BetaForce – Desert Training
Both men were dressed in light coloured, loose fitting clothing unlike the cadets they oversaw. They each carried a combat knife and sidearm as well as a police-style baton. The taller man looked at his watch. “He’s five minutes behind,” he said to his shorter companion in an English accent.
“We’ll have to do something about that.” His companion stated in a French accent as he sharpened his knife.
The boy glanced nervously at the two instructors without lifting his head as he trudged past them. He knew he was in trouble, the rest of the squad had left him behind and he’d lost sight of them a half a kilometre back. He had got about 5 meters when the Englishmen ordered him to halt.
“What’s you’re name cadet?”
“Preston, Thomas. Two-seventeen gamma. Sir.” He answered nervously, standing to attention despite the crushing ache in his back caused by the pack.
“217 Gamma, do you have any explanation as to why you have again fallen behind?” The Frenchman questioned as he came up behind the boy. The boy knew better than to answer such a question.
“Perhaps he’s just lazy,” the Englishman said conversationally, “look at that fat. He could do with loosing a few kilos.” He continued prodding the boy’s chest which was conspicuously lacking anything even close to puppy fat. “Note that down, meal privileges revoked for the day.” The boy silently groaned when he heard that, he hadn’t eaten for nearly two days now.
“There’s still another 5 klicks left on the run, do you think that you are going to make it if you continue in this fashion? … Well, answer boy.” The Frenchmen barked at him.
“If we let him continue, he’ll probably end up dead. Wouldn’t be our problem any more.” The Englishman said as he gulped down some water from a canteen.
“True,” the Frenchman began as he reached for the water, “it would bring the squads overall performance rating up.” He looked at the boy as if appraising a pack animal with a broken leg. “However you heard the techs. This boy is special and we should be careful that we don’t overwork him.” The Frenchman said, putting a mocking emphasis on the word special.
“I guess we can’t have him dying from exhaustion or heat-stroke then.” He looked thoughtful for a moment. “We should take him back to the base in the jeep,” he said nodding at the vehicle parked behind the rocks.
“I could do with a beer,” the Frenchman agreed, “the boy looks like he could do with a drink.”
The Englishman held out the canteen to the boy, “Drop that pack and take a drink before you drop yourself.”
The boy paused, uncertain how to proceed. The Unity instructors were not known for any sort of compassion or kindness and he was sure that this was some sort of trick. However, disobeying an order always resulted in harsh punishment. He unbuckled the backpack and carefully reached out for the canteen. As his fingers neared it, the Englishman reached forwards and grabbed his wrist. “A thought occurs,” be began, “if we take you back to camp now, that would just be rewarding you for failing to complete the run.”
“He should be punished first.” The Frenchman agreed and the young could sense the the man’s anticipation in his voice.
The Englishman pushed him roughly down onto the dirt. “Hold him down will you.” He said as he pulled out his knife. The Frenchman grabbed his arms and forced back down on the ground. He pushed down with all his weight on the boys arms, immobilising them. The Englishmen knelt on the boys legs and between the two of them, Thomas could not move. “Now you’re file says that you have some limited regeneration,” he said holding the knife in front of the boys eyes, the sun glinting of the metal blade. “Even so, I can guarantee that this will hurt and it will teach you to not fail behind in the future.”
He brought the knife to just below the boy’s left eye and began to slowly cut across the face. Crossing the bridge of the nose. White hot pain flooded his senses as the blade cut deep into the skin and flesh. His screams echoed across the vacant desert.
Tommy woke with a silent scream, sitting bolt upright in the bed. The nightmare still fresh enough that he could still feel the desert heat, the dirt under his back and the pain from that day nine years ago. His hand went to his face, fingers tracing across the scar stretched across his face. Despite his regeneration, the wound had never properly healed and was still visible all these years later. Across the room, Toby slept peacefully quietly snoring. All the troubles he’d recently experienced momentarily forgotten. In that moment, Tommy would have given anything to trade places.
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