue “Dusk Hale, voluntary trainee, but not Cadet. She did not come to training although it was scheduled, and the Staff Sargent sent someone to bring her here.”
“Her first day, right?”
“300 sit-ups, 100 push-ups and 1,000 skips. She has finished 150 sit-ups, and behind schedule.”
“And you stopped? You are feeling sorry for her?” the voice sounded amused.
“No Ma’am, her vitals are elevated, she will collapse if I let her continue. I gave her one of the wrist bands monitors that Master Luke Jones gave us this morning. They are amazing monitors”
Dusk coloured a little when she heard Luke’s name, but quickly controlled herself before they noticed. Is he called ‘Master’? What is his speciality? Martial Arts? Maybe he is master at riding hover-bikes.
The Sargent Major nodded after seeing the screen display. The graph was pretty enlightening. This girl may not have stamina and completely untrained, but she seemed to be recovering fast enough. Perhaps she had a hard but active physical life in her home before she came to the university.
“Well, don’t put her in the hospital. She is not a volunteer, not in the real sense, by the way. She is nominated by Brigadier Thompson. She is a student-consultant for the Military and therefore needs to be trained properly. She has zero prior experience in Military Training, and she is starting 2 weeks late.”
She then turned to Dusk, “Where are you from, Student?”
Dusk stood stiffly, like what she had seen the other ‘Cadets’ doing and hoped it was proper and respectful. She did not know Military Ranks, but a Sargent Major would definitely be higher than a Sargent.
“Ma’am, I am from Arcadia Province, Village of Longburn in Tarq District. South-West Zone.”
The Sargent Major turned to Bear. “She will take time to acclimatise from dry hot desert to our comparatively humid climate. Change her routine. Take her with Team K, but initially reduce her numbers till you see her getting fitter. Add half hour of Gym to her evening schedule before she returns to the dorm, so her muscles start to get stronger. After a week, take her for weapons training.”
Then she turned to Dusk, “Work hard, don’t slack. And if you are ever late again, Sargent Bear will run you to the ground with excessive numbers, even if your vital signs shoot through the roof.”
Then she turned and walked away.
Dusk decided that she needed to get better quickly. She did not know what the old Brigadier had in mind for her, but obviously there was a pattern to the madness. He had apparently told the Sargent Major about her, which is why she got some reprieve.
“I am ready to continue, Sargent,” she said immediately deciding to take the initiative before Bear gave her fresh orders, “I am sorry for my inability to meet your standards, but I promise to try harder.”
Bear shook his head. Good to see a civilian making efforts. Maybe she was not a spoilt brat if the Brigadier is taking her as a student-consultant. He was not the person to do favours. Even the top of the Noble Families could not force him to do anything for them. He would just walk off while they are talking if he did not like their request. Even the Emperor is said to be on first names terms with him.
He looked at Dusk and shook his head. “No, do 100 push ups instead.”
Dusk bend down, then put her hands in the front and went parallel to the ground, like she had seen kids do in school and on the rare occasion she went to the gym. Then she let her hands relax, intending to go downwards, but she miscalculated what her muscles could do. She went flat to the ground, with her chin hitting the ground hard…
Bear gave an incredulous look and said “Ok, what are you sleeping on the ground for? Push up!”
Dusk grimaced and pushed up but did not manage to move up. She tried a couple of time, but she could barely move a few inches up.
“Why are your knees touching the ground, keep them straight!” He bellowed in anger.
She managed to take her knees off the ground and whatever height she had achieved, went for a toss and she was back with all of her front body on the ground and her toes on the ground and only her knees slightly up …
Bear shook his head in amazement. What was this girl doing? Had she never done a push-up? He shouted another time and then put his shoe beneath her stomach and pulled her up.
Dusk was shocked! Then he removed his feet from beneath her and she almost fell back. Her biceps screamed in protest, but she stayed up somehow. Then Bear asked her to lower herself. She tried to come down slowly but fell back. Bear quickly put his foot below her again so she does not touch the ground. Then he took it off.
“Do this correctly again!”
Her arms shook, she struggled to stop her knees from bending, but they touched the ground. She quickly pulled them up and pushed herself up, somehow. And holding position for 3 seconds, she lowered them again. After 5 push-ups, she collapsed to the ground.
Bear shook his head in disgust. Didn’t these civilians learn anything? He called to one of the older cadets who was running past them. The cadet came and stood in front of Sargent Bear and saluted to him.
Bear turned to Dusk “What time does your class get over today?”
Dusk somehow managed to push herself up so she could turn her head to look at the Sargent. “At 6:30 pm sir.”
Bear said to the cadet standing before him. “Who is likely to be in the gym at 6:30 in the evening today?”
“I will be there, Sir. And Squid and his team are generally in there at that time.”
“Tell Squid that this civilian volunteer will be there at 6:45 pm and he needs to teach her how to do push-ups. Properly.”
The cadet looked down and saw Dusk and smiled. He felt sorry for her but knew it would be good fun to teach her how to exercise. She did seem cute, perhaps he can convince Squid to allow him to teach her instead. So, he quickly nodded, saluted and ran off to find Squid.
Bear bent down and gave Dusk a hand to stand up.
“You have a long way to go” he growled at her. “Can you skip? or does that also have to be taught?”
Dusk tried giving him a dirty look but failed. The front of her uniform was covered with brown dust and stray grass. She knew she looked pathetic. And she may not know how to do push ups properly but skipping, every girl learned when they were small.
“Do 250 skips, let me see. Wait, take a 10 min gap. Go to that pink booth and ask the AI to give you an Orange Hydrate.”
Dusk looked at the automated dispensing booth about 300 meters away. She managed to drag herself to there and asked for the drink. It came in a paper cup. But it was surprisingly refreshing. As she stood having it, a number of cadets came and took cups of the same.
So, she was not the only one having a problem.