Ray studied the scene around him. There was nothing but only a light in the distance in otherwise pitch black darkness. He found himself suited in the standard issue “Viper” armor for whatever reason. In front of him also stood a silhouette. It was blurry, but slowly began to clear. What stood before him was what appeared to be a black armored knight of old. From behind, it donned a pair of bat-like wings, and a reptilian tail. What lied behind the armor was clearly alien. Its helm bore a long horn on the front, and underneath its visor was two red eyes. They glowed with an eerie light.
"Who........who are you?" Ray asked. He received no answer. "Who are you? Speak!"
The knight only stared at him. From behind its wings, it drew a large, two-handed sword. It was as long as the knight's body. He lifted it as if it weighed nothing, and pointed it in Ray's direction. Ray tried to step back, but realized he couldn't move.
"Stop fooling around! Answer! Who are you, and what do you want with me?"
The knight again did not answer. It turned around and began to fade as it walked away.
Sharp pain erupted in Ray's head. He crumpled to his knees as he clutched his head and cried out in pain. He tried to focus. Even through the pain he watched as the knight disappeared. What he though was the black knight’s voice rang softly in his ears.
"Ugh......." he sighed as his pain suddenly ceased as the voice died. He looked toward the light to where the knight was standing. He squinted a bit. At that instant, the knight reappeared lunging toward him. He couldn't move. It brought down its heavy blade, and the scene faded.
Ray awoke to the sound of the trumpet.
"It was a dream...but who was that...?"
Glenn came over to his rack.
"It's reveille Ray. Might want to hurry up before a petty officer catches you still in your rack. Get up and get in uniform, and I'll take care of making your sheets you lazy bum."
They assembled in the galley for morning chow. Jace and Ashe were already waiting.
"I was wondering when you two would show. Where did you find him?" Jace asked.
"Still in his rack. If he was still a recruit he would have given chief a heart attack." Glenn answered.
Ashe rolled her eyes. "Figures... You look like crap, Ray. Did Glenn wake you up too early?"
Ray looked up, and blinked a few times. "Yeah, yeah. Yeah I'm fine."
Ashe lifted an eyebrow. Although she was being sarcastic, it was a strange answer. She didn't question him further.
As they finished, Ashe left for her own tasks and the other three proceeded toward weapon training. Today was shotguns, which like basic assault rifle, was mandatory. This time there was less yelling and more shooting.
Glenn spoke to Ray. "Seriously man. You look like you've got something on your mind. What's up?"
"Nah I'm good. Just...overslept a little."
Glenn looked at him skeptically. "You don't seem so sure."
"Really, I'm alright. Just let me blow up a few targets. I'll feel better."
With mandatory weapon training completed, it was time to move on to field. Everyone was given their Viper level armor for the duration of the simulation. The Chief Petty Officer over the training course began to explain.
"If you remember battle stations from boot camp, then this shouldn't be much different. You will enter a simulator course as if you were on a real battlefield in pairs. You will not be using live fire, because I know some of you won't like your partners. And I don't want holes in my simulator. You will be scored based on number of total kills, and your level of 'health' when the simulation has ended. Now get in line!"
Glenn was paired with Jace. Ray was with someone from another unit. There was a total of five simulators, all having different terrain and layouts, included with certain hazards.
Glenn and Jace walked at a steady pace. Around them lay a swampy marsh, with dense fog and thick trees. Jace looked around carefully. Glenn as well, but he kept his weapon up in firing position. They walked a little further into the unfamiliar swampland. Glenn suddenly stopped.
"Hey. What are you doing? Let’s go!"
Glenn pointed toward him and fired. Jace dropped his rifle in surprise and ducked. Before he decided to yell, he looked behind him to see the broken body of a speedling. It slowly faded.
"Whoa. Thanks for that. But still. You’re lucky that wasn't a live round. Because I would have shot at you." Jace said, picking his gun back up.
"Don't thank me. Next time just be careful. Remember, we are in enemy territory. Always be ready."
As they ventured further, it grew darker. Dark to the point they needed to activate the night vision within their visors. Jace began to follow Glenn's example, and brought his weapon up and ready to fire at any moment. Along the way, neither of them accrued any hits, and knocked out 57 speedlings, 49 scorpions, 28 panthers, and 16 energy flys. The simulation ended when the marsh disappeared and they stood in a large, square room. Both had achieved a score of rank "S". They waited for Ray to finish. When he did, the results displayed on the screen above the simulator. Ray's partner appeared first. It indicated 2 kills, and took 27% damage. His total score ranked "D". Ray's personal score popped up shortly after. It displayed 148 kills, 87% damage taken. His rank was "C".
Glenn shook his head. "Got nearly every kill, but he nearly died too."
"What could he have possibly been doing? Standing in toxic sludge or something?" Jace wondered.
Ray exited along with his partner. They were confronted by the chief. He made no loud comments or insults, making it impossible to tell what he was saying. Ray then joined his friends. Jace gave him a pat on the shoulder.
"What went on in there? Did you notice how much damage you'd taken?"
"Yeah I noticed. Guy got into some trouble."
Glenn frowned. "What do you mean trouble?"
"Like, freaked out kinda trouble. He started shooting randomly. But before I could remind him it wasn't real, he froze up and went into fetal position. So I had to cover him. I had a few close calls with him. That's how I took most of my hits."
"So you shielded him?"
"What else was I to do? I know it was only a simulator, but I can't pass up someone in need. That's not how I roll." Ray said, pounding a fist against his chest.
Jace smirked. "Glad you got that kind of mentality. I envy you."
"Well. Just how I feel about it. I like people to help me when I need it. So why should I not help out someone who needs me?"
"Like Jace has already said, that's certainly a good mind frame. But for now we'd better meet up with Ashe. It's almost time for chow."
Ray studied his watch. "Your right. Let’s go then, shall we?"