There was much tension in the air. Many newly graduated recruits were returning to main military headquarters from their vacation times. A month off meant wild parties, stupid stunts, or other activities like zero-gravity basketball for most recruits who were ready to let loose from their military restrictions. But now that they were back on base, many seemed uneasy at the thought of once again having to adapt to military life.
"Well, we'll be docking soon."
"Uh-huh. Vacation time is what we needed after two months of boot camp stress. Too bad it's over eh, Glenn?"
"Eh. Vacation was over for me about a week ago. Mind you Ray, some of us are actually glad to be here again. After all, I didn't sign up for this to lolly-gag around all day."
Ray Hadron. When most people think of someone that serves in the military, they might usually think of someone behind that red-orange uniform jacket to be stern and well-disciplined. Ray was the last person that fit that description.
"Oh I understand.” Ray spoke, with a smirk on his face. “I just like to run free sometimes. Relax and just have fun. What did you do anyway? Study your general orders or practice 8-counts?"
He was never a very serious person for as long as Glenn has known him. While he can definitely get a game face on when he needs to, Ray's usually a bit more care-free for his tastes. Glenn folded his arms and huffed. Unlike his more easy-going friend, his uniform jacked was zipped up with his sleeves rolled in front of his elbows, covering most of the black undershirt. His hair was just as black.
"That's very funny." Glenn retorted. "And how did you spend yours, flirting with girls off somewhere?"
Ray snickered. "Well I was mostly hanging out in the Ancient Vision Ruins snowboarding. Buuuuuuuuut, I will say there were more than a few ladies out there."
"More like Ancient REvision. Place used to be like a desert. Now it's been SNOWING for the past year non-stop. I remember when I was a kid, I used to look forward to Christmas. Nearly a year later and it's STILL Christmas...."
The sky train began to slow. It was beginning to dock.
"Well. Fun while it lasted. But at the same time good to be back. Looking forward to fun?"
"Shut it, Glenn."
As the train pulled to a stop, the air locks disengaged and the passengers emptied onto the loading platform. There a petty officer was already directing them to the central auditorium, a long walk from the platform.
Ray and Glenn looked around at its massive space. As recruits they'd never seen this area. It looked almost like a large movie theater, just without the comfy chairs. Tons of seats on an incline facing a stage in the front. As they took their seats with the rest of the graduates, another non-commissioned officer walked up to the podium on the stage. He began to speak.
"Welcome back, fellow graduates. I hope you enjoyed your time off. But remember, now that you’re back on base, you'll be expected to behave as if you had never left. Furthermore, your recruit status may have changed, but your training is far from over. First off, you'll be given a refresher course. We need to make sure you haven't forgotten anything you learned as a recruit. Afterward we will go immediately into weapon training. Weapon training is not as strict as you may believe. While basic assault rifle and shotgun courses are mandatory, additional courses are available if you choose to broaden your range. Upon completing your training, whether you've taken additional weapon courses or not, you may choose to use weapons on your free will. But it is prohibited to exit the base without a weapon at any time. Training after weapons will be explained in further detail at a later date. In the meantime, let’s get you all back to your compartments."
As the graduates were led to another large room, they were lined up in several rows along yellow tape on the ground. The official that spoke at the auditorium walked to the front.
At once everyone snapped to attention. He looked around and pointed toward someone with his entire hand open, forming a “knife” hand.
"You there. You don't move. What position are you in?"
"Uh... Attention, sir."
"Wrong answer. I don't know what you're in, but it's not attention. And don't call me sir. I work for a living. Got it?"
"Holy shit, guy. Look at my collar device. That means 'Master Chief Petty Officer'. Understood?"
"Yes, Master Chief!"
"Today you will be organized into your units. It will consist of four each. There will be no whining or complaining. If you don't like the people you’re put with then suck it up. Now get your compartments and await further instruction. Fall-out!"
Ray and Glenn met up within their own compartment. They'd been told they'd be in the same unit before they left base after graduating.
"Well. Here we are. Back to getting our tails handed to us." Ray sighed, running a hand through his platinum blonde hair.
Glenn sighed in return. "If you'd actually pay attention every so often you might not get chewed out."
A 1st class petty officer interrupted their conversation. Behind him was another graduate.
"Alright sissies. This is your third wheel. He'll be with you two. And wipe that smirk off your face, guy."
Ray swallowed. "Sorry, petty officer."
"Hey, guy. I'm not a sorry petty officer. Don't let me hear that again. Now get your head on straight, clown."
"Aye-aye, petty officer."
The petty officer left, leaving the three alone. Glenn adjusted his orange-red uniform jacket and cleared his throat, breaking the silence.
"So you're with us? Glad to have you aboard. My name is Glenn. You can call him Ray. Though personally, I think 'clown' is a better fit."
Ray gave him a dirty look.
"And I should call you lap dog, you suck-up."
Glenn laughed. "But I'm not the one getting drilled by petty officers. I'm honestly surprised they aren't as hard on you as some of the other guys I've seen."
"I see you two are quite the pair. My name is Jace. They told me they felt sorry for me when they said who I was going to be put with. Any reason they would have told me that?"
Ray smiled. "Nope. You should be grateful. We'll have a blast."
Glenn rolled his eyes. "A unit consists of four. We won't be going on any of your silly adventures until we've accrued another teammate."
Jace lifted an eyebrow. "He always like that?"
Glenn nodded. "Yep."
"You guys need to open up and enjoy life." Ray laughed.
The three proceeded to carry out the day as it was planned for them. Taps was at 22:00, and everyone turned in for the night. Ray, along with Glenn and Jace met back up in their compartment.
"Take care you two. And don't wake me up unless somebody is dying, or you’re the *OOD." Glenn stressed, retired to his rack.
"He sure takes his training seriously. Wish I had that kind of determination."
"Eh, don't worry Jace. Just relax and let it all slide by. He's always that way. I'm in it for the excitement and adventure. Plus I sort of didn’t have anything else better to do."
"Maybe. But that attitude is what gets the petty officers' attention. And I don't mean in a good way."
"Ah whatever. I'm a thrill seeker. Hope you get used to that."
"I hope so too, honestly. In the meantime I need as much sleep as I can get. See you in the morning, Ray"
- OOD = "Officer of the Deck"