Chapter 5, Lunch, Lessons, Dinner, RepeatMature

Chapter Five

Lunch, Lessons, Dinner, Repeat

June 26th 2140, Top secret training facility on the Roman I space station

11:28 A.M.

            "You're not going to get in trouble sirs, for defending us?" Margaret asked Connor and Dale.

            "No," Connor replied. "They sexually assaulted you first, so being trainers at this training facility, we have the authority to deal with them however we want, whether that be kicking them off the station or even pressing charges. But it would be pretty cruel to kick someone off this station, even if they're just a bunch of douche bags, so we took the easy route and made it a fight. The political route requires paperwork too."

            "Yeah, no thanks," Dale agreed that paperwork wasn't preferable.

            "Okay sir," Margaret smiled. Arden brought the chopper to the plateau above the main facility. They landed and entered the chamber through the watchtower, then headed to a mess hall for lunch.

            Sandwiches, grilled chicken, peas, green beans, salad, potato chips, juice, sports drinks, and tea. Man, people know how to eat on this station, Brian thought to himself as he and the rest of them grabbed plates and trays.

            "Rookies, no chips or tea for you guys. Too much salt, and both are dehydrating," John limited them.

            "Yes sir," the rookies replied. They grabbed platefuls of food and sat down at a table together, this time with all rookies next to their instructors. Even though the relationships between the rookies and Vapor Team was still shaky at best, they already had a deeper understanding of each other over the past few hours, and the day wasn't even half over yet.

            "So what's next sirs?" Brian asked Vapor Team.

            "Next, we go to the armory, grab a standard issue carbine and sidearm, and test your aim," Arden answered. Viktor cracked a slight smile at hearing that. Everyone noticed and was shocked.

            "Whoa, don't get too excited there Steam," Connor joked.

            "Is that a smile I see?" Brian chimed in. They laughed and Viktor actually showed a slight grin.

            "So if we need to cheer Steam up, now we know to just give him a gun," Arden teased. The rookies were starting to understand Vapor Team's teaching methods. They seemed to get along with the rookies, so long as they did what they were told and performed at a more than adequate level. But if they performed lower than their expectations, Vapor Team didn't stand for it at all.

            They finished their lunch. Victoria ate the most out of all of them. All eight of them headed to the armory and grabbed carbines and pistols, four magazines each. They took the chopper they recently used to fly to a gun range that was a couple of miles away from the gym, but on the same mountain ridge and at the same elevation.

            It seemed tedious to have to travel such distances just to make it to where they needed to go train, but the scenery of the training grounds made up for it all. Clear blue water, rich green grass, and sun sizzled sandy beaches captured their eyes while they traveled from place to place.

            Arden brought the chopper to a landing pad just outside the gun range. They entered and claimed four firing lanes. Each rookie shot very accurately, to Vapor Team's surprise. Vapor Team knew they could still do better, and naturally acted very displeased with even the small mishaps in their performances in order to keep them striving to try harder. After they shot all the ammo they brought, they returned to the main facility.

            They finally met up with other soldiers that were training as well, and history lessons followed. Battle strategies and wars of the past were discussed. Vapor Team didn't lead these sessions, and instead, listened intently with the rookies as well. Gun maintenance practice, studying vehicle schematics, introduction to advanced hand to hand combat, understanding and using their own armor suits to their full capabilities. So much training and so many lessons filled the gap between lunch and dinner. Every rookie showed fault in some areas more than others, just like Margaret and Victoria struggled with cardio and muscle training. Each soldier of Vapor Team scolded their rookies accordingly.

            At last, it was 5:30 P.M. and dinner came. Vapor Team, and very worn out rookies, gathered in one of the mess halls one last time.

            Brisket, corn on the cob, green bean casserole, potatoes, rolls, pulled pork, juice, more sports drinks, and surprisingly there was beer too. Vapor Team and the rookies were grabbing their food from the serving line. When the rookies made it to the drinks, they looked at the beer and almost passed it up. They figured Vapor Team wouldn't want them drinking it.

