When we Risk
Warning: I would like to warn viewers that this contains violent and sensitive subjects that may be disturbing to some viewers. The subject at hand has touched the entire globe and I understand that this topic is seen differently by everyone that has or is currently being affected by it. I kindly ask that the matter be dealt with in a mature and respectable manner as it is important and pertains to the future of our society as a human race, not as individual countries.
~When we Risk~
The road gave us time to think. Lord knows no one had really thought this out. We were in the same boat as many; all of us were silently hoping for the best. We hoped to make it out alive. Everyone had families, all of which we wished to return to. Given the choice, I wondered if anyone sane would willingly leave their family for this. I doubted it.
Reyner's small body convulsed violently as he struggled to take another step from home. His emerald eyes seemed hazy, distant even. I nudged his hand, looking up at him as I did. His sandy colored hair clung to his forehead from all of his nervous sweating. He bent over, scratching behind my ear for a moment.
"Thanks for coming Captain," He hummed quietly, running his fingers along my back. My pink tongue flopped from my mouth, and standing on my back legs, I proceeded to lick his cheek. Usually, he would smile at the gesture of commitment, but instead a soft frown rolled across his face. Seeing this, my gaze darted to the floor, my ears pinning against my head.
He's missing home… looks like I don't make much of a difference.
I kicked up dirt as he sighed. Silence was another companion in this journey, and my eyes scanned the area for the registration base. My shoulders hunched over, mirroring master's appearance. A frown rolled across my face and I looked up at him.
"Captain, please don't look at me like that," He muttered, stuffing his hands into his blue jean pockets. I rolled my eyes, huffing out a fireball as I grumbled.
Well this is what you look like…so if you don't like it, change it.
Reyner sighed, picking up a nearby stick from the road. He tapped it against his shoes, poking my ribs with the stick playfully. My gaze darts to him, my left ear flicking to his voice.
"You wanna play? Huh, Cap, you wanna play fetch!?" I glanced to the side, seeing Reyner attempt to smirk, much like used to before his father left. It had been a while since I had seen him smirk, let alone smile. But he'd pucker up his lips, cooing as if I were some precious toy.
"Go get the stick, Captain! Go get it!" My eyes could see the white fortress was the only building that, ironically, had yet to be destroyed. But my attention had been drawn away.
I'm only doing this so you smile…
I quickly stopped in place, wagging my tail in the air. My back was raised as I lowered my head and paws to the floor, showing Reyner I was excited to play. With that, he threw the stick, my eyes trailed it to its final resting place as I ran to get it, barking all the way there.
I turned back, gripping the stick firmly in my mouth. Reyner had bent over, slapping his legs to signal a return. But I huffed, holding my head up high. I trotted it back to him, waiting for him to reach out and grab the stick. As he did, I pulled back, wagging my tail furiously. He let out a quick chuckle.
"Cap, give back the stick!" And he chased me, in a failed attempt to catch me. My paws merely trotted to keep ahead and he huffed as he struggled to keep up.
"Captain," He panted. I tilted my head, sitting as Reyner called. My eyes quickly cast toward the white building. We were right outside, yet no one else seemed to be around.
"Give back the stick you silly growlithe!" He whined. I blinked, turning my attention back to my boy. I dropped the stick onto the floor, barking at him.
Running is good for you, so get in gear and run.
I barked playfully, wagging my tail to coax him. But he quickly stopped. I leapt for the stick, thinking he was only making that face to trick me.
You are not going to get this stick without a fight.
I cast a long glance toward master's expression. My eyes narrowed at how peculiar his expression was. His tan face became scarce of all color. His emerald eyes seemed cold, frightened, and cautious even as he stared out into the distance. I could have sworn he had seen a ghost and turned back to bump into someone's leg.
I looked up seeing a very tall man. He was dressed in black attire as he waited outside the build. I scrambled to my feet, seeing Reyner dash beside me. I gulped as I looked this man over. His silver eyes stared at me. I let my tongue flop out of my mouth, showing him I had meant no harm earlier.
But the frown that rolled across his face immediately revoked that action. I sat, glanced up to Reyner who stood speechless. The man stood tall, his skin slightly wrinkled and his eyes looked sunken in with age. He had puffed out his chest, inhaling deeply as he looked over Reyner.
"I-I'm terribly sorry, Sir. My dog didn't mean to bump into you," Reyner politely apologized, getting choked up toward the end. Reyner scratched the back of his sandy colored hair, quietly chuckling nervously. My ears fell flat against my head. I gulped, looking over the man once more, and he did not look happy.
"A lack of discipline I assume. I saw you two playing around earlier," I cringed, backing up behind master's leg. The man quickly looked me over, his eyes narrowing on me before his gaze darted back to Reyner.
"And he is frightened of strangers, a trait that is copied after witnessing his trainer," The man spat in an icy calm voice. I quickly unsheathed my claws, my once wagging tail drooping.
Hey listen! I am not afraid of you!
I barked, a growl slipping through my orange muzzle. The man's silver gaze quickly shot to me. Distain rolled off his tongue as he clicked his tongue.
