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[VE-ARMY] Private First Class
Post Number:  13
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  Academy Training
January 8, 2016 3:22:33 PM    View the profile of Tetrarch 
Academy training post, just fleshing out my character a bit. Criticism welcome.

Cathal halted as the figure in front of him slowed. He gently dropped into a crouch, holding steady while the other turned. With deliberate effort, he kept his breathing slow and steady, barely making a sound. He didn't dare move a muscle as the other figure took a couple of steps in his direction. You'll just make it easier for them to see you if you move, he reminded himself. Especially in a forest at night. He was just about able to make out the trooper turning to scan before he resumed his previous direction.

Someone swore a few metres to the left and was immediately barked at by an NCO to be quiet. There was the sound of wood cracking and several weapons swung towards the noise, an embarrassed trooper hissing not to fire “Friendly!”. Cathal was grinning inside, he let his left hand feel out to his side, touching the reassuring texture of tree bark and moss, using this as his guide, he inched forward a little more. 

The stormtrooper ahead of him swore to himself as he stumbled on a root, Cathal bit his lip to stop a chuckle. Can't see too well now can you? He rose slowly, making sure not to straighten up fully and began his creep onwards. His right hand tightened on the hilt of his weapon, the stormtrooper was so close now that he could touch him. Cathal held his breath....and struck.

Cathal stabbed forward, right at the point between neck and shoulder, his left arm grabbing the stormtrooper. The soldier convulsed and went still, Cathal letting him drop as slowly as he could, grunting a bit with the effort. He wasn't overly muscled and the extra weight from the armour made it harder. His heart was beating fast and he was about to stand when a voice called out to him.

“Maike? You okay?”. Cathal coughed and tried to rough up his accent “Yeah, I just tripped, think it's my leg” he said hoarsely, his fingers dancing on his weapon hilt, “That you?” “Yea-” the other began, coming over to check his status. Cathal rose smoothly from his crouch and stabbed right for the throat. It wasn't smooth, it wasn't neat but it worked. But most importantly, this time it wasn't quiet. The trooper hit the ground hard, a deadwood branch snapping under the weight.

All around him, yells and cries split the air. Blaster fire began to stream in all directions, he had fleeting glimpses of running figures, his night vision ruined from the firefight. Cursing, Cathal stooped to unsling his blaster rifle.

He didn't expect a chokehold.

A shadow moved. The brawny arm locked around his throat and panic set in. Cathal panicked as instinct took over, his hands making a grab for his assiliant's arm. He was writhing like a snake but the other's grip just tightened. He tried to cry out but he couldn't take in air, his struggles were weakening and then, very gently, something edged prodded his belly. “You're dead” came a whisper.

Illumination flares shot up and a few seconds later, floodlights began to spark into life, making eyes water as they lit up the forest with harsh artificial light. Groaning figures picked themselves up off the ground while a shout for a medic was echoed, one of the ambushers had broken an ankle.

The grip on his throat relaxed and Cathal fell forward onto his hands and knees gasping for air. He pushed himself up, face burning while his hand massaged at his throat. A scout sergeant stood there, his broad figure barely restrained by his armour. Camoflaged, he was easy to make out now under the lights, not so much in near pitch black.

They'd been issued with stun-batons for this exercise, on low-charge but still enough to hurt. What Instructor-Sergeant Okorie was sheathing was most definitely not that. A good 20cm of sharp metal, he'd rubbed dirt in it to stop it reflecting light. He caught Cathal's look and shrugged, the gesture exaggerated to compensate for the armour, “Old habits”.

From one of the gantries flanking the training bay, an officer shouted “Four minutes to reset, grab water, check your kit” the cry was echoed by other supervisors. Cathal was still massaging at his throat. Unlike the ambushed, the attackers were dressed in a hodgepodge mixture of kit, anarchic to a professional's eyes and meant to play the part of Rebel guerillas or partisans.

“Why didn't you see them Garmik?” an instructor was demanding of one of the stormtroopers who'd been downed in close quarters. “The moisture, the cold, it was playing havoc with my helmet sergeant” the recruit defended, “I assumed-” his comment was cut off by the sergeant's hand rapping off his helmet rhythmnically. “Do. Not. Assume! Forests tend to be wet, they can be cold too, they can be hot and everything in between. Your kit won't always functioning but you have to be!”.

