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Eric Olafson, Fleet Cadet
Eric vs liz
Chapter number 3
Previous Chapter 2: Green Eden
Current Camp Idyllic
Next CHAPTER: 4 Basic Training

Chapter 3: Camp IdyllicEdit

While I was running I said to Narth who was right beside me.' Can you contact Wintsun with that telepath brain of yours?"

"Yes."

"Have him and two Cadets with blasters and lights come after us as fast as he can."

"I have relayed your commands and they have been received and understood."

I said between breaths.' You know that Psionic stuff can be useful after all!"

"One is pleased that you amended your verdict."

While I was running Narth floated beside me, his feet about ten centimeters of the ground. I glanced at him." You are sure a spooky sight! Floating and dressed like that, you look like a real ghost."

"I wasn't aware there are unreal ghosts!" His answer gave me the chills. I suddenly thought that if Narth believed in ghosts that there might be indeed such entities. I promised myself to ask him about ghosts sometimes later as we had reached the others.

Swybin stood in the middle of the twenty cadets, who looked cold and some of them raised their heads in hope. The Admiral's son was wearing several uniforms in layers against the cold and hissed:" It is too late to ask to come back, Viking. The Instructors will come and you will face a court-martial and I will personally watch your execution!

By now my eyes had adjusted well to the star lit night and I almost immediately saw the lumbering shapes approaching the group of cadets. I could make out three of the same beasts we had encountered before.

Just then someone screamed:" Look out, behind you!" At the same time something strong pushed me just as I turned, I stumbled but managed to stay on my feet, a scaled claw with sickle shaped razor sharp talons slashed through the air, where I had been standing a heartbeat before. A fourth beats had surrounded the group and was attacking from the other side.

Without really thinking, I hefted my axe in both fists, charged the big lizard. The humming axe vibrated in a very high frequency. Its razor sharp Ultronit blade would slice through nearly anything without much effort. I swiped it across the lowering head of the beast as it snapped after me, the axe cut through its jaw and showering me with scales, blood and broken teeth. The animal roared with a high pitched scream and in obvious pain, without giving the animal a chance to recover, I swiped the axe across its belly. An avalanche of wet glistening, stinking guts broke through the tough scaled skin, I actually felt sorry for the now mortally wounded lizard. In the last moment I managed to jump out of the way of the thrashing spiked tail, and chopped a piece of it off, before it could hit me. There was not much fight left in this poor creature and with one heavy blow I cut open its throat, killing it and showering me with a spray of hot lizard blood.

The animal collapsed. I whirled around. There was panic and screams, pure chaos! Cadets were running in all directions. One of the lizards snatched a cadet as he tried to run from another! The human was lifted off the ground m his arm all the way to the shoulder inside the monster's maw.

Everything happened at once and barley three four minutes had passed since we arrived I vaulted over a female cadet that crouched on the ground in fear. From the side I saw one of the monsters attack another student, but before it could snatch its prey, the whole animal lifted off the ground and as if catapulted by a big rubber band flew in a wide arch away into the darkness!

Without stopping, I was amazed and quite a bit terrified of Narth's incredible powers! He just dispatched several tons of living flesh with nothing but the power of his mind!

If the Lizard would have a chance to use its claws to rip the cadet apart, all hope for the screaming victim would be gone! I yelled at the top of my lungs an ancient Viking war cry, like Uncle Hogun taught m, to distract the animal and make it aware of me.

I put as much force as I could muster behind a powerful chop and brought the axe in a wide swing across the front leg, severing most it. The beast opened its maw to scream and let the wounded cadet go. Instead of dropping the cadet floated away, caught by Narth's telekinetic powers. The monster was wounded and confused and with an up to down swing I split its lower jaw and cut deep into its neck. Despite this mortal wound it managed to rake its other claw across my arm, shredding much of the padded cold jacket, my uniform beneath and judging by the burning pain, also some of my skin.

I disregarded the injury; it had to be nothing more than a scratch since I still felt my arm and finished the beast with two more blows against its head.

Bright lights stabbed the night and the loud crack of superheated energy beams mingled with the roaring screams of the remaining beast.

I took a breather and looked around; no other lizard was within sight.

Narth appeared next to me and said." I have dispatched the other Sauron and there is no immediate danger."

"I have seen it and still can't believe it! You threw that lizard at least 50 meters or more!"

"Since you have seen it, it is illogical not to believe it and your estimate was somewhat incorrect, I threw the Sauron 98.6 meters. Also if I it interests you, these animals are not lizards but warm blooded. A true lizard would not be active in temperatures like that!"

I grinned." I stand corrected then."

