Chapter 2 Part 1

The alarm clock droned on in the background as the two soldiers stirred. Ari swore and jumped up.

"Seriously!? Its our day off!" Jett calmly climbed down from the top bunk and went over to the panel on the wall, typing the code to turn the thing off.

"We still have our briefing for our mission today..." Jett replied as a holographic map appeared over his desk. It showed directions on how to reach the conference room.

"We have to be there at 8:00." 

"I know... I know..." Ari grumbled and looked at the clock. 6:30. At least they got to sleep in a little bit. He ran a hand through his black mop of hair, tugging slightly when small knots caught onto his knuckles. 

  The air of the room was cool as usual as the younger of the two approached the closet. Jett quietly hummed a tune he had heard during the show last night as he prepared to get dressed. 

Ari slightly frowned at the overly cheery tune. There wasn't a reason for it to be so upbeat, a new year or not, to him. He brushed past Jett, bumping him over a bit as he stepped into the closet. Shirt, pants, jacket, underwear, belt. All the same every day. It was frustratingly mundane and dull. But that was life here. It was planned. Repetitive. Plain. Boring. 

"You're doing it again..." Jett's quiet voice penetrated the beginnings of brooding. Ari looked over and raised an eyebrow.

"Doing what?" he asked innocently. He hated when the younger teen switched into an almost more “motherly” tone. 

Jett sighed and gave him a look. You know that look you get when you say something stupid on purpose and the other person knows exactly what you’re up to? It was that one.

“I can see it written all over your face, Ari. You are thinking about how everything is wearisome and tedious.” Ari just frowned and started getting dressed for the day. Jett was a lot smarter than he looked or let on for barely being seventeen. 

He had graduated the initial Academy at the top of the Runners right before being assigned to Ari a little over a year ago. Ari’s record wasn’t as impressive as Jett’s, or at least what he showed wasn’t.

“There’s no point in showing off in training…” Ari had said to Jett early on in their partnership. “They try to know everything about us. Our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and failures. I refuse to let them hang that over my head.”

Ari pulled his shirt on and looked over at Jett.

"I guess it's a crime to think any more." The blonde sighed and sat down to tie his boots. The room went silent apart from material being shifted and occasional clanks of metal. Both soon finished dressing and exited the bedroom, Jett first then followed by Ari. 

"We should go get breakfast first before the meeting starts." Jett broke the silence as he walked towards the hall door.

"Yeah" was Ari's reply. They walked down the long and seemingly endless white halls. Jett fiddled with the button on his collar as they continued. Countless dorms lined the hallway; some closed without any hum of activity, while others were cracked enough for an arm or a leg or even a head of an unconscious person to be flopped out of. 

“Drunks…” Ari grumbled and stepped over a passed out adult.

“They are old enough…” Jett replied and kept walking.

“Not all of them.” Ari said shortly and paused in his steps and looked down. Two of the Academy’s few female soldiers were sprawled out on the ground, scantily clad and knocked out cold with beer bottles still somehow clutched in their limp hands. An impatient sigh escaped his lips as he shrugged off his jacket and looked back at Jett.

A crimson blush was present on the younger teen’s cheeks as he quickly looked up at Ari.

“Give me your jacket. We can go back to the room and change before the meeting…” Jett quickly peeled it off and handed it to him. Ari turned and knelt down, covering the two girls with a jacket before picking the smaller of the two up and handing her to Jett.

“I know where their room is.” He calmly said and picked up the other one. 

Long auburn hair was swooped over in a messy part from whatever activities the girl had been involved with the night before. Heather was her name if Ari remembered correctly. Jett was uncomfortable on so many levels as he tried to walk without dropping the poor girl or accidentally banging her head or feet against a wall.

“That’s Emelia, she’s your age.” Ari quietly said and adjusted Heather in his arms. Their room had to be close.

“W-what are you implying..?!” Jett replied indignantly.

“Oh come on, she’s into you… Runner, 17, 4.0 GPA. Right up your ally.” Was Ari’s monotone reply.

“I d-don’t want to date r-right now!” Ari rolled his eyes as Jett stuttered.

“We’re on the brink of w-war! And it’s not proper.” He retorted.

“It won’t kill you to get laid before we die.” Jett stopped dead in his tracks, his blush worsening considerably. “

T-that’s not funny at a-all..!” he managed and stared into Ari’s back. The Black haired teen acted as nothing had happened as he nudged the door open with his foot.

“Good, they were in such a hurry that the door didn’t completely latch.”

Ari stepped in and was followed by Jett a few moments later. The room they entered was a bit more out there than they expected. The bunks had been separated and placed on opposite sides of the room, with desks at the foot of each bed. The room itself was a bit too small for this accommodation, because it only left about three feet between the edges of each bed. The decorations were mainly in pastels with hints of mauve or a deep navy. The bedspreads weren't standard either, probably sent from their parents.

The room was different from Ari’s and Jett’s in layout specifically, though. This one was only a bedroom and bath, while theirs had a small sitting area and balcony in addition to their bedroom. There was reason for that though, as they were set here long term while the small size of the girls’ room indicated that the two of them were being moved to one of the small bases after finishing their current training here.

