Kellan frowned as he stood in line with the other boys and girls. Everyone seemed so determined and serious, so he tried to look the same…only that his bottom lip was shaking in an attempt to hold back his giggle.

Sergeant Mura wasn’t amused. At least he didn’t seem to know how to smile.

Next to him walked General Weber who’d only rarely visit them.

Kellan’s eyes tried to follow their restless, rather annoyed pacing but he was smaller than the other boys. All of them were about fourteen years old but Kellan was only thirteen.

His father had wanted him to finally man up. Like this would do the deed…

When Sergeant Mura walked past him, he went up on tiptoes. With a slightly dancing movement of his feet, he tried to spy over Michael’s shoulder in order to see where the Sergeant would stop.

They’d been called out to the training grounds in the middle of the night. Well,…it was actually time to get up for recruits like him but it was still considerably early in the morning.

Kellan, if he could have it his way, would totally sleep a little longer but nope. No chance with Minh shaking him awake because that guy was afraid that they’d get disciplined if they arrived late.

So grumpily, Kellan had dragged himself out of the bed to get into his uniform.

Now, though, nothing happened at all…

He gave a sigh and rolled his eyes while he bounced up and down on his feet.

SNAP!

Tears shot into his eyes as pain warmed his backside.

Damn! Was that even allowed?!

“Ouch!” he complained as he turned around to face Sergeant Mura.

The man gave him an impatient glare from his almond-shaped eyes. The dark irises seemed almost black. It very much complimented the cold and stern demeanor of said instructor.

“What was that for?” he snapped, feeling Michael and Minh tense up next to him.

What did he do again?

Oh…now he knew. He’d spoken without permission. Again.

“Discipline means everything, Harrison!” he spoke with a heavy Asian accent.

Sergeant Mura’s nostrils flared as he waited for…well what? Was Kellan supposed to say something?

“Err…your words are very true but that’s no reason to be violent. Violence is the downfall of our society. We should talk to each other and agree on compromises in a peaceful way. It’s more civilized and-,“ Kellan shut his mouth when the Sergeant made a gesture to cut his words.

“You think you’re funny? That it?” he asked- now that vein on his forehead was throbbing too.

The switch in his hands shook as he waited for Kellan to answer.

“Sorry, Sir! I mean…I meant it but-,” he flinched when the Sergeant lifted the switch. Though, it never hit him.

General Weber was holding the Sergeant’s arm in a firm grip.

“I’ll deal with him, Sergeant,” he said without asserting his eyes from Kellan who gave him an apologetic shrug.

General Weber rolled his eyes at that and let go of the Sergeant’s arm after he muttered his compliance.

He stiffly stalked away from them and when he was almost down the line, General Weber waved Kellan to follow him.

His roommates followed him with their gazes and when Kellan looked back at them, he saw their pale faces.

He swallowed. Damn. He was in trouble again.

 

Unsure of what to do, Kellan stood in the middle of General Weber’s office.

When the General sat down on his armchair Kellan finally dared to step closer. At least now he knew, he wouldn’t get a trashing…though, General Weber had never done that to him before.

His father, on the other hand, was a different story.

“Sit down, Kellan…you’re making me nervous standing there all…you know” he waved his hand in a motion that included Kellan from head to toe.

Wringing his hand nervously, he did as he was told, and when he was seated on the uncomfortable chair, he bit his lip.

Whatever General Weber had to say, it couldn’t be anything good. He’d been in this group for a few weeks only but he had managed to get quite a number of vocal reprimands by now.

However, when the General didn’t talk to him but instead ruffled through his documents, Kellan started bouncing on his seat.

He watched the interior of the office when General Weber cleared his throat.

Immediately, Kellan’s head snapped up and he sat still.

Expectantly, he waited until the other man addressed him.

“I know it’s hard for you to follow orders without questioning them, but could you at least try?” he got right to the point.

Kellan opened his mouth but shut it when the General gestured him to stay quiet. Nodding compliantly, he waited for him to continue.

The older man gave a satisfied nod and spoke: “You’ll clean the gear this morning and after lunch, you’ll rejoin your group. I hate to reprimand you every day, Kellan. So please try!”

“Yes, Sir!” with that he got up and walked to the door. He could almost feel the concerned stare at his back.

Turning around, he gave a small smile to the General.

“Thanks, Markus,” he said and scurried out into the hallway.

 

On his way to the armory, he met a few of the older recruits. Some of them smiled at him in sympathy, knowing that he was most likely on his way to do some chores he had gotten as a punishment again. It was hard to miss all the yelling at him by different instructors that happened every day.

Kellan found it unreasonable to only comply with orders if no one could tell him what sense it made. Like shooting practice- they were supposed to shoot at dummies that popped up on the field but what sense did it make? It wouldn’t get them anywhere if they went out to a real battlefield and just shoot at everything that moved. Maybe talking would be a better choice sometimes:

Though, when he had suggested that to Sergeant Mura hadn’t thought so. It had gotten Kellan ten extra rounds around the training area and laundry room duty.

Now, though, he hurried to the armory to find a big load of dirty boots, vests, and helmets.

Sighing, he got a bucket and the brush so he could start his work.

 

“Harrison! There you are!” Minh cheered when he strode into the dining hall.

Kellan was all sweaty and smelling like old socks. At some point, Sergeant Mura had dumped a big basket full of old socks in front of him. The odor seemed to have seeped into his clothes and skin. His hair was a mess and he had dirt all over his uniform- damn those muddy boots! He so hated his mates for this. If they hadn’t gotten them dirty, Kellan wouldn’t have needed to clean them.

With a grunt, he sat down between Michael and Minh. It was his usual place and as usually Minh had taken a plate for Kellan with him to their place. This wasn’t the first time Kellan had been late to lunch or dinner because he had messed up and then been sent to do some stupid stuff like doing laundry…

“You stink,” his roommate commented.