"I must confess I am in deep awe at your deeds! I have not seen anything like that before! You are injured!"

"Nothing but a scratch, it will heal. What about casualties?"

We checked and three of Swybin's cadets were injured and the one rescued by Narth was most severely wounded and barely alive his left arm was mostly gone, and he had deep bite marks in his side.

"He needs aid fast." I was looking to Limbur but Narth said." I shall convey the casualties and be back soon!"

All three injured cadets and Narth disappeared with three popping sounds, when the air rushed into the void he had left behind. I knew about Telepaths and had seen Telekinetics when the Old man of the Pillar demonstrated it to me, and I had heard about the rare power of teleportation in school. It seemed my new friend was gifted with all three talents.

Limbur came over and motioned towards the dead beasts." Remind me never to make you angry, Eric. I thought I was strong and badass but not like you going to town on those with just an axe!"

Swybar got up from behind his gear pack." Crawl back now and surrender your command and I will ask my father to take that in account when they pass judgment over you!"

"Oh shut up. You are repeating yourself." I pointed the bloody axe at him, "One more word out of you Mister and I do with you what I did with those Saurons."

I yelled as loud as I could." Everyone gather around! The danger has passed. We need to make a roll call!"

The scattered Cadets came around and Limbur used his impressive organ to repeat my call much louder." You heard the Lieutenant! Line up all of you! That goes for you as well Mr. Swybin"

He managed to line them up and I said to the admiral's son." How many were there with you? I remember twenty one counting all of you, right?"

He didn't answer but a beautiful girl with big black eyes said." Yes, Mister Olafson. We have been twenty one."

"Narth took three. That should leave us with eighteen, but I count only seventeen. Anyone missing? "

Swybin actually reacted and looked down the line and then said." I don't see Lydia Caldwell. I do not think she was one of the injured."

The black eyed girl blinked and nodded." I remember now. I saw her running form one of the beasts in that direction!" She pointed in a northern direction.

Still facing the admiral's son I said:" You tell your father whatever you want. I don't care. But right now the lives of these cadets are in serious jeopardy. Take them to the camp. There is food and warmth. You can blame me for everything later on and put it all on me, but for Odin's sake go now. If you hit or hurt anyone else, I take you apart piece by piece. Do you understand that?"

He was about to protest, I raised the axe."Don't test me, if they are going to hang me like you said, I have nothing to lose and killing you won't make a difference! So move your ass, now!"

Narth returned without a sound. Seeing him appear like that in his hooded robe out of thin air was more than a little unsettling, but I was glad he was back. To Limbur I said." Get them back and showered and fed. You are going to be in charge till I am back I turned to Narth." How are the wounded doing?"

"N'Buga is confident she can stabilize and aid the injured. The Cadets Al and Shaun are working on a second stasis tent."

"I am glad to hear that." To the gathered cadets I said." The wounded are taken care of. Now take your gear and follow my big green friend here, you all will be able to shower, eat and sleep."

"Where are you going?" Asked Swybin a little less hostile sounding.

I am going to search for that missing girl. "

Narth said." I shall accompany you. I can sense her. She is frightened but she is alive."

I remembered the name of one of the armed Cadets and said to him "Cadet Renoir hand Narth your blaster please."

Narth refused." I am unfamiliar with these weapons and would not use it correctly. I am by no means defenseless."

"I have seen that!"

I took one of the hand lamps and I watched the cadets leave and then said to Narth." Please point the way then."

INTERLUDE: In Orbit around Green EdenEdit

Commander Letsgo looked over the shoulder of one of the operators onto one of the view screens. It showed a high resolution bird's eye view of the camp .The satellite allowed them a high resolution view of the scene, At this magnification they could easily read the name tags on the Cadets uniforms, the image was light enhanced and to them it was like watching in day light.

"What was the name of that Cadet again?"

"Olafson, Sir. Cadet Eric Olafson."

He turned to the Holo Avatar next to him. "You were right, Admiral. He is the one that took charge."

McElligott's avatar smiled."I was almost certain he would be the one. Are any of the Cadets in serious danger?"

"We have casualties, but according to our spy ware they are all stable. They used space suit stasis modules in an ingenious way. When we run this test, we do have casualties occasionally, but this is the first time we are running the test from so far away."

"It is necessary. The Narth would detect you if you are any closer. Narth Supreme has suggested we should stay at least 100 kilometers away. Only so can we guarantee correct test results from this scenario."

"It sure is the first time we have a Narth! I am eager to see how he performs and interacts with the others."

"Yes that is part of the reason for this test, my friend. I am for the first time in contact with the Narth Supreme and from what I understand he is as much interested in seeing how this works out."

