4 Chapter 3
Trace groaned in misery from the cold, solid mattress of his bunk. "Why can't they at least have normal mattresses?" Trace was complaining aloud, but only loud enough so that his new bunk mate could hear him.
They had been assigned bunks immediately after arrival. The recruits immediately got into the beds, completely exhausted from the journey there. Then they were informed that the bunks they had picked were their bunks for the rest of their time there.
His bunk mate, Damien Reed, hung his head down to look at Trace from the top bunk. "So how'd you end up here? I got drafted for failing my test."
"Same here." Trace said it as though it didn't bother him that he had failed, yet he wasn't fooling anyone.
Looking at his wristband, which they had all been given, a holographic display popped up, showing the time. "It's 2:00 AM??? Why the hell did I wake up?" Trace grumbled."Damien?"
Damien was already snoring from above him, his arm hanging off the edge.
Trace sighed, deciding to try and get to sleep again.
A few hours later and Trace was still laying there, fully awake. At that point, the door opened and an officer walked through.
"ALRIGHT, EVERYONE UP! UP UP UP!" The officer barked at the top of his lungs, his face turning beet red. "Anyone not out of bed and in uniform in 3 minutes will be punished!" As he said this, the officer slowly seemed to look at each and every one of them.
All but one person woke up groaning: Trace. Since he was already awake and had a head start, he jumped off the bed onto the cold, smooth floors. He began panicking, realizing that he had no clue where his uniform could be, until he saw two lockers next to his bed: His and Damien's.
Opening the locker with his name on it, he fumbled with the uniform for a second or two, before pulling it on.
A mere couple of seconds after he finished, the officer re-entered the room, this time with an actual marine following him. Trace looked around the room, and noted he was the only person out of bed and in uniform, and only half had even gotten out of bed.
The officer seemed very displeased by this, as he began shouting again, this time with his face turning almost purple. "What a useless bunch of idiots! You can't even get out of bed expect for…"
As he said this last part, he turned and stared at Trace questioningly. At first, he wondered what the officer wanted, until he realized that it was his name.
"Trace, sir." With this answer, the officer seemed appeased, and then turned back to the rest of the room.
"Except for Trace here! The rest of you, drop and give me 100 push-ups! Private Trace, you will show them how it's done! Oh, and my name is Commander Westcott." With a smirk on his face, the commander turned away and walked to the doorway.
"Well?" With a start, Trace dropped to the floor and began doing push-ups.
Wearing a smug look of satisfaction, Commander Westcott turned and looked at the rest of the marines. "Well? Get to it!"
With much grumbling and complaints, the rest of the recruits began doing push-ups.
After they had all finished the exercise, Commander Westcott and the marine following him, who Trace learned was named Gunners, led the recruits out into the immaculate silver hallways of the base.
As they walked down the empty corridors, Trace noticed that the air seemed almost stagnant, which he later learned was due to the air being recycled.
After what felt like hours of walking, but was only a few minutes, they arrived at a sleek metal door, which was guarded by two marines.
When the commander reached the door, he put his hand onto a hand scanner, which almost instantly prompted an announcement from it. "Westcott, Lawrence. Access granted."
The door slid open silently, leading to a vast room big enough to fit at least an entire dropship in it. As he walked into the room, Trace found himself awestruck by its contents:
The jaws of every recruit there dropped upon seeing the hundreds of racks upon racks of weapons. Each of them seemed to contain up to 50 marine pulse rifles, at least from what Trace could glean at a glance.
The commander turned around to face his recruits, spreading out his hands in a gesture of the room around him.
"Well recruits, welcome to the armory."
Commander Westcott walked up to the closest rack and pulled a pulse rifle and a power cell off of it, immediately smacking the power cell into the pulse rifle with a practiced ease.
Wearing his seemingly trademark scowl, he began explaining the weapon to the marines-to-be. "This is a marine standard pulse rifle. To use it, all you have to do is put in a power cell, flick off the safety, and apply pressure to the trigger. You will be given one pulse rifle. You do not need to worry about running out of charge, as one of these can spend over one year of non-stop shooting before needing a recharge."
