!YvCruenWk2 2009/04/03 (Fri) 08:56 No. 27507
Choice entered: Grab knife, go
You quickly throw your clothes onto your bunk, donning the tightly form-fitting, well insulated fatigues favored for even casual activity in such an environment. It doesn't get too cold out there—well, not any colder than a northern winter back on Home, thanks to the base being located in one of the warmer areas of the moon. Leaving the top slightly undone gives you room to stash your knife by your waist without it being completely obvious. And then, over your face, the breather mask, with visor attached, and a spare tank attached to a clip at your belt. As you touch your door, you pause, and wedge the thin knife sheathe in further and flat against you to stop its movement, then undo the securing strap over the hilt. That's better.
The base is as quiet as it was two hours ago when you returned from the canteen. There'd been only a couple other trainees and an off-duty guard at the time, and you'd seen no one while walking back. Now, again, you see no one.
It doesn't take you long to reach the reinforced shelter of the cycling lock. Leaving it behind, and stepping out under the open sky, you see a small red light on the controls by the door. A sudden suspicion is quickly confirmed. The door locked behind you. Unless someone simply chose that time to lock it from the inside, this means someone probably set it to lock after the next time it was used. You feel... exposed. This is definitely not supposed to be happening. There aren't even any exterior guards on duty now, unless they're all on the west side, not that a training facility ever has a heavy guard presence... Nowhere to go for cover, except around any side of the building.
The building. The walls of the cycling lock. If there's anywhere to hide, it would be around one side of the cycling lock. There's no one in sight even though you were called here. Fuck.
Someone must be hiding just around the wall.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Should have figured this out five seconds sooner. Without you walking toward the gate and into their view, they'll be suspicious. Who are they? Doesn't matter, no time to think of that, you have to move.
You've got your knife. You've never been a praying man, and only a fool would pray to them, but thank the Moirae you brought a knife at the least. Not the time to draw it yet, but it's comforting. Now, somewhere to hide that isn't one of the only places to hide, that is the impossible task presented to you—
The roof. If they were there you'd have been seen by now, so they must not be there. You look up. It's only about ten feet—nothing at all. A running start would be too loud, so you jump, stretch, grab at the armored hull, drop, crouch, and jump higher. You get the edge, and pull your knees up, then flex your legs to smoothly hop up, rolling onto the roof. There's no one here. You lay still. You settle the knife into your right hand, held point-down, and lay still. Then you crawl silently forward and peer over the edge.
A training suit is standing there. The suit belongs to—you don't recall a face, but you recall the 46 designation. As to a name, was it Barder? Whoever it was, you remember number 46. You shot him from nearly point-blank in in the 8th exercise, so close you could see each other's faces—which means you should probably remember his face, though you can't see it from here. You don't remember it from the ranking list, but you only remember the ones consistently in the top five or ten positions. So he probably isn't one of them.
And from the long, flat crowbar in his hands—a blunt instrument, for blunt trauma—he probably planned to kill you and toss your body in a ravine, to not be found for months, and then thought an accidental fall. It's plausible. It wouldn't be the first body found with a smashed head at the bottom of a fifty yard cliff, dressed only in a breather and cold-weather fatigues. Your mind races ahead, trying to fit the pieces together (as it's no good fitting things together when they're over and done with). Hacking the base messaging system isn't impossible, not for anyone with a technician's background, even at the half-trained level. And if someone did, they could also find the schedules for most of the base personnel. Getting the system to send a muster request at that point, and setting a door to lock—trivial, in comparison. And he must have arranged for a key.
Very well. You know what you have to do. If you didn't, why bring a knife?
Is there any reasonable alternative?
He's locked you out and he must have the key. Behind you, from the base proper and onward, the roof isn't even accessible, without the boost from your armor. From this small area, wherever you get down, he could hear—no, he'll definitely hear. His suit's sensors will already be on. He just hasn't figured out you went up yet, and that's why he's double-checking the door's lock. Then he'll assume you either left out the gate, or—
He looks up. You jump down. You don't think.
The knife plunges with all the force of your double-handed, downward thrust, left hand pushing down on the round hilt as the right holds its aim steady, straight into his neck. You miss, but only slightly, hitting higher than intended as you fell into him, knocking him down. The blade slides down the helmet's lowest plate, sparking, shifting right into the soft material of the neck joint, its fullerene-reinforced steel parting the light armor mesh so easily that the flesh behind seems as resistant as wet paper. His face is frozen now, in a mask of pain and horror—shock and terror. As the armor detects his failing life signs, it (invisibly, though you knew it would) administers painkillers, anti-shock drugs, and then locks in an easily-opened laying position, ready to receive medical treatment, uselessly. From the spray of blood and fluids that splashed the inside of his visor, and the ragged, leaking hole left by your strike, it's obvious to anyone that there's no saving him now.
Now, to remove the body. You might thank him, at least, for preparing an arena that wouldn't end your career. That is, one that wouldn't end the victor's career.
* * *
Six months in basic. About five months on Ketyr. Fifteen training exercises, all over this forsaken, mossy rock, and each one longer than the last. You won't miss it, you promise. Or rather, you hope. You don't want to end up somewhere where you'll miss the boring view and the maze-like terrain and the instructors that grow harsher with every passing week and the fellow trainees that grow more competitive and hostile as their numbers dwindle. Some got what they were looking for. Their orders came in, and they'll ship out to where they wanted to go. Some just want out—they've had their fill of army life, and realized they didn't have the stomach for more. Those ones will end up working supplies if they're lucky, or garrisons, up until their tour's over. Others are still hoping, but they haven't found their goal yet.
No one has found private Barder. He is believed to have died while off-duty, likely due to a malfunction in his suit, as his armor is missing and its tracking device was not operational.
Today, new orders came in. They bore a noble's seal that anyone would recognize, as there are only two people authorized to use it—and for its forgery, death would be the kinder fate. Of those two, one is the Lady, whose authority would never be questioned. The other is her sister.
In one week, you go to your commander, Flandre Scarlet.
Your equipment is being prepared. It will be sent with you, what of it could be made in the facilities here. You have this one week to familiarize yourself with it, which is more than some receive. Fortunately, little of it should be much different than what you've used in the firing range.