Letsgo nodded." "Well some of them show great promise while others need a lot of work, and I see already several who are not cut out to be officers." He motioned towards the screen. So are we going to phase two, or are we interfering?"

"We go to phase two of the 'Abandoned scenario'. I did not have that much fun in years; I should have made a point and watched Cadet training more often."

"This is an unusual group I have to admit. I do this for over 20 years now and I never seen a Cadet charge and kill two Novaks with an axe."

"He is a Neo Viking from Nilfeheim. He attacked a space bus with a submarine only recently, and destroyed a Dai Than battle ship while being o the Conn of a private Yacht!"

"You are kidding me right?"

"It's all in his file. It is a worthwhile read!"

INTERLUDE: BACK AT THE CAMPEdit

The rescued cadets, looked tired, were covered from head to toe in the reddish mud and cold, they looked at the mess hall with great eyes. Limbur had them sit down while Wintsun and a few others organized food for them. Limbur said:" While we ready the food for you, I suggest you all take a shower first, and put on clean uniforms. Go upstairs, Cadet Ross is waiting for you. He is in charge of the bathroom facilities. Since we only got four showers, please limit your time.

"Then take your dirty laundry into the basement, Cadets Paulsen and Brennan will take it of you and run it through the laundry machines. After that you come here and you receive dinner. Once you have eaten, Cadet Wintsun will assign you to a tent. Tonight you won't have any chores, but tomorrow you will all be assigned to do your share."

One especially dirty Cadet looked impressed." You organized so well and in only those few hours?"

Limbur looked very proud." Yes indeed!"

Swybin had a sour look on his face." I am not taking orders of anyone! I do as I please. You are all just Cadets and in deep trouble when the Instructors come!"

Wintsun looked at him cold." I am not so sure about that. If they see what is in our infirmary and that you are responsible, I am not so sure even your Admiral dad can get you out of trouble. There are over 100 witnesses who will testify what occurred if it ever comes to any sort of hearing!"

Swybin did not like to hear that and it was obvious he had not thought about that." There won't be any hearing! There are careers on the line, they will listen to me."

Limbur crossed his massive arms and stepped close to Swybar," If you cause any more trouble, I show you what my father did with unruly sons. He took us behind the shed and beat the crap out of us." He grinned wide. "It happens to be that we have two sheds. Now do what you are told or I adjust your attitude the Lomax Limbur way and N'Buga has another patient!"

"You would not dare lay hands on me!"

"I was not thinking about hands, more like a good ass kicking! Now get moving and if I even hear so much as a complaint, your father will have a hard time understanding what you say through all the bandages!"

Swybin left without saying another word.

The first clean cadets appeared moments later and received their dinner. One of them was telling Wintsun with big gestures what happened." You should have seen the two! That Olafson Cadet did not even hesitate a second and fought those beasts with a ferocity that was almost more frightening then the lizards! He had just an axe and butchered them. He killed two of them in no time. The Narth gestured and used telekinetic powers to throw one of those lizards back into the jungle!"

Limbur looked thankful at Wintsun." I am sure glad you warned me back then in the space bus. That Narth is something else!"

Wintsun shrugged." There isn't much known about the Narth. They live totally isolated, but there are plenty of rumors and legends about them and if only half of them are true, they are perhaps the most dangerous species!" He looked around." Speaking off, where are they?"

"They went after a missing Cadet."

Swybin came in, also clean and in a fresh uniform. Next to the door leaned one of the Blaster rifles, put there by one of the armed Guards so he could take a break and eat. Swybin snatched it and laughed."Now I guess I am in charge after all!"


Chapter 3 Continued:Edit

We had already covered almost two kilometers and I said."Are you sure she went that far?"

"Being unsure is a concept quite alien to me, Eric. Unlike humans we Narth act or speak only if we are certain about our action."

"So you never guess?"

"It is not in our nature to guess."

"Must be nice to be always right!"

"This Narth is quite capable of making erroneous judgments and wrong decisions."

He pointed at a fallen tree just at the jungle's edge."She is close!"

I turned the light on and called."Cadet Caldwell!"

There was no answer.

Narth said."She can hear us but she is very afraid of us."

As we approached the tree, I said. Well maybe she isn't used to shrouded, eye glowing hood wearing floating Narths!"

"That could be the reason yes; however she might not be used to see a blood covered axe wielding Neo Viking either."

"So you think I am some sort of brutish barbarian?"

"Some sort, yes!"

