6 Chapter 5
Trace had the worst headache of his life. He had just woken up on his highly uncomfortable bunk to the noise of snoring. Looking at his surroundings, Trace noticed that it was still pitch black, as the lights had not yet turned on for the "day". Not that there really was a day or night on the lonely asteroid training base.
Looking at his wristband, a glowing blue holographic display popping up, Trace saw it was only 4 AM. A long way to go until the start of training. Trace sighed. Since he had gotten to the base, he hadn't slept well, occupied with thoughts of his dead brother and parents.
His parents had died when he was 9, and it had rocked his world. His older brother, who was 13 at the time, had to take care of Trace from that moment on. After that, he and his brother became much closer, but both began dealing with their grief in their own ways.
His brother became more and more focused with physical training and so on, while Trace became obsessed with studying.
Eventually, Trace's brother joined the marines voluntarily, and Trace went to university. Fast forward a few years since then, and Trace's brother died in the same week as Trace's final exam. Obviously caught up in grief, he failed the exam by three points. And here he was.
It had been about three weeks since the start of marine training, and things only got more difficult. Every day since the first time they ran the course, more and more obstacles were added. At this point, there were numerous machine gun emplacements, barbed wire to crawl under, walls to climb over, and moving targets you have to shoot.
Not only this, but it all still had to be done in under 10 minutes. Now instead of no food for a day if you failed, you had to redo the course. Over and over, until your time was under 10 minutes.
However, for every day since the first day, Trace had somehow been getting faster. His newest record was 7 minutes and 32 seconds.
Trace was fastest every single time. His recruits had varying reactions, from envy and jealousy, to hatred and anger, to supportive.
Somehow, Trace had made over half the recruits his enemies. One in particular was the worst. Zane Minre. He had a gang of people who followed him like puppies, always looking for ways to please him.
It had been this way since, for whatever reason, Commander Westcott had named him squad leader over Trace. This annoyed him to no end, as he knew he was the better choice, but he accepted his commanders decision.
Zane made things worse for Trace every chance he got, for instance one day Commander Westcott told Zane to pick a recruit to help someone with cleaning the floor using a toothbrush. Zane, without hesitation, said "Sir, Trace Bellinger, sir."
Then he was set to help with nothing but a nod. That day was awful, mostly because of how badly his back ached from leaning down.
However, Trace did have to acknowledge that Zane was good. He came in second place every time in every activity. He organized things well.
Trace sighed. Ever since he had first found it, Trace had been using every possible free moment to repair the drone he had found. It was calming work, and allowed him to just… think.
Since Trace had until 7 AM before it was time to "wake up", he began thinking about his next move. He knew for sure that he was going to get the drone repaired at some point, but what would he do with it?
As Trace pondered this, time flew by. After an indiscernible amount of time, the lights turned on, and so began the daily wake up routine. Everyone was now able to get out of bed and get in uniform in the allotted amount of time.
As they walked towards the usual training area, the other recruits chatted amongst themselves. Some people tried to make idle conversations with Trace, but he dismissed them.
When they entered the wide open space, Commander Westcott was waiting for them. "Today you will begin to learn how to use a mechanized infantry suit! If you break these suits, you will be tried for treason! One of these suits is more valuable then all of you combined!"
As he did his usual pacing in front of the marines, he looked up towards a particular rack. "Alright, bring out the suits!"
The rack opened, revealing two dozen 8 feet tall suits, which had forearm mounted heavy pulse barrels. In addition, they looked to be extremely heavily armored.
Commander Westcott looked at Trace. "Who's going to be dumb enough to be first in using one?"
Trace volunteered immediately, with multiple other recruits following suit a few seconds later. "Trace Bellinger! You will be first!" Said Westcott.
"Sir, yes sir!" He said, approaching a suit. "Press the green button on the wrist pad to open the suit. Then just step backwards into it!"
As Trace did this, the front of the suit opened, revealing its interior. Stepping inside, the suit closed around him again. As with the vac suit, it squeezed him intensely for a few seconds, before relaxing. As Trace stood in darkness for a moment, he wondered if this was all an elaborate trap. Yes
Suddenly, a blue display came on in front of Trace's face, showing the outside world, along with his vital signs, communication status, ammunition levels, and a plethora of other things.
When trace tried to look around, the suit moved perfectly, feeling like it wasn't even there. "Whoa…" said Trace. As he looked around, he noticed the commander and all the recruits looking… up at him?
Trace wasn't short, but he wasn't tall. He was average. Thus it was a surprise that they looked short. "Take a step forwards, get used to the suit. It's not hard." Commander Westcott instructed.
Taking a step forwards, again Trace noticed it didn't feel like he was even wearing the suit. "The suit charges off of things like heat, so you shouldn't ever run out of power. Ammunition, it manufactures on the fly. These suits cost almost as much as a corvette. Don't lose them."
With that, he gestured, and the rest of the recruits got into the suits. They spent the rest of the day training with the suits. It turned out, the suit could keep a marine alive in terms of food and water almost forever.
The one thing the suits couldn't preserve is their sanity.