After explaining a lot of specifics about the weapon and repeatedly telling of how important their rifles were, which Trace assumed was to try and imprint the knowledge into their brain forever, each marine was handed a disassembled pulse rifle.
Now somehow looking even more serious then before, Commander Westcott told them of the task to come. "You each will have 10 minutes to get to the shooting range, assemble the rifle, put nothing but 10 bullseyes in the target, and complete the course. Now, which of you is dumb enough to volunteer to run the course first?"
For about 10 seconds, no one said anything. Trace found the silence to be unbearable, and wanted to learn the course anyways, and so he stepped forwards.
"Sir, I'll do it, sir!" Trace attempted to seem stoic as he said this, but on the inside he was more nervous than on his first day at university.
"Well, good luck to you then. Go into that airlock over there and get a vacuum suit, and press the cycle button when you're ready to fail. The rest of you, come with me to the observation room and watch how he fails so you can do better."
Nervously, Trace looked around the room, finding what looked like an airlock and stepping into it. Seeing a few metal fiber mesh suits in the corner, Trace picked one up and put it in.
"The hell?!" Trace was caught by surprise as the suit tightened around him, squeezing harder and harder until Trace thought his bones would break, and then… nothing.
The suit relaxed, and adjusted to his body size perfectly, to the point where Trace felt like he wasn't wearing it.
"That's… new." Taking a few experimental steps around, he found the suit to be just as amazing. It was at that point that Trace noticed a screen on his left arm, and tapped it.
As a holographic display lit up, showing Trace's vitals, weight, height and so on, as well as a few buttons.
Ignoring the other buttons, Trace tapped a glowing red button labeled "helmet". When he pressed it, the button turned green. For a moment, nothing happened. Until suddenly, more fibers slid out of the collar of the suit, surrounding his head with the exception of his face, and once again squeezing incredibly hard, until again, relaxing.
Last of all, a faceplate slid over his uncovered face, sealing and lighting up with a display of many similar things to his arm screen.
"Whoa… the military really does keep all the good stuff for itself!"
Suddenly remembering where he was and what he was doing, Trace stepped over to a panel on the wall labeled "Cycle Airlock".
Pressing it, the door behind Trace leading inside the base closed, and a few seconds later the door in front of him opened, exposing the surface of the asteroid to him. Looking out, only awestruck by space for a moment, Trace discovered what looked like a path that had been made in the asteroid.
He suddenly remembered that he was on a timer, and began sprinting. Back on Earth, Trace had been on the university track team. That life may be gone now, but he thankfully still had his old skills.
For a good couple of minutes, Trace saw nothing, but noticed that he was now in a valley. Suddenly, a beeping noise sounded in Trace's ear, and something whizzed past him.
Dropping to the ground, Trace briefly wondered what was happening, before another something whizzed past him. This time, he noted it was a bullet. He was being shot at.
Following the path of the bullet back to the source, he saw an automated machine gun mounted in the valley wall.
Standing up again, Trace ran up to the wall it was mounted on and pressed against it, hoping with all his might that the turret couldn't look straight down.
Waiting a few seconds, no more bullets were shot at him, so he began making his way along the valley wall, pressing himself flat against it.
It took Trace a very tense minute, but he got out of sight of the turret, and continued sprinting, this one with what looked like a shooting range ahead of him. He was there!
Reaching the range, he began assembling the rifle, only taking about 30 seconds before he aimed at the target and fired exactly 10 carefully aimed shots straight into the bullseye, before continuing on the path.
After another minute or so, Trace saw a rover ahead of him with someone sitting in it.
Reaching the rover, panting and out of breath, Trace looked up at the figure, wondering who they were. They were wearing a seemingly identical suit to Trace, making them unidentifiable.
That is, until Trace noticed a hologram floating above them on his display. The person was Commander L. Westcott, according to the display.
Panting, Trace saluted him as he was meant to do. "At ease, recruit. You completed the course in ten minutes and three seconds. For failing, you may not eat until tomorrow. Get in the rover."
Head hanging down, Trace trudged up to the rover, climbing into the passenger seat, before they began driving in the direction of the base.
It was gonna be a long day, Trace could tell already.