There was a giggle from between the branches of the fallen tree." You really are Cadets! I was so afraid when I saw you. You didn't look like…"

"I am sorry, Ms Caldwell, I was concerned about your safety and postponed my shower! Are you injured?"

"Yes I think I broke my foot or something as I fell over a root of this tree."

"Narth, can you take her back to N'Buga?"

"Yes I can do that and I could take you too, there is no reason to be afraid of Teleportation. It is quite safe."

"I am not afraid of it. I just think I prefer walking back!"

"You still do not like Psionics!"

"No not really!"

"As you wish, but you could trust me."

"I trust you. I just think you strained your abilities quite a bit today. Are you not getting tired?"

"Yes I am experimenting with several states of weariness and fatigue and I feel tired indeed."

"Don't come back for me then, eat something and experiment with a pillow and a blanket and perhaps you find falling asleep doesn't take much skill, besides it is only maybe four kilometers and I be there in no time."

"I shall comply and follow your recommendation."

--------------------------------Edit

As I walked back through the dark, towards the distant shine of light, I wondered where the Instructors were. Somehow it all felt like a test, but then the casualties were real. Or was this all just an elaborateVirtu experience? Of course this was possible, and all I did and experienced was just a direct neural input, but unless Narth was part of the Virtu I wasn't so sure they could fool him with a simulation for long. Everything felt real even the smells and that was something no Virtu as far as I knew could get just right, simply because the smell of sense was more than all the other senses based on memory and everyone interpreted and everyone had just a little different ideas and memories about smells and so Virtu world makers never really managed to get the more subtle smells right. It wasn't all that far to walk and I covered the three or four Klicks quite quickly. The house and the tents looked quite inviting. Whatever the challenges were tomorrow and I was certain whatever this was had just started, could wait until I had a nice hot shower and a few hours sleep.

There were five Guard posts with two cadets each, one the roof and one on each corner of our little compound. I did not want to get shot and called out to the post on the North West corner, the one I was approaching. There was no response!

I managed to reach the post unchallenged and I could feel my own anger rise! No one on Nilfeheim would ever abandon a post like that! It wasn't abandoned after all! I found only one Cadet and he was comfortably reclined and looked like he was sleeping.

I did not know his name but I cursed at him." When you are on guard, you don't sleep, Mister!"

He looked up without moving much." You are not in charge here anymore! Cadet Swybin is! I decided to be on his side. He already called his father and the instructors will be here tomorrow and everyone that listened to you will be in trouble!"

Besides Jack is with me and he is awake. He just went over to the trees to take a leak!"

I said to him as calm as I could." You are on guard post, Mister and you will keep your eyes open and ears open until you are properly relieved. I know you have learned the Eleven General Orders for a guard just like I have. I will deal with this Swybin now once and for all…"

A high pitched scream of a person in pain came from the Jungle's edge. The cadet before me lost his entire swagger."Sir that was Jack!"

There was no rest for me tonight so it seemed. I turned and ran after the scream. I did not really surprise me that Swybin made trouble, but I wondered how he had convinced Narth. Maybe it was true and he somehow had the means of contacting the Instructors and they already received new orders and perhaps the word of an Admirals son did mean more than regulations. If he was the son of an Admiral he basically grew up in the Navy and knew more about the reality of things than we all did.

I reached the forest edge and it looked like a solid dark wall. I stopped and forced my breath go slow down so I could hear. I jumped almost out of my skin when Narth suddenly appeared next to me and he pointed to a smashed path, made by something large. "He is alive and is dragged this way! I rushed into the direction he had pointed and despite the fact that no starlight penetrated the forest roof. Eerie glowing tree trunks illuminated the surroundings with a faint bluish light, plenty of light for my eyes adapted to dark oceans. Even though I had this new sense growing in me, I still preferred my eyes. He was no longer floating but walking like me along the narrow path of bend and smashed thicket. "I am sure glad to see you!"

"I am sorry. I think I have failed you, but after I have brought the female Cadet to the Infirmary, I did as you said and experimented with sleep. I only woke mere moments ago as I heard the scream and received the strong thoughts of distress."

"I don't blame you for doing what I said you should, but this cursed Swybin is causing problems!"

"I am sensing the thoughts now. Most of the Cadets have been locked away in the basement storage room and are guarded!

I was going as fast as the thicket let me and said." We deal with that later. The guy we following is he still alive?"

"Yes he is, and it appears we are gaining slowly! I estimate the distance now less than 1500 meters."

Let's hope the beast is not slowing down for dinner. There is only one reason why an animal would drag something that far."

"There is a reason why the beast is doing that?"

