[Vol. 1 pt. 19] Standing Few; Training
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I wish that waking up to this sensation didn’t feel as good as it does.

Feeling Kate cuddled up against my side in her sleep reminds me of how things used to – of how I thought things always would be.

She’s got some stupid smile on her face, too. Must be dreaming. No idea when she came back last night, but she must have been careful not to wake me up.

I wish I could figure out how to make her always that considerate.

Getting out of bed without waking her up would be difficult since she’s got her arm and leg on me, but there’s one secret that has always proved effective against her.

A simple poke of her nose and she completely unwraps herself from me.

No idea why it works, but it always has. Ever since we were teens.

Walking out into the living room, I see… Tabitha, her head stuck in her shirt, passed out on the couch.

For being older than me, she’s one fucking brat.

Damn it. Now I’ll have to make her breakfast.

An hour later and I’m in my new classroom looking through everything that my old instructor left behind.

One of the only things that’s missing is her old whip. I don’t think I’d use it even if it was here, but I do remember how much trouble she got in every time she took it off her hip. Now that I think about it…

She had a whip, somehow had custom-made boots with high heels, and – was my instructor a fucking dominatrix? No, Lance, don’t start fucking imagining that old Polish woman as a dominatrix in her spare time. That’s something nobody needs to imagine.

The door to the room opens. Probably Valkyrie since she was the early one yesterday.

Instead…

“Sir!” Shitger says.

“It’s too early to deal with you, Shitger. Wait outside until everybody else is here,” I say.

“S-sir, if it’s alright, I had some questions about the book.”

Oh? This brat actually did his reading? Here I thought that they’d wait until the last minute to memorize it. “Alright, Shitger. Take a seat and ask away.”

“Sir, thank you, sir.”

“Drop the fucking sirs. You’ve already proved you know when to say it, so you only need to do it around those higher-ups with the sticks up their asses.”

“Si—aren’t we always supposed to—”

“Do you understand who’s in charge?”

“You.”

“Then what’s it matter if you call me sir or not as long as you know to listen to me? Respect authority, don’t kiss its ass. At least address me by rank instead of that if you have to.” I know that these cadets are probably trained to be proper little fucks, but I have no interest in wasting time on useless bullshit like that. Calling somebody “sir” in the middle of combat isn’t going to save them. Knowing how to survive will. Plus, it’s just fucking annoying to constantly be called that. “Now, what are your questions?”

“Well – it’s just… a lot of it was written only in consideration of fighting other humans. That’s not who our enemy is, so I’m not sure I understand what good it is reading it.”

“Who said humans aren’t our enemies?”

“The last battle between humans was over a decade ago, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, and if you think that we’re not going to get revenge on those bastards for everything they’ve done to us over the past sixty years, you’re a fucking idiot.”

“Even if we take back the west coast… how could we go against an entire empire? They have over a thousand times our population, don’t they? And they have to be fortified, better tech, and—”

“We’ll figure it out when it happens. For now, memorize every fucking word of the books I make you read. Only humans will be left after we exterminate the demons, and we’re going to be up against an enemy who’s really fucking good at killing humans.”

“I agree,” Valkyrie says, standing in the doorway. Seems like her voice is enough to instantly make Shitger here blush.

“You’re never going to be a pilot if you blush just because a girl is around,” I tell Shitger.

Shitger clears his throat and looks away.

“When the time comes, we need to strike at where our enemy is weak, when we are prepared and they are unprepared, and break their resistance with as little fighting as possible,” Valkyrie says.

Good. Shitger here isn’t the only brat who read the book.

“Shouldn’t we be learning how to fight our current enemy instead of one we might be fighting later?” Shitger asks.

“I’m preparing you for every fight, Shitger. I’m preparing you for the fight today, tomorrow, next week, and the one five years from now. I plan on turning the maggots who survive this first week into warriors who can excel at every fight against every enemy,” I explain.

The rest of the cadets start coming into the room now.

Including the girl who was sent to the infirmary, who should be fine now, four maggots are missing.