"Your dog is a reflection of your character, his cowardice reflects poorly on you." I grit my teeth, stepping forward. I barked as Reyner balled up his fist.
"H-He was just startled; that's all Sir. We didn't know anyone else was out here," He replied, sighing as he released his balled up fists. I sat, biting my tongue as I straightened up.
"That will get you killed. But if that really is the case, we should have no problems from now on," The man hissed, turning his back.
"I-It won't happen again Sir," Reyner muttered, patting my head. Reyner shook his head as his emerald eyes looked me over. My tongue flopped from my mouth as I looked back to the sharply dress man, who merely gave us a final look over his shoulder.
"It had better not if you both are going to be in my army." And with that final statement, the man walked away. I quickly looked to Reyner; his face became a sickly pale.
T-That was the commander!?
I gulped, shaking away the new feeling of dread. We had probably made a horrible first impression, and that look on Reyner's face told me I was right. But regardless, I nudged him to continue on into the building.
Come on, we need to register.
Reyner and I walked inside the building, walking toward a mahogany desk. The front desk sat, a young blonde typing away furiously at the typewriter. Besides the patter of my paws, the typing filled the room.
"Excuse me ma'am. My dog and I are here to enlist in…the army," The blonde looked up from her desk, her serious expression failing to change. I noticed her icy blue eyes glance to a clip board, taking it in hand before she handed it to Reyner.
"Canine units must go through basic training before they are allowed to specialize." She stated coldly. Reyner gripped the clipboard in his hands, shaking as his eyes looked over the writing.
"Have a seat over there, and fill out this. Basic training will determine where you and your dog will be place. Good luck," She replied, sending us off on our way. I sat as Reyner looked over the paper again. My eyes scanned the paper, reading what he was supposed to answer.
It was like applying for a job. Reyner's young age made him a liability on the battlefield. He was yet to be molded, and that could have been a blessing here, or a curse. He was young, inexperienced in many if not every field.
What are the odds of them teaching you how to perform a certain task?
His gaze scrolled down the paper and he breathed out a soft sigh of relief. He rubbed his hand along my head and breathed.
"I can pick a specialty. They can teach me, Captain I can pick to be away from the front lines." He said gleefully. His voice seemed so joyous, and I leaned against his leg to reassure I was there.
That's great, Jade would be pleased.
Reyner gulped; his Adam's apple moving up and down as his grip became tighter on the clipboard. His pupils constricted and he shut his eyes as he turned his head to me. My eyes ran along the bottom of the standard questions, seeing where his writing ended.
Do you have a canine?
He had answered yes. I wasn't surprised, but the follow up question caught my attention immediately.
Should you have a canine; the previous choice on specialty will become void. Specialties in canine units differ from the normality of the individual army. Handlers and their canines will train in all areas before being placed into a specific role. Roles are determined by performance of the individuals and are subject to change.
Our eyes scrolled along the choices. Finding there was a lot more to war then just fighting. They were looking to put their soldiers on top, and from the looks of it, prepared them with extensive training.
Explosive Detection and Tracking
Scouting and Sentry Duty
Search and Rescue Services
How long? How long would this take? How long would this prolong the inevitable deployment to the front lines? Nothing was set in stone and Reyner and I could easily be placed on the front lines to detect bombs.
That would be the end of that.
"And here's the second part of that catch, Cap," I perked my head, looking to the paper once more.
Priorities are given to those who perform into the top ten of their class. Those few will get the career of their choosing.
Oh, that's not so bad. A soft whine escaped my mouth as I glanced up to Reyner, his emerald eyes continued to scan the paper. He quickly pursued his lips and I looked back onto the paper, knowing that was a sign for trouble.
Failing to perform at the top of their class will result in forced evolution, no exceptions.
My tail immediately pinned between my legs. I crouched closer to the floor, my paws balling up tightly as my ears pinned against my head. My heart began to pound against the walls of my ribs. I whipped my head away from the clipboard, hearing Reyner sigh.
They can do that? No. They can't do that. Not to me. I can't evolve. I won't evolve.
Reyner wrapped his arms around my furry chest and belly, picking me up and placing me on his lap. I melted into his black hoodie as I sat on his jean-covered lap. His shaky fingers ran along my spine. A blissful tingle took me away for a moment; I shut my eyes, letting myself drift away from this nightmare.
"I know… I know you got more than you bargained for. But don't worry, Captain. You don't have to worry about that because we'll be number one of our class. There is no reason to worry about evolution okay," He whispered softly. I shut my eyes tightly. Reyner's chin sat on top of my head sighing sadly. The clipboard sat beside him.
"We are going to be fine. We're going to make it back…and everything will be the way it was before," I could only imagine all of the things we would have to do. We would fight for a cushion, for a better chance of survival.
I hope so.
Reyner stood, holding me in one arm and the clipboard in the other. He gave it to the women; she looked it over, her white teeth nibbling on her bottom lip. She looked up at us and gave us a tired smile. She pointed to the door.