"Wild animals don't do things for fun, or like to spend unnecessary energy. I bet there is a nest somewhere with young and we are pursuing one of the parent beasts and judging by the previous attacks these predators do not hunt alone but in packs. So we might be faced with more than one animal."

"Your knowledge and intuition about nature is truly fascinating!" Then he asked:" Many of the others experience an emotion called fright. Aren't you afraid? You charged these animals armed with nothing more than a primitive axe and now you are pursuing one through this alien landscape!"

"I am afraid all the time, but it doesn't affect me much as long as there is something I can do about it. I was raised hunting huge carnivorous fish in a very dangerous environment. This is scary I tell you, but real fear I learned of my father so I am used to fear I guess; besides a Vibro-Axe isn't exactly all that primitive. And what about you? You don't strike me the as the big outdoors type. Unless you are invulnerable or something like that."

"I am as vulnerable as you and my physical body is not much different from yours, and you could say it is the first time I am experience outdoors in quite this way."

"So why are you not afraid then?"

"This is a good question! Logic dictates I should feel fear. This is an unfamiliar environment and there to many primitive life forms around us, without sentience but almost everything around us feels hunger, fear and aggression!" There was a pause." I am afraid!"

Then he disappeared!

Splendid! First he didn't know what fear was and now I made him realize it! Good going Eric! I was trying to catch my breath, but dared not to slow down. I was the only hope the cadet had. I just wished I did not have to face a whole herd of these things.

Narth reappeared and kept effortlessly pace with me." Yes I am afraid but I am not helpless and I am not alone. I apologize for leaving. It was quite a new emotion I must say and my first reaction was to get away!" Narth grabbed me by the shoulder and jerked me back with force. At the same moment something broke through the jungle floor in an explosion of leaves and wet dirt. Sharp mandibles clacked together before a ring mouth filled with sharp teeth, missing my head by less than a centimeter. I swung the axe before I knew I was doing it, blood sprayed me for the second time this night and I had cut the creature in half. It was large centipede, multi segmented thing with six small eyes still fixed on me. I took a deep breath:" that was close! Thank you Narth! You saved my life twice today already"

"No mention is necessary. The being caught me by surprise as well. It has no detectable thoughts and its primitive neural impulses blended in well with all the others around us. Logic dictates that saving the life of a friend is an endeavor worth pursuing"

I wiped sweat, blood and pieces of foliage of my face and we kept pressing on. After a few hundred meters more, Narth stopped and pointed between two bushes. "Cadet Jack Landon is right behind these branches and there are a number of animals with strong hunger emotions."

"We do it as before." I whispered. "I fight the beast and as soon as it lets go of the cadet you take him and get him back as fast as you can to the camp."

"What about you?"

"No time to arg…" I had no longer time or air to spare to finish what I wanted to say. The lizard beast had just broken through the thicket before us and it directed a terrible hissing scream at us. The Lizards maw hovered only inches before me but did not move. It was as if its head was caught in an invisible trap. I did not waist the opportunity and chopped the beasts head off. I needed several swings but it was more butchering than fighting with the animals head held by Narth Psionics.

We passed by the still twitching cadaver and found the badly wounded cadet, much of his legs already gone , ripped apart by four little lizards in a nest! I felt remorse as I killed the young, but I had to get them off the terribly wounded man and Narth snatched the Cadet and disappeared."

I took a breather but I knew I could not stay. I was certain there was an army of beasts smelling the blood and ready to fight for it. So I went back in the general direction from where we came. I had to fight three more of the centipedes, was stung by the needle sharp leaves of a bush as I evaded something large I did not want to see close up, only to run into something large with lots of teeth and claws that looked quite different from the other lizards and had many more legs and a snake like body. Of course I did not expect Narth to return. Most likely he was exhausted from doing that teleportation and even if he returned I was already several Klicks away from the lizard nest, but I could not deny a certain disappointment. Finally I made it out of the jungle and stood on the banks of a river or lake and I realized I went into the wrong direction. I usually had a good sense of direction but it was difficult to keep a straight line of walking in a dark foreign jungle without any landmarks to go by. I was certain I would not find my way back to the nest not in the dark. The stars I could see them now, they were brilliant and beautiful but foreign and gave me no clue as to where I would have to go. The best thing for me to do was to wait till day break and then trace my own tracks back from where I came from.

I went back to the jungle's edge, climbed a tree and made myself comfortable to wait for the first light of day.