They carefully laid the girls down on their beds and begun to leave. Jett exited and paused when he noticed that Ari wasn’t behind him. He turned to see the nineteen year old punching a note into the computer of Emelia’s desk.

“Come on, Ari…” he quietly said before turning to walk away.

Ari looked up for a few seconds before finishing what he was typing and turned to walk out. Jett’s figure was heading back to their room, probably to get his jacket. Ari just shrugged and headed towards the cafeteria, not really thinking of it.

Jett on the other hand wanted a little space from Ari at the moment.

“How could he just say things like that so casually..?” he thought to himself as he walked down the waking corridor. He nimbly dodged the few people exiting their rooms and made his way back to his room. It didn't take him long to go get another jacket and grab Ari’s as well. He slid his on before walking out.

As he exited the room, Jett heard the sound of yelling coming from the direction of the cafeteria. His heart skipped a beat as he broke into a sprint, having a bad feeling that Ari would be involved. He rounded the corners tightly, weaving and slightly pushing through the people who were stopped and starring.

“You piece of trash.” The gruff voice reverberated from the corridor outside of the cafeteria.

Ari was pressed up against the cafeteria doors by a larger Gunner. There was a massive bruise starting to form on his cheek, probably Ari’s handiwork.

“Are you talking about yourself?” Ari sneered back. The larger Gunner’s arm drew back almost instantly at the comment. Jett instinctively jumped forward and grabbed onto the elbow jauntily hovering in the air. Ari’s eyes flicked over at Jett at the last moment as Jett’s nimble hands grabbed onto the guy’s arm. The smaller teen dug his fingers into the pressure point in the Gunner’s left elbow before yanking it behind his back and shoved it as far right as fast as he could. 

The Gunner crumpled quicker than Ari expected, but he had predicted this outcome as soon as he saw Jett approach. This had happened in the past before, considering how the typically passive aggressive boy was suddenly protective when he saw Ari in confrontational situations like this one. Jett looked up at him shakily, the adrenaline clear across his features.

You look like you're going to puke.” He said with a slight chuckle. Jett’s expression changed from one of worry to anger.

“You are horrible.” He muttered and stalked off into the cafeteria.

Ari softly sighed and followed him. He had some melodramatic tendencies when Ari made comments like that, but shouldn’t he be somewhat used to it by now? Jett had grabbed a piece of toast and held it in his mouth as he picked up a glass of juice. He glanced back, an unamused expression on his face.

“Leave me alone…” Jett muttered grumpily and turned away from Ari, scarfing down his small breakfast and retreating away from his partner.

“What if I don't want to though?”

“You’re impossible.”

Ari rolled his eyes and leaned over the shorter one as he dropped his glass on the conveyor belt. Jett stiffened and looked up at him, frowning even more.

“You know you can’t get rid of me. We have a meeting, remember?” Jett pushed Ari away and began walking.

“I’m the one that always has to remind you, idiot.” A small grin flicked across his lips with those words, causing Ari to slightly smirk. 

“Got it, Jett.”

The taller teen fell in step with his Runner and took his jacket, which had somehow managed to stay neatly draped over Jett’s shoulder during the confrontation. He lightly chuckled while slipping it on. Jett raised an eyebrow up at him.

"What?" Ari just shook his head.

"Just your knack for keeping things neat even after getting in a fight!" Jett sighed.

"For one, I was just cleaning up your mess as usual, not fighting." Ari couldn't help but smirk.

"Sure you weren't." 

They continued down the hall to the elevator to take them down to the briefing room. Upon entering, Jett presented his badge to a holographic eye and waited as a scan was initiated of the lift. The speaker crackled to life as a smooth, womanly voice began to speak.

"Two soldiers identified. Jett Davidson, accepted. Ari Knight, pending. Retinal scan initiating." A whirring noise followed as a panel overhead opened and a orb, no bigger than Jett's fist hovered down to meet Ari's left eye. He looked at it with an annoyed expression but said nothing as it did its job.

"Accepted. Destination?" The little orb hovered close to the controls and paused. "Command room 027." Jett replied.

"Permitted, proceed." 

 The elevator began to move downwards in silence. A few moments later, it opened into a long corridor.

"Have a nice day" the orb chirped as they walked out. As the two approached the meeting room, the gruff drone of the commander could already be heard.

"They need better sound proofing on these walls..." Ari murmured to Jett. He nodded in response and stepped up to the keypad. Ari leaned up against the wall and momentarily closed his eyes.

"So these are the deviants." The commander could be heard. Ari raised an eyebrow then stood up straight as the door slid open. Commander Anderson shut the folder on the table.

"Davidson. Knight." The teens entered and took a seat at the table. Anderson studied them for a moment before glancing over at his advisor.

"Where's the other one?" The door opened once again and a teen with trim, blonde hair entered.

"Lancing. You're late." The advisor said with a frown.

"My apologies, Commander. There was a brawl outside the cafeteria, which backed up breakfast." The male's eyes flicked over towards Ari with a bit of irritation. Ari ignored him and kept his eyes focused on the Commander.

"Excuses." Was the reply. "Now that you're here. Adrien Lancing meet your Runner and Gunner. Davidson, Knight, this is your Flyer for this mission." Adrien and Jett nodded to each other, Ari on the other hand stared right at Anderson.

"Understood, Knight?"

"Understood."

The End

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