            Dale and Arden swiped a couple of beers for themselves, however. The rookies looked at each other with smirks on their faces. If they did it, we can too, they thought to themselves. Only Margaret didn't grab a beer to drink. They all sat down and dug in to their food. They were halfway done with their meals when John finally addressed them again.

            "At ease, rookies," John told them. "Our training is done for the day. Today is the only day that we will finish this early. We're ending early so that you four can have some free time to work on whatever you lacked in today."

            "Yes sir," the rookies replied in unison. They all finished their dinners and Vapor Team left.

            "What a day," Brian remarked.

            "You can say that again," Victoria agreed as she rubbed her eyes.

            "Boy, this is going to suck if every day is like this one," Margaret moaned. They looked at Viktor, expecting him to say something.

            "What?" Viktor wondered why they were looking at him.

            "Anything to say at all?" Margaret asked him.

            "No," Viktor muttered. Awkward silence fell upon them.

            "Well, I'm gonna go find a treadmill up at the gym. I think it's clear that everyone knows I need to," Victoria humbly told them. "Catch you all at the barrack." Victoria left.

            "See you soon Haze," Brian waved. "I'm going to check out the recreation center. See you guys later." Brian stood up and left the mess hall.

            Viktor clasped his hands under his chin and rested his head on them with his elbows on the table. Margaret peeked at him through the corner of her eye. She hadn't noticed before, but Viktor was a very attractive man. He had a chiseled face with gorgeous deep black hair, glinting eyes, and lips that surprisingly had a welcoming softness to them. Margaret suddenly found herself with a tiny tugging attraction to the man.

            "Any reason why you're staring at me?" Viktor asked Margaret not looking at her, with eyes facing forward.

            "Oh, uh, no," Margaret sputtered. "No reason, Steam." She noticed his eyebrows drop just slightly lower in to a frown. Ugh, I'm so stupid. Now he probably thinks I'm a creep, Margaret thought to herself. Viktor finally turned his head and faced Margaret.

            "If you need to know something, just ask," Viktor told her with unintentionally mesmerizing eyes.

            "O-Okay," Margaret stuttered out with a shy grin. "Well, I'll might have a few questions. How old are you?"

            "That's too personal for our status in this unit," Viktor replied bluntly.

            "But you said just ask," Margaret said, trying to sound innocent.

            "Perhaps I should have said I may not be willing to answer all of your questions."

            "Okay, well then where did you grow up?"

            "Balashikha."

            "Bala-what?"

            "Balashikha. It's a small town just a few miles east of Moscow."

            "Cool! I grew up in Oklahoma, all my life. It's in the United States. I watched the news about the Great Civil War closely. It's so crazy to think that Vapor Team played such a large role in the Red Legion's defeat and those are the guys that are training us!"

            Viktor only nodded slowly.

            "You can talk you know. You don't have to be so quiet."

            Viktor stared at Margaret for a couple of seconds and finally responded, "thank you."

            "No problem," Margaret said with a warming smile, attempting to be open and kind to Viktor with hopes to make him attracted to her as well.

            "What do you know about Vapor Team?" Viktor was actually talking.

            "Well, probably just what everybody else knows right? They're bio-genetically enhanced super soldiers who helped ensure the Freedom Knights' victory in the Great Civil War. They're forged with excellent combat expertise. No one knows their real names though."

            "You don't know their names?" Viktor asked.

            "Nope," Margaret answered. Viktor nodded his head. "Hey, since we have some free time to do whatever, do you wanna get on the plateau above us and watch the sun set?"

            Viktor raised an eyebrow at hearing that. "Don't you think we can spend our time more valuably elsewhere?" he inquired.

            "Um, I guess," Margaret moaned in a sad tone. "But we won't get many more opportunities for free time like this. What do you say?" Can this guy not take a hint? Margaret thought to herself.