------------Edit

It was a miserable night and I felt stiff and cold. The bush that had stung me had left little bleeding wounds that itched like hell over my hands and face. I almost nodded off, when I heard a faint metallic sound and then again, I closed my eyes and through all the mess and confusion of so many life forms around me emitting electrical nerve impulses. I clearly could feel two upright walking beings. I could only feel their heads; it seemed the rest of their bodies did not emit Neuro electric impulses. They were now close enough for me to open my eyes. Two men in battle armor and big blasters penetrated the thicket. They didn't look like marines and I saw no rank or unit designation. Perhaps they were responsible for the missing Instructors, pirates, spies or enemies of some kind. Somewhere in that general direction was the base and I doubted my Cadet friends were up to repulsing the attack of even one professional with full working battle armor. I needed to act fast, before they had a chance to activate their shields.

I jumped smashing my heels into the first and swinging my axe against the weapon hand of the other. He screamed both in pain and in panic while I went down with the first. Had he worn a helmet, I would have not been able to knock him out like that, he grunted in pain and went limb. Still on the move I took his gun. It was a fleet issue TKU and dialed it with my thumb to max aiming it at the wounded." Drop your weapon and power down your suit. You can't establish your shields fast enough to deflect a Max level blast!" I was certain he heard the faint beeping of me dialing the weapon to its highest setting. He held his cut hand but did not say anything just stared into the muzzle of the TKU

"I am not going to repeat myself mister!"

Bright lights suddenly flooded the scene. A new voice out of the lights said." Cadet, I am Commander Letsgo. These are instructors looking for you. You may lower your axe and the TKU!"I got to my feet and I saw a Fleet Officer and six Marines in Heavy Battle armor step into the light.

I got up and saluted." Cadet Olafson, Sir!"

The dark shadow behind the bright lights looked human and he stemmed his fists in his hips. "The Neo Viking, I know!"

The real Camp Idyllic so it turned out was about hundred kilometers away from the landing field and the wooden houses. It was a collection of buildings in the middle of the Jungle covered with soil and foliage, undetectable from above. Theflyer that brought the Commander, the Marines, the two instructors and me to this place hovered over a jumble of green moss covered rocks and fallen trees that turned out to be camouflage to a vehicle elevator as the scenery split in the middle and the flyer descended on a platform into the underground base.

Without saying so much as five words to me, an Ensign in black uniform led me to a large hall

The other cadets were already here and standing in the reception hall with green carpets and windows that allowed a view of the jungle and a lake that shimmered in the distance between tall trees and thick underbrush. All eyes turned to me as I entered, but no one spoke. Narth stood in the back and waved and I took the spot next to him and waited for whatever was about to happen. The Commander stepped behind a lectern and he was accompanied by a dark fur covered being to his left and a Pan Saran Officer to the right. Commander Letsgo looked less human than he did during the brief encounter in the dark jungle. His skin had a metallic dull color and he had neither ears nor a real nose. His head was completely hairless and the eyes looked like cybernetic implants.

"He is a Stellaris." I could hear Narth's whisper as if his lips where direct next to me, but he had not moved." Bionetic engineered of Terran origin, to survive with minimal protection in deep space."

The Commander gave us all a long look then he began:" Good morning Cadets. I am Commander Letsgo and I am in command of this training facility. To my left is Commander Propeel. Some of you may recognize her to be a Nu-Uiit she is my Executive Officer. To my right you see Lieutenant Aurelius'; he is Pan Saran and your Chief Instructor.

"You will spend the next eight standard months on and around Camp Idyllic in Basic training. As the name suggests it is where you learn all the basics you need to know as members of this Fleet.

"You learn to be soldiers and officers. It is our job to educate, train, and inspire you the Corps of Cadets so that those who complete this graduate as commissioned leaders of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, and Union and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United Stars Fleet. That means we must make sure that you are indeed officer material.

"The United Stars Fleet is unlike any other organization you might be familiar with. We are not a Club or Association, not a Corporation or a Church or whatever other civilian organizations there might be. The United Stars Fleet is one of the military arms of our union with many missions. We explore space, make sure the Union is safe from outside threats, and police the trade routes and the space inside Union space so commerce and peaceful interaction between all members is possible.

"You are here to aspire to be more than soldiers. We want you to be scientists, diplomats, explorers and above all we want you to be officers. Perhaps you are sick and tired to hear us say and stress this world so much, but we want to drive it home to you that it is not a word but a condition, a way of life.

"As you probably noticed, many thousands applied with you and many more have done so at one of the 164 Academy satellites to become Fleet Officers. Of all those applicants only about 20 percent make it to the final year and graduate.