“Thanks, asshat!” he retorted and picked up his spoon.

In front of him was a gooey gray mass. He frowned at it, then poked his spoon into the mass. It didn’t move much. Whatever it was it was dead so he scooped it up on his spoon and stuffed it into his mouth. Surprisingly, it didn’t taste like anything at all. Well, with that he could live.

Shrugging, he dug in and had the plate cleared in no time. Galaxies, was he hungry!

Now he remembered that he hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast.

He was about the get another plate full of whatever he had been eating when Sergeant Mura strode into the dining hall- all important and business.

“Assemble!” was all he said before he turned on his heel and was gone within the blink of an eye.

Unhappy, Kellan eyed the food counter and sighed. Nevermind. He wasn’t so hungry after all…

 

Again, for the second time today they stood in line. The sun was trying to burn their skin. The fireball was high up in the sky and the merciless sun beams were hotter than usually. That was the bad thing about being on their training base on Edea.

The bird people were creatures of heat and tropical temperatures. But Kellan and his mates were human. They weren’t accustomed to such warmth and the thin air didn’t make it any better.

In full gear, they waited for their instructor to address them but Sergeant Mura only paced in front of them, giving each of the rookies a glare.

The man probably hated people…or youths that was. When he was finally done with pacing, he came to a halt in front of Kellan. Oh! Awesome!

“Ten rounds!” he barked, making Kellan and the boys flinch.

The Sergeant never yelled at the girls of their group. Only the boys and Kellan found it quite unfair. But when he looked down the line, he saw that all the girls were perfectly still and on high alert- sucking in every word their superior said and doing as he wished.

Kellan found it astounding. He could never show such obedience, though, Sergeant Mura would call it discipline.

“Kidding?! It’s too hot!” he muttered under his breath but his instructor still seemed to have caught his words.

He snapped around and came up in front of Kellan, poking one finger in his face.

“YOU! Fifteen rounds extra! Now!” he practically shouted into Kellan’s face, drops of salvia flying around.

“Can I change clothes?” he asked- one could always try.

Or maybe he shouldn’t have asked because the man’s nostrils flared as his anger built up. He gasped but no words came out of his mouth, making him look like a fish.

“I mean it’s so warm and I can put on my gear afterward and then run with the others,” oh why couldn’t he just shut his mouth.

Sergeant Mura certainly looked like he wanted to slap him.

“I mean-“

“FINE! JUST DO IT!” the Sergeant shouted; his face all red and his body shaking from anger.

Wait…had he just allowed Kellan to change clothes? That was a yes, right?

Kellan bounced on his feet. With a happy smile, he thanked his instructor and practically ran to the changing rooms.

 

Jump. Run. Flicflac. Jump. Salto. Run. Jump. Roll. Run.

“HARRISON! YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE FUN! RUN!” Sergeant Mura yelled as Kellan ran the obstacle course.

The man had seemingly lost his patience with him because he came running after him.

“RUN!” he shouted again while his comrades laughed and cheered at Kellan’s display of acrobatics.

Though, his instructor didn’t appreciate it at all. Such a bore! It was so damn boring to always run and climb over the obstacles. Why couldn’t he do it the fun way? He was too small to jump over the blocks with a big stride, so he had to get inventive. At least a little appreciation wasn’t too much to ask, was it?

Turning his eyes at that, he slowed down his running but he didn’t stop doing fun things to get over the obstacles.

Breathing heavily, Sergeant Mura caught up to him and gave him a nasty glare.

“What’s so hard to get when I say run? Cease this nonsense now!” he spat.

“Like that makes sense…how am I supposed to get over the obstacles when I’m only allowed to run?” he asked and just to underline his words he placed his hands on the next block and pushed himself up with his feet, pushed his arms straight and landed on his feet.

When the Sergeant didn’t answer, he stopped and looked back only to find his instructor standing next to the obstacle shaking his head.

Shrugging, he continued his six rounds that were still ahead of him.

 

“That was impressive!” a voice sounded behind him.

Kellan was on his way to the showers. He dropped his towel on the bench and turned around to face the person who had spoken to him.

Brown hair and kind eyes, rosy cheeks and a bright smile- that was Lily Graham.

Kellan blushed. A girl in their changing bay!

“Thanks,” he muttered, though he didn’t know at first for what he was thanking her.

“He was so annoyed, though,” she said further, making Kellan realize she spoke about Sergeant Mura and the obstacle course.

“Ah well…He finds everything I do annoying…,” Kellan shrugged.

He knew his superiors didn’t like it when he questioned them but he just couldn’t stop. It was hard to bite his tongue.

Lily giggled. Huh? Had he said something funny?

“Can I sit with you at dinner?” she asked him totally out of context.

Frowning, he nodded and when she giggled as an answer and left the room with no further word, he shook his head.

Girls were weird.

“HARRISON! YOU’RE STILL NOT SHOWERED?! MOVE YOUR SCRAWNY ASS!” Sergeant Mura’s voice thundered right behind him, making him flinch and picking up his towel in no time.

How the hell did the guy always manage to sneak up behind him? Why did he always yell when something concerned Kellan? What was he doing here anyway? Wait…

“I’m practically done with training today so I’m kinda off-duty. I have leisure-time now. That does mean I can shower whenever I want…okay…nevermind. I’ll shower. See? I’m running! Running!” he shouted over his shoulder as he raced to the shower room.

Damn, Sergeant Mura’s nostrils had begun to flare again and that reddish face color wasn’t a good sign either.

Why was the man so easily pissed? He seemed to stoic and calm all te time…well…with other people.

Maybe Kellan was special…kinda?

“Like that makes sense…”

Kellan as a rookie

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