One girl looks particularly scared of me. Brown hair, ponytail… something about her stands out, but at the same time, nothing does. She’s plain. She’s also shaking and looks like she’s about to cry now that I’m glaring at her.

That’s right. That terrified expression of hers – she’s the girl from when I was pretending to grab her ponytail while chasing everybody yesterday.

“I’ll tear that ponytail off of you if I ever catch it,” I tell her, causing her to jump in her seat.

For fuck’s sake. How somebody like her got this far, I have no idea.

A young girl with a ponytail. Ponytail. Pony. Young. Girl. “Do you think I’m joking, Filly?” I ask, trying out her new nickname. I might have to upgrade it at some point like I did with Shitger’s since I feel like it could be better- more degrading.

“Si-si-sir! No, s-sir!” Filly answers as her eyes quiver.

“You sure you don’t think I’m joking? You look like you want to laugh at me.” Really, she just looks fucking terrified and that smile on her face can’t be from anything other than nervous fear.

“Po-positive, sir!”

“Good. Now, stop fucking shaking. You’re going to be the one to clean everything if you piss yourself, and I doubt anybody other than Shitger wants to smell that.”

Looking around to see who else is in here… looks like about what I expected. The ones not in here are all the ones who I thought looked the weakest. Well, except for Shitger and Filly. I’m pretty amazed that they’re both here. It almost makes me proud of them.

“I hope you brats got a good night’s sleep, because yesterday was just a warm-up for today. Real training will start today. But, before we go on a run, we’ve got a fun little game to play. We’re going to bond, doesn’t that sound nice?” I ask them.

That’s something I remember my instructor did for us. She made us hate her, and she beat us down and broke us into fragmented pieces of shit worth nothing, but she then built us all up and made us into something greater than we were before. Part of the process involves joining these brats together. They need to learn to trust and respect each other if they want to make it through this. None of them are going to make it through by being a lone wolf, but they will make it through my training as long as they work together.

Part of my mind tells me that it’d be best to train them as individual killers who all excel at everything – masters of all trades. But, that’s not how this world works. People don’t work like that. No matter how hard some of them might train, somebody else will be better than them at something.

They will be broken down and mixed together, and then shaped into a single machine of war that makes perfect use of all its components with each one excelling at its own task.

First, though, I need to make sure that all of this machine’s components are only going to be of the highest quality. As much as I aim to make them work together, that means nothing if one faulty part breaks down and ruins the machine.

“Now, let’s start with you, Shitger,” I say. “What is your greatest fear?”

“Not being able to do anything?” Shitger answers, not even sounding sure of it himself.

“Did I ask you to guess what your greatest fear is, or did I ask you what it is?”

“I’m – I’m not sure what it is.”

Valkyrie has her hand raised.

“What’s yours, Valkyrie?” I ask her.

“Dying before I can avenge my grandfather, and holding others back,” Valkyrie answers.

Looks like we might have something in common. “You ready to give a real answer now, Shitger?” I ask.

Shitger nods and says, “Failing to help my friends and protect the people I care about.”

“That’s better. You better work your ass off if you don’t want that to happen, because you’ve got a lot of fucking work before you’re anything but a useless maggot. Now, Filly.”

Filly jumps up and looks like she’s about to cry again before shouting out, “Y-you, sir!”

At least she’s honest. That look in her eyes convinces me that I really am her greatest fear, too.

“Muscles?” I ask.

“Dying alone, sir,” Muscles answers.

“Don’t worry, Muscles. Even if you wash out and prove that you’re nothing but a worthless piece of shit, there are still enough women looking to skip service by being breeders. You can have a dozen brats screaming and crying by tomorrow if you really want to. Next. Samurai?”

“Sir, I want to make the world a better place for my little brother, so my greatest fear is not,” Samurai pauses. She looks… like she’s holding something back? “Apologies, sir. My greatest fear is failing my little brother.”

Valkyrie isn’t the only one I can relate to then.

Overall, those were some good answers aside from Muscles’. I don’t know if he’ll be able to properly motivate himself to survive and kill as much of the enemy as he can if his greatest fear is dying alone.

Time to go through the rest of these brats.

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