"As I mentioned before Instructing and teaching you is only a small part of what this Basic training camp is all about. We test character, abilities and personal values. Knowledge can be learned, skills can be taught but there are aspects to each personality already there, aspects that make each of you a distinguishable individual. The Fleet looks back at 3000 years of history and tradition. Many ways of finding good personnel and officers have been tried, using the combined experience and knowledge of all member species. Neural Uploads, Genetic engineering, mental prenatal conditioning, robots, cyborg, androids and combinations of all these methods have been tried and none yielded the same results as the training and selection program we are using now.

"Officers even more than Enlisted are ambassadors, representatives of these traditions and values and we developed a complicated but proven process to weed out those unfit to wear this uniform."

He paused for a moment and scanned the room from left to right:" When you were and left alone on the landing field, it was a staged scenario in order for us to see how you adapt to new situations that have not been anticipated.

"You see, as an Officer it is very likely you come across an unexpected situation in the course of your career. A situation not trained for, not covered in any regulation and still it is expected from you to make the right decisions. It doesn't matter how much training one has or what regulations he or she knows. When it comes to the unknown it is just that, unknown and unprecedented.

"You had basically two options last night. Remain on the landing field or occupy the buildings. And both choices have been made. One group went to the buildings, broke locks, liberated equipment and damaged Fleet property, but they were warm, safe had food and shelter. The other group remained where they had been dropped off, sticking to the order exactly as given by the Shuttle pilot. That group was cold, suffered a severe brake down in morale and had casualties. One leader used physical violence and verbal threats to gain obedience. The other simply took the initiative and was chosen. I am asking you which were the better solutions to the given situation?"

The commander pointed a finger at Swybin. "Why don't you answer me that question, Cadet?"

Swybin straightened his stanch and said: "The loss of personnel can be expected in hostile environment and a few dead men should not change the objectives their leader demands to be reached.

"Just like every commanding officer I expected casualties and punished those disobeying to assure them that. Of course I was raised by an Admiral, my father. This is why only I was qualified to be in command. These are soldiers after all. It is imperative that any soldier or service person carries out orders exactly as given. The common soldier cannot base his or her decision to follow and order on potential danger, even deadly threat. He or she must remain at post. It is not important if that soldier is warm and well fed, out of harm's way or safe. It is however important that he keeps his post and obeys every order given by a Superior and thus assures said officer's safety! The average foot soldier is expendable and that is what they are for. A person of my background is of course much more valuable, than a common as dirt average Joe cadet. I fully expect you will ask me to forgo much of this basic training and to join the ranks of Command staff and instructors right away."

He crossed his arms and looked very self-assured into the room. "I told you they would listen to me. It is too late to ask for any leniency."

Turning his attention back to Letsgo he concluded. "So without question my decisions were the correct ones. I am fully prepared to be a witness at the court-martial proceedings of this imbecile brutish Neo Viking Olafson, Sir!"

The Commanders artificial looking face did not change its expression as he looked around and pointed at me." Cadet Swybin made his statement and answered my question. "Now answer my question as well."

"Sir, the pilot said: Wait here and he did not specify were exactly we had to wait. Here could mean the entire planet for all I know, he was a shuttle pilot after all As far as I knew it wasn't even a real order, just instructions. The Pilot did not identify himself with rank or name. He could have been a civilian employee for all we knew. In any case there were buildings only two clicks away. After no one came for hours, those buildings looked like the logical waiting place to me. Since I didn't know what delayed you, our instructors.

So in my opinion it was necessary to make the best of the situation. The buildings provided us with that option. Anyone looking for us would certainly look in those buildings, besides I posted guards that would have seen any approaching ship or search party.

It all really started when another Cadet started to quote regulations and hand books and general orders and all that." I sighed and said." That matters little however as I accepted command and therefore I take full responsibility for the break in and the use of Fleet property. All the others acted under my instructions and orders, Sir!"

"So you are willing to accept all responsibility for everything?"

"Yes Sir."

Swybin laughed with a snorting sound:" Wonderful, have Olafson arrested Sir! He has confessed and accepted his guilt! I believe a nice flogging is in order, before we hang him. Floggings are still on the books I believe!" He laughed pleased and added." Of course I will convey to my father how diligent you execute your post! I am sure the word of an Admiral has much weight when your next promotion will be discussed."

The Commander glanced at Swybin:" How nice of you. So if I have that Cadet arrested and punished you make sure I get a promotion?"

Swybin looked around to make sure everyone saw how important he was." Arrangements can be made most certainly, Commander, My father is Rear Admiral Upper half Swybar, you have heard of him of course. There are few of more importance in this fleet of ours and of course he listens to my recommendations!"

Again he looked around to make sure all eyes were on him." I accompanied my father to every important posting. I am on first name basis with much of the Echelon of this fleet. I even once saw the Admiral of the Fleet himself and in person! From early on I was called the little Admiral and I am sure in no time at all I am going to join Fleet Command."