"The Commander is going to love you, Mr…uh," Her cold voice rang through my ears as she acknowledged the man from before. Her blue eyes darted to the clipboard, her red painted nail running along Reyner's answers.
"Braxton," Reyner finished. The women's eyes darted back up. A frown rolled across her lips and she let an annoyed groan escape her lips.
"Through there, good luck," And the blonde pointed, shooing us away. Reyner and I stood by the door and he looked at me cautiously. He drew in a deep breath, his emerald eyes looking me over one last time. I nodded, my eyes locking forward.
"Okay Pal, let's go," And I followed him in. There stood many others, all of which had dogs themselves. Many canine-like Pokémon were there, all fighting for the same goal. Reyner and I weaved between the mass of people, pushing our way to the front of the group. There stood the man from before, who now stood tall and even more intimidating from before. He smirked, clicking his tongue together.
"Alright, play time is over. Your sorry asses belong to me now, understand?" His voice whipped the canines into submission right there, seeing as we all sat and listened intently. I glanced up to see Reyner gulp, his fingers curling together nervously as he stared blankly at the general.
"You will do as I command, when I command it, anyone that doesn't will be immediately punished, do I make myself clear?" Movies often portray what you are supposed to say when you are given an order from someone in authority. It's a sign of respect. But the salute of respect came from all corners of the room, and sounded off, dysfunctional, afraid even. Regardless, Reyner shouted, glancing around and copying others and their salutes. None were definite, all jumbled up in a mess.
"That salute was sloppy, pathetic, weak!" The commander bellowed, hissing through his clenched jaw. I gulped, knowing this man did not have a humorous bone in his body.
"I do not tolerate weak. You shall be trained, evaluated…hell some of you may even die here," I gulped. This man can't be serious right? I wanted to believe that, but that look in his eye told me otherwise.
"Make it through here, and the horrible world that you are about to face will seem like a giant cake walk." The room remained silent, and I blinked, my eyes shifting around the room.
"I am Commander Thane; you will refer to me as captain. I am here to teach you, to evaluate you and your canine companions. This is not a joke, and it will not be treated as such," This time the room remained silent. I could hear a distance cough, and silently hoped that the person swallowed his tongue.
"Now line up, its inspection time," He hissed. I stood beside Reyner, pushing our way into a line in the middle of the room. I could see down the line, seeing the commander walk down the line. His steel grey eyes scanned all of cadets, tracing them for weakness. He would occasionally pull a canine out of the line.
As he passed us, his eyes darted to me. With a snap of his fingers, he signaled for me to step beside the other Pokémon. I gulped, puffing out my chest in response. He hummed, walking down the line. I stood across from Reyner, seeing his emerald eyes glossed over in fear. I gulped.
Am I in trouble master?
"You are part of the 117th canine core. These are your Pokémon. They will be trained, molded, prepared, because if it comes down to it, they will lay down their lives for you." As he addressed, I glanced down the rows.
The line consisted of poochyena, herdier, and electrike. These Pokémon stood along the line in great numbers. One of each respectively stood beside me. We were on display, and I expected to see many of each of our species among the ranks. But my eyes failed to see another growlithe, or even a houndour for that matter. My ears flattened against my head. I had expected more of my own species.
"I apologize, Growlithe. You see, your species along with houndour have often failed to multiply in great numbers. In these recent years, they have shown up less and less," I gulped, my ears flattening against my skull. The commander stood before me, hissing to the others to make an example.
"But not to worry, you shall not be an outcast, for my partner shall join the training. He is an alpha after all. He can show you rookies how a real military dog should perform," My eyes widen, hearing the commander's footsteps grow closer. I can hear the patter of paws followed by a loud, vicious bark. He trailed past me, following his master closely before standing beside me proudly.
There stood the commander's partner. He looked strong, capable, sturdy; everything that these alphas seemed to represent. I noticed the shine that flowed across his fur. It was black, an orange underbelly and a muzzle to match. His bottom fangs looked as sharp as his cold stare. And a sharp glare shined from his silver anklets and silver rib protectors. He let out a short snort as his eyes matched my gaze. His gaze was intimidating, but I didn't dare show weakness.
"Now that I have shown you your canine partners, I will evaluate you. You and your partner's stats will be evaluated and at the end, we will see who has grown, and who our alphas are. Good luck gentlemen," The commander stepped aside from the five of the display Pokémon and we walked back to our handlers. A smirk rolled across the commander's face and I could feel my heart drop. This is going to be a living hell isn't it?
As I walked back, Reyner quickly ran his fingers behind my ears, signaling a good job. I sighed in relief, wagging my tail to his delight.
"Form a line of pairs. It's time we see what you are made of," Reyner and I exchanged a worrisome glance. This man meant business as well as his dog. But Reyner's worry in his emerald eyes faded as we walked through the door. It was replaced by determination. He was determined to keep me from evolving; I was determined to keep my promise; and we were determined to make it back in one piece.
If we have learned anything from this experience, it is that we can't hope to get anywhere without risking it all.