With Trace observing, the rest of the day went at a slow and monotonous pace, with each recruit attempting the course one after another, but this time Trace was an observer.
Casually, Trace walked over to Damien, who was leaning against a nearby wall in the observation room.
"Heya." Trace said to him. "Hey." Was his response.
"How'd you do on the course? I'm sorry, I wasn't watching during your run, I was resting my eyes." As Trace said this, Damien rolled his eyes. "Figures that only you could sleep while standing up with the squad leader watching. Anyways, you're still the fastest time at ten minutes three seconds. I'm at fifth place roughly, for now, with thirteen minutes and 25 seconds." Damien delivered this news straight faced, seemingly undisturbed by the fact that they were all failing.
"Wait, let me get this straight: I did best? Seriously? Awesome!" He said, glee evident on his face.
Damien's face fell. "Yeah, good for you."
Trace, realizing how insensitive he was being, attempted to repair the conversation while he still could. "Hey, I'm still failing with the rest of us, so we're all in this together!"
Damien glanced up, and the hint of a smile played on his lips. "Yeah, I guess so. If we're screwed, then so are you!"
Later that day, after a few hours of them just watching the rest of the recruits fail the course, none beating Trace, they went to a large open room, filled with tables and benches. It looked quite like a cafeteria.
Turning to them, Commander Westcott began yelling yet again. "This is the mess hall! This is where you will eat! Personally, I don't know why we bother with a dedicated room! You maggots can't appreciate what you have anyway!"
Many of the recruits, excluding Trace, cringed at this. Trace however kept his face straight, not revealing his true emotions.
Commander Westcott turned his back to the recruits, and began walking out of the room. "Since you all failed, none of you will be using this room tomorrow! Return to your bunks! Lights out at 8!"
Glancing at his watch, Trace noticed it was 7:12 PM currently. "Sir?" Trace asked the commander before he could walk out. "What do we do until 8?"
Turning back to face Trace, annoyance on his face, he responded. "As long as you are back in your bunks by 8, I don't give a damn how you waste your time."
The recruits looked at each other, and began talking. Walking over to Damien, Trace asked, "You up for exploring this base with me?" Damien responded "No thanks, personally I'm kind of tired."
"Suit yourself," Trace said, "but I'll be exploring this place".
Beginning to walk down the first hallway, he saw, Trace saw a sign that said "Maintenance" above a doorway. Walking into the room, Trace found a huge amount if equipment lying around the room, in varying states of disrepair or disassembly.
Noticing a combat drone armed with dual machine guns sitting on a nearby table, Trace walked over and begin inspecting it. The drone appeared to be in relatively good condition, it just needed some new circuitry and a processing core.
As Trace began fishing and replacing parts for the drone, he was lost in his work, until his wristband buzzed. As he looked down at the display, he noticed a message labeled "L. Westcott".
The message was read "All recruits, lights out in 10 minutes. If you are not in your bunks by lights out, you will be punished." Trace immediately panicked, and rushed out of the room into the hallway, soon realizing he was completely lost.
Quickly checking his wristband, he found a button labeled "map", and pressed it. An electronic voice said "Where would you like to go?"
Trace was momentarily confused, until he realized the voice was coming from his wristband. "The bunk room! As fast as possible!"
As Trace looked at the map, pulsating red lines appeared on it, apparently leading the way to the bunk room.
Immediately breaking into a run, he followed the path perfectly, not taking a single wrong turn or hesitating.
In only a few minutes, Trace found himself outside the bunk room, breathing heavily. As their bunk was nearest to the door, Damien looked over and saw Trace.
"Dude, are you OK? You look like you ran a marathon or something!" Damien said.
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine. Just was panicking about getting back in time." He responded.
"Well, you made it! With three minutes to spare, no less! Where were you anyways?"
Trace hesitated, having a gut feeling to keep what he found to himself. "Oh, I was just looking around…"
"For 50 minutes or so? How big is this place?" Damien looked at Trace with suspicion written all over his face.
"This place is huge! What we saw today was just the tip of the iceberg!" Trace responded, attempting to keep his deceit hidden.
"Geez. That's crazy!"
"I know!" Trace said, changing out of his uniform and climbing into his bunk. "The military really does keep the best of everything for itself!" He said.
"Lights out!" Commander Westcott walked into the room, checking to see that everyone was in the bunk room.
As the commander flicked what must have been a light switch, the room was plunged into pitch blackness, not a speck of light making it through the airtight door.
As other recruits began snoring, Trace lay there, unable to sleep due to his mind racing a hundred miles a minute, thinking about what could happen tomorrow, ways to make the drone better, and so on and so forth.
Trace got the worst night of sleep of his life that night.
So! Jesus Christ! A little bit more than an hour, and we’ve hit 250 VIEWS. That’s more than I’ve gotten from months of being on archiveofourown! Amazing!!! Thank you so much! Sure, not a single rating or power stone, but I don’t mind! Just knowing that someone, somewhere has seen my work is extremely motivating!
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