He thought prison was hell. If so, training was the darkest pit of the devils sanctum. The officer, Major Aaron Break, was a forcefully retired military instructor. He was sent into pensionhood by his superiors, because in his 30 years as instructor, he had a 72% death rate in his courses. However, the men who make it out alive, much less sane, are the militaries greatest assests.

The Major was sent here to "put us into shape". This was crap. He was here to kill us. Plain and simple. The drill of lining 'em up them killing those who flinch was repeated with all 10,000 prisoners. Break then brought all who survived up to a specially built training facility in the upper half of the prison.

James stood in line with another 200 men. About double that number of guards standing vigilant incase of any threats to the Major's life. 

"Listen, you craven cur, for i'm only gonna say this once." The Major paused, eyeing them up. "First we're gonna work on fightness. I want a stasis field set up, and then three hundred laps around the vessel. NOW". A stasis field is an area in which the air's viscosity is multiplied one hundred fold. It is primarily used in battles as a way of slowing down enemy advancements. Running through it is virtually impossible.

Three hours passed, and James muscles were aching. He was out of shape, and he ha donly completed two laps. The stasis field made him work extra hard for each step, making one lap a marathon. Two inmates had collapsed, and were shot were they fell. The Major was grim faced as he watched the men run.

"Bloody hell", said someone from up front. Major Break's head whipped around, his mismatched eyes boring into the offender. A bullet streamed out of nowhere, taking the inmate in the head. James was forced to skirt the bloody mess, globules of blood falling in suspended motion.

"No talking" Shouted the Major, as if it needed to be said.

The 20th lap done, and only one day into training. Another 4 men had collapsed. Strangely, a man next to James had stumbled, and because of the stasis, seemed to have floated forward, as if in zero gravity. Thinking this was an offence, James immediatly backed away. But no gunshot could be heard, not exploding limbs spraying blood. With a furtive glance at the Major, who was following their progress on an automated platform, James noticed he was smiling.

Finally it struck him. Three hundred laps was outside human capability in these conditions. The point of the exercise was to make the inmates think laterally, to take shortcuts. Testing this theory, James pretended to stumble, then dived foward. The high viscosity of the air around him kept him up, and he floated forward for a good minute before he stood again, covering atleast six feet. Diving again, James managed to overtake the person infront of him, then the next, and soon he was streaming ahead.

Without warning, two guards entered the stasis, took James by the shoulder, and dragged him out. His muscled felt queer after so long in the stasis. He was taken into a small room, with at least two dozen other people. The Major entered the room shortly after.

"Well done. You are the few who discovered the way forward out of this group. The rest will be executed for their incompetence. You however, will continue throught the nightmare until you reach sweet wakefulness." A groan come involuntary from the throat of a man to Jame's right, and was instantly gunned down. None flinched. "The next stage is weapons training. You will be given a blade, then you must slay your apponent. Get in to pairs." The men milled around, searching for a partner. James had a dread feeling about this challenge, so he made a point of choosing the smallest man he could find.

Ten minutes later, and the men were lined up outside a pit. Two inmates entered it, armed with steel blades. Rustic, James thought, but what was the point in spending huge amounts of money of particle blades when they're going to die now anyway. The Major spoke; " You two must fight to the death. The winner advances, while the loser dies. You may begin." One of the men, an average sized bloke with short black hair, hesistated. But the other did not, and the blade sang true, hacking through the black-haired mans neck and sending a spray of lifeblood in a cone at the attacker, painting him red.

The bouts continued in a gladiatorial fashion. Soon, it was James turn. The Major did not even bother speaking, he just clapped his hand. Too late did James realise his mistake. His apponent, while appearing small, was fast and deadly. The blade shot up, nicking James in the cheek. He retaliated with a feint then thrust at his chest. The smaller man parried then riposte, sending the blade into James' arm. He grunted in pain, then jumped back. His reach was longer than the other mans, so he has a sligth advantage at a distance. Just gotta keep away from him. Suddenly, the man backed off, raising his blade over his shoulder. James had a moment to react. He lifted his blade then launched it as his opponent threw his, diving to the left as the blade whistled towards him.

Steel met Steel in mid air, but James stronger through prevailed, and sliced into the man throat. A clap brought James' attention back to the Major, was smiling in satisfaction.

"Well done, best knife fight i've seen in a long time."

And with that the fights continued, and James went back to his cell oddly satisfied.

The End

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