            What's with this girl? Viktor wondered. "Fine," he gave in with a blunt remark.

            "Yay!" Margaret jumped up and speed walked to the stairwell. Viktor had to jog to keep up. They got on top of the plateau and walked to the edge. Just below and behind them was the blast door to the main facility.

            They sat down on the rocky cliff wall with their feet dangling off the edge. It was a terrifying sight to anyone who was afraid of heights. The water was still and looked as smooth as glass. The orange sun was just a few minutes away from passing behind and under the station, so that it would emerge again for a short duration on the other side, then disappear behind the Earth.

            The training grounds were of course, behind a large mountain range that blocked all view of Earth and most one side of the station. This prevented most of the sun's sporadic cycle of appearing and disappearing behind the combination of the station and the Earth. It seemed the training grounds had a more Earth-like day with the mountain range at their side.

            They stared at the wonderful scene in front of them. The sun cast long shadows across the land and water as it kept falling. A mirror reflection of the sun shone under the water line, since the water was perfectly still.

            "Watch this," Margaret told Viktor. She leaned over and gripped a rock that was half the size of her torso. She rolled it along the ground until it fell off of the side of the plateau and dropped hundreds of feet to the water below.

*

            Arden was standing at the mouth of the blast door in the facility. He was staring at the beautiful landscape stretched out below. Out of nowhere, a well sized rock chunk dropped from the plateau above him and free fell to the water below. Arden scrunched his face and raised an eyebrow in confusion. "What the..."

*

            The rock submerged with a barely audible splash. Margaret and Viktor leaned over and watched as the ripples the rock had made slowly glided along the water for miles. Margaret looked at Viktor, who actually had a hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.

            At last, the sun dropped out of sight, and the land became so dark it was almost unable to be spotted. The way the station was orbiting over Earth made it to where the moon didn't show until about a half hour later than it would on Earth's surface. This meant that the station had a period of being borderline pitch black for almost half of an hour.

            "Hey you two!" a man called out to them from the watchtower. "The blast doors are going to close in a half an hour!" the man merely informed them.

            "Okay!" Margaret responded. "Let's go back in." They both backed away from the cliff edge and headed to the barrack.

*

            John and Connor were talking just outside of their room in the barrack. They were both leaned against the wall, waiting for the rookies to get back. Dale and Arden were in the bathrooms, showering and brushing their teeth.

            "What do you think of the rookies so far?" Connor asked John.

            "It's too early to say really. They aren't anywhere near where they need to be if they're going to be as good as us," John replied.

            "Yeah. They're better than average soldiers I suppose, but they still need A LOT of work."

            "Unfortunately, these first two months are going to be mostly filled with basics, drills, working out, nothing too special or deserving of super soldiers."

            "You like Cloud so far?"

            "He has potential, but he might a little too immature. He doesn't seem to understand the concepts and tactics that he needs to yet."

            "You think he's immature? Have you even heard Dust speak? She sounds like some sixteen year old high school chick. I doubt she's even seen any real violence. Plus, she seems way too emotional."

            "Smoke, you're way too emotional," John shot back with a smirk.

            "Am not!"

            "No, Haze, is way too emotional," Dale butted in. Connor and John hadn't noticed him leave the bathroom. He only had a towel around his waist and his hair was dripping wet. "I never thought I'd say it, but there is a person out there more emotional than Smoke." John and Dale both laughed.

            "Both of you can go jump off a cliff," Connor told them, but with a playful smile.

            "Seriously though, she was crying her eyes out when she gave out on our run this morning," Dale continued.

            "But Shadow, you have the unnatural ability to make anybody cry," Connor teased.

            "Hell yeah," Dale remarked, taking Connor's statement as a compliment. Arden left one of the bathrooms on their floor and met with the rest of them. Arden had wet hair too, but was wearing his pajamas.

            "Shadow, show some decency! We're going to have two women here any minute now," Arden scolded Dale for only wearing a towel.