"You are not a commanding officer. Your father's position and rank makes no difference to your performance, conduct or status. Yes we expect our soldiers, service personnel and spacemen to follow orders and execute them regardless of possible danger or personal comforts but an officer is not only responsible to achieve the objectives of an order given but is also responsible for each and every being under his or her command." The commander tried to stay calm. "I have never seen such a severe case of egocentric, self-importance and I cannot understand how you managed to pass the Psych Exams and tests."

The metallic faced commander turned to us: If we wanted blind obedience we could send robots and not beings. We want officers that are able to think and question orders. Every time you receive an order you must evaluate it and decide if you follow it or not. In the far distant past horrible crimes were committed and those committing them refused to accept responsibility because they were ordered to do so.

When you leave this auditorium, stop a moment and look at the Academy Flag and read the motto underneath our logo: It is an ancient quote from pre Astro earth: Quiz custodiet ipsos custodes? And it means translated who will guard the Guards. We are not the Marines, who are trained to prize unquestioning loyalty and bravery as the highest ideals. We want thinking beings knowing when to follow an order and when not. It is often difficult to decide which orders to interpret and which ones follow by the letter or even refuse to execute. Don't understand this wrong. Mutiny is a serious crime, disobedience is severely punished. It is very complicated but we expect each officer to make this decision for every order and every day. This is why robots cannot replace us."

He paused and slowly shook his head as he continued:" I experienced a lot, Cadet Swybin, but that is a first. Trying to bribe me right out in the open. I am not impressed by your fathers rank, nor am I impressed by your conduct out there. Assuring obedience by violence is despicable."

"I have you sent to Arsenal II and charged with the attempted murder of Cadet Owar and a host of other charges, none the least trying to bribe me! Let me assure you there will be a full investigation as how you managed to even get this far."

Swybin was caught off guard by this and started to protest:" I have your head for this! I am a Swybin!"

Letsgo gestured to a marine standing by the doors." Get him out of here of this Installation at once!"

The Commander returned his attention to me while Swybin was escorted outside." I commend you for your performance and actions. I especially liked the Dinner and your acts of bravery to save fellow officers. However you failed the test as well. Do you know why you failed?"

I pressed my teeth together and nodded. "Yes Sir, I think I know."

Letsgo pointed at Wintsun." You seem to know the regulation handbook by heart. Do you know why he failed?"

Wintsun was caught off guard and shrugged." Sir, I memorized the General Orders because my brother said they always come up in tests. It does not make me an expert in evaluating another cadet's action, but I think Eric did a great job, Sir."

"Mr. Olafson. Why do you think you failed?"

"I feel responsible for the wounded cadets, Sir. I should have done something much earlier."

"And responsible you are! Just like Cadet Wintsun put on record. You are in charge of the post and all government property within control reach. The second you accepted command you assumed responsibility over all personnel in your unit. If you would have arrested Swybin, took all cadets to the houses you would have scored the perfect for this test. Once you took command, storming off to save others is commendable but also wrong. You were responsible for all and should have delegated and organized a rescue party. Command is not easy and sometimes staying behind and let others do the action can be quite difficult.

"You also broke into the Armory locker. It was clearly off limits and marked Authorized Personnel only! Do you have anything to say for your defense?"

"Yes Sir! I did not break the lock it accepted my authority and thus made me Authorized."

"Slick answer I give you that. But why did you open it?"

"Sir we did not know what happened to you. We speculated and quite aware that this could have been a test, but you also could have been delayed or killed by a hostile force either native or foreign to this world. Later events made me glad I did open that gun cabinet."

He whispered to the furry Lt Commander and then said. "I will announce your punishment later. Now I am going to dismiss you so you can clean up, unless someone else has something to add."

Narth floated just a little off the floor making him quite visible." Sir, I am sharing his punishment."

To my surprise Limbur stepped forward." I will share it as well!"

The black skinned girl stepped next to Limbur." So will me, Sir."

More and more cadets did the same!

The Cadet that had been unconscious said:" Sir, his actions saved my life. I will gladly take the punishment for him."

And yet another said. "I was dragged through the jungle, half dead. I held to Swybin at first, but Olafson went after me. Not even my friends did that. I volunteer to take whatever punishment you have for him." Morthil, covered in bandages gave me a thankful look and thumbs up.

The Commander crossed his arms looked us over." We will take this in consideration. Now you are dismissed. You will be assigned to dorms and allowed an eight hour resting period." Next Chapter: Basic training

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