The instructor sighed and shook his head theatrically, “Grab some water, get ready for the reset” he told him in dismissal. Some of the recruits needed help to be stood up, ambusher and ambushed a like getting an earful from the instructors.  Another corporal was yelling in a shame-faced recruit's ear while pointing at two of the downed targets. "Two of your own guys Buiew? 'Light 'em up' doesn't mean blast your own side!". In front of Cathal, Okorie was removing his helmet, a gloved hand rubbing at close-cropped hair before he deigned to pay attention to the recruit. “Well?”

Cathal swallowed, it still hurt to speak. “I didn't watch my six Sergeant”. Okorie nodded sagely as if the recruit had told him a universal truth like water is wet. “Got cocky didn't ya? You were enjoying having some of them blunder about like Trandoshans at a Senate Ball” Cathal' stared at him a bit blankly, not sure if he was meant to respond or not. Okorie grunted, “Never was good at analogies” he admitted before he jerked his head at one of the instructor-corporals. “Ll'bphak? The count?”.

The corporal turned from his dataslate, “Ambushers in the sixties sarge, the armoured boys...fifty and that's being generous”. Okorie nodded and pointed at Cathal, “Well?”. Nervously aware under the attention of two NCOs, he needed the prodding. “We heard them coming sergeant, we slipped a half dozen of us in, me, Krzystki, O'f'alca, W-” Okorie held up his hand “Ok I got it, Ll'bphak?”. The corporal shrugged, “They got eight sarge before it went loud. Might have been more but Mckarthaigh and Wolji were messy. ”.

Cathal tensed but Okorie was nodding, “How did you adjust to the dark so fast?” “We wore blindfolds, used the bandanas” Cathal answered immediately before adding “Sergeant”. Okorie smiled, just barely but it was there, Cathal relaxed. “The old ways always work best huh? Not bad”. Cathal groaned. The highest praise you were going to get was good. 'Not bad' was filed along with 'Could be better' or 'Room for improvement', all of which meant you weren't off the hook. “With respect Sergeant, my score has consistently been the hi-” he cut off, Okorie's look was enough to shut him up. Okorie didn't rule through shouted commands or bawled orders. Sheer physical presence and menace got him respect.

But the sergeant refrained from drowning him in a marsh puddle. Instead he turned his head to call at one of Cathal's victims, “Maike? What world are you from?”. The recruit looked startled but he obediently bleated out the answer, “Sztuka sergeant” “Got many forests there?” “No sergeant, it's mostly cities an-” Okorie cut him off with a nod, “Get my point Recruit?” he asked Cathal acidly. “Maike probably hadn't seen more than ten trees together a few months back so right now, he's doing 'good'. You on the other hand who actually knows something about this, I expect to be like a bloody ghost. Godlike even. Not noisy enough that even an old shite like myself can slot you”.

“Frackin' swamprat tree-hugging colonials like yourselves always think they can waltz through it. You forget some of us might have more practice than you and the Rebs definitely will”. Now Cathal's surprise showed on his face, “You're not from a forestworld Sergeant?” he asked before he could help himself. Okorie laughed. “Don't think I saw one till I shipped offworld” he responded easily “But I've had lots of practice. Others don't. You help them with what you can, the same way you'll be helped when you don't know something. Been in a desert boy?”. Cathal shook his head hurriedly. “You watch out for your mates, they'll watch out for you. Be a fethin' piece of sithshit, well no need to imagine what'll happen. And of course that's why I'll be less gentle next time if I find you showing off” he warned. “And I'm a damn sight softer than Reb and his buddies”. He waved his hand in dismissal, “Fall out”. Cathal moved, the point made.

He moved to Maike, grimacing at the mark on his neck, the trooper had tugged his bodyglove down and was wincing as his fingers probed it. “Here, I can” Cathal offered awkwardly, Maike's look initially hostile but softening as Cathal took out some gauze and crouched. “I didn't even hear you” he admitted ruefully as the forestworlder dressed the burn. “I've had more than twenty years of practice” Cathal laughed in answer, “Next cycle, I can show you a few tricks if you want?”. Maike shrugged and took the proffered arm to help him up, “I'd like that” he said slowly, replacing his helmet. Cathal bumped his fist with him and jerked his head at an aristocratic recruit barking orders at his section, “Don't worry, this time I'll tag Risach this time” he promised, the Kuati was a renowned martinet. Maike laughed, the sound oddly distorted through the helmet, “Do that and we're even Swamprat”.
[STC] Private 1st Class Cathal "Swamprat" Mckarthaigh.
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