            "Consider it a gift to them," Dale responded cockily. "A visual spectacle for them to marvel at." They all chuckled.

            "Seriously though, Shadow, you need to put some clothes on," John told Dale.

            "Ugh, fine," Dale actually gave in. "All of you wait out here for half a minute before you come in then." Dale entered their bedding room.

            "What about you, Fog?" Connor asked Arden.

            "What do you think of your rookie?" John added.

            "What can I think?" Arden responded with a rhetorical question. "The guy barely ever talks, and when he does he's even more blunt than Shadow. He still is the best out of all four of them though I think. His problem is his lack of trust and teamwork."

            They finally saw Victoria walking their way in her pajamas with dangling wet hair.

            "Sirs," she greeted them.

            "Haze," John replied and nodded at her. Victoria entered their room. Connor, John and Arden tried to suppress their smiles from what they were about to hear.

            From outside they heard her say, "oh, crap, is this a bad time sir?"

            "I'm going to kill you guys out there!" Dale shouted to them. They snickered between themselves.

            "Oh, sorry!" Connor shouted back a not very genuine apology. "We forgot to collect her admission fee for the show." Connor, Arden, and John all laughed heartily.

            Brian suddenly exited one of the bathrooms and greeted Vapor Team as he walked in their room as well. Dale was clothed by this time.

            "Sir, why is your face so red?" Brian asked Dale.

            "Shut up!" Dale yelled. Connor, Arden, and John laughed uncontrollably. Finally, Margaret and Viktor came walking toward them, side by side.

            "Greetings sirs," Margaret said as she walked past them and in to their room. Viktor lingered behind and stayed in the hall with the other three.

            "Something you need to say Steam?" Arden asked.

            "Which one of you knows a lot about relationships?" Viktor asked them.

            "You mean like, between a guy and girl?" Connor questioned.

            "Yes," Viktor confirmed.

            "Later guys," John quickly said and entered their room. Viktor was confused why he left so quickly.

            "He's never had a girlfriend," Connor provided some clarity.

            "I see. What about you sir?" Viktor looked at Arden. Before he could respond, Connor responded for him.

            "And Fog hasn't held a girlfriend longer than three months," Connor said, smirking at Arden.

            "Shut up," Arden bluntly responded. "But he's right, Smoke is the love expert here."

            "Why are you asking this, rookie?" Connor wondered.

            "I need information," Viktor requested. "Permission to speak with you, Smoke?"

            "Sure," Connor replied with a shrug.

            "I'll be in our room," Arden left.

            "What's on your mind, Steam? Speak freely," Connor asked.

            "It's Dust. I don't know for sure, but I think she might have feelings for me," Viktor answered.

            "That's a bold statement, especially given the fact that you never talk. Honestly, over the past thirty seconds I've just heard you say more words than I ever thought would come out of your mouth, ever. Women like a man that can talk, cause boy do they love to talk."

            "Yes, I've noticed."

            Connor chuckled. "Is she chatting your ear off rook?" He asked with a smile.

            "A little bit," Viktor replied. He told him about how she was striking up conversations with him in the mess hall and them watching the sunset together.

            "Wow," Connor remarked with one eyebrow raised. "She's hardly trying to hide her feelings for you. What a bold girl." Connor said this with slight happiness that his rookie had such spirit.

            "So she does have feelings for me?" Viktor asked for confirmation.

            "I think it's a possibility," Connor answered. "I hate to be the stick in the mud with what I'm about to say, but I don't want either of you two to focus on love or 'more than friends' partnership. The only partnership I want you two to focus on is the partnership of your squad. Clear?"

            "Yes sir," Viktor responded, then entered their bedding room. Connor followed him in. Vapor Team fell asleep. The rookies fell asleep quicker, exhausted from all the activities earlier in the day. Unfortunately, in just a few hours, they had to relive the hell all over again.

The End

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