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Author Topic: Fancy Seeing You Here  (Read 1568 times)

Fancy Seeing You Here
« on: December 30, 2017, 03:15:07 PM »
This terrible anxiety wouldn’t last forever, Dalton knew.  In some ways, he was already overcoming it.  He was slowly befriending other cadets, putting names to faces and learning that he was not alone, that there were others who had not chosen to be here but had instead been thrust into the military.  With each passing day, he felt a little calmer, a little more at peace.  There had to be a reason why he had ended up in the Training Corps, some reason that only fate understood.  All he could do was submit, and try his best.

Except, right now, nervousness bloomed, causing his heart to flutter against his ribs.  In an assessment of fitness and teamwork, the cadets had been gathered at the beginning of a long, sprawling obstacle course orchestrated by the instructors.  It could not be navigated by one person alone and so the youths were instructed to arrange themselves into pairs.  But who to team up with?

With the order to form themselves into groups, a clamour broke out, bodies pressing and darting, young voices calling out newly-forged friends or old acquaintances.  Others, like Dalton himself, seemed lost in the bustle.  Feeling self-conscious of his height – already, at sixteen years old, he stood at almost six feet, putting him head and shoulders above almost all the other cadets, and causing him tower over some of the instructors themselves – he bowed his head, sloped his shoulders, and tried to make himself smaller and less obvious.  Unsure of who he was even looking for, Dalton meandered through the jostling crowd, his expression hopeful and timid in equal measure.

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2017, 02:52:52 AM »
An obstacle course! Axel was eager to do something that might turn into a race, to show to others that he was capable of anything their instructors could throw at him. They were all still getting used to one another, meeting, making friends, though he'd been more stuck on making a good impression on those in charge. If he didn't, he'd be going nowhere, and then what would happen? Maybe they could throw him out. Who knew at this stage?

But when it was announced that they'd have to get into pairs, the boy's face turned to a look of horror. How could he pair up with anybody when he barely knew the name of the boy who slept next to him in the barracks? Looking around at the crowd as they jostled around trying to find their best friends, he backed away before he got shoved around - being younger and smaller than a lot of them, he was easily passed over. Once the crowd had thinned, the pairs exiting the throng, he started looking.

A familiar face popped out of the sea of bodies. At first, he thought he might be mistaken, but then he saw the other boy again. Dalton? He hadn't realised the other was there. He didn't look to be with anyone. Seizing his chance, he darted forwards, evading one cadet who almost stepped into him. "Dalton!" he called, ducking under the joined arms of two friends to get to the older boy. "I didn't know you were here - we're training together?" He paused, making sure nobody was going to pop up out of nowhere, then asked: "Want to partner up?"

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 11:37:36 PM »
The crowd steadily thinned as more and more cadets teamed up, their laughter and chatter alarming to Dalton’s ears.  Some of the more athletic pairs, already confident in their success, jeered and taunted others, throwing out good-natured challenges - or at least Dalton hoped they were good-natured.  What was apparent was that, whether this task was time-sensitive or not, it was set to become a race - and he was still alone!

Just as he was about to trudge, crestfallen, to where a small, shamed gathering of other unpaired cadets stood - embarrassingly, the instructors had to step in to actively make matches - when he heard a voice.  A familiar voice.  His head snapped up and he stood a little taller.  “A-Axel!” Dalton beamed, delighted and relieved to see none other than the dark-haired Axel Falkenrath barrelling towards him.  A little piece of Trost, and a little piece of home, here in a sea of strangers.  “I’d love that, th-thanks!”

True to form, Dalton leaned in to give his friend a brief, warm hug.  Breaking away, he began to move off in the direction, where others cadets waited in anticipation.  He smiled benevolently down at the younger boy, scarcely able to believe his luck.  “It’s good to see you…” Dalton stopped short of asking Axel what he was doing here; there seemed to be an unwritten code amongst the cadets that it was rude to ask if a person had enlisted or was conscripted.  “Though this isn’t the n-nicest place.  I’d sooner be at home.”  He shrugged his broad shoulders, already built like a man grown despite his youth.  “H-How are you finding it?”

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2018, 08:31:00 PM »
The reaction marked on Dalton's face as he recognised him made Axel's hopes soar. To be partnered up with somebody he already knew meant that he would find more cooperation. As well as making sure he wasn't paired with the unpickable. Which he would also be. That thought didn't bother him so much as having to partner up with somebody who would do little to help him with getting through the training course.

The hug was a surprise, but he didn't reject it. Everything here was new, and he'd felt lost from the moment they'd arrived. To be with somebody he already knew, to know he wasn't alone in coming from their District, was of great relief to the small boy. "It's good to see you too," he said, offering a smile in return. It was a true smile - and his words couldn't have been truer.

"It's not exactly what I expected," he admitted, though he wondered if Dalton would take it as disappointment. Quite the contrary, he thought they would have launched into more advanced moves instead of starting so simple. But he could put up with it. Running a hand through his hair, he muttered, "I miss home too. But we're going to be the best soldiers to come out of Trost, aren't we? Now we can help each other. Right?"

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2018, 06:09:16 PM »
It was such a pleasant and comforting feeling, being in the company of one he knew well, and being greeted so warmly.  Axel seemed genuinely thrilled to see him, in a way that told Dalton his own feelings of relief and delight were reciprocated.  As such, he couldn’t help but beam at the slight boy - one so anchored in the present, bright-eyed and already looking to the future - the warm smile creasing the corners of his vivid green eyes.  There was certainly a thing or two he could learn from his young friend.
“Now that’s something to a-as-aspire to,” Dalton answered, nodding his agreement.  Even at this early stage, he recognised his limitations, and knew that a place within the top ten was certainly out of his reach.  Thankfully, this truth did not break his heart.  As nice as it would be to bring his family to the interior, he knew the Lightbodys would struggle to leave behind their beloved tavern, their relatives and their friends.  Their roots ran deep in Trost.  ​“Let’s do the best we can, and​ be​ the b-best we can be, and ​​see where that takes us.” Dalton meant the words encouragingly, for there was a lot to be said for giving it your all, for trying your hardest.  Nobody could ask for more than that.

They were approaching the starting line - was it a starting line, if this wasn’t a race? - and awaited the signal to begin.  Dalton felt oddly nervous, and he glanced down at his young teammate, Axel’s presence offering him reassurance.  A friendly face, in a time and place like this, was a blessing.  “I’m glad we’ll be able to h-help each other.  Starting from now, I guess.”  He chuckled softly, weakly, green eyes catching on the instructor.  Any moment now, they would begin.

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2018, 03:49:51 PM »
Axel was too thrilled with the knowledge that he had somebody by his side he was already familiar with to consider that perhaps Dalton already had noted he might have more of a struggle. After all, the military was in his own blood, and though none came from the Military Police, he was quite pleased with that. If he could do as well as his aunt and uncle, or surpass them, he may well have the thrill of rejecting them in his future. Of course he wanted to be the best he could be, and to do that he needed to at least live up to his name. But being able to grab a spot that took away another arrogant, lazy unicorn-jacketed creep would be a great experience.

"The best we can, and the best we can be," he echoed in agreement, accepting the different phrasing at the least. So perhaps his fellow Trost boy wasn't quite as confident to declare them early to be the best from their District. That was fine. He had enough confidence for on his behalf.

Standing at the ready, he glanced upwards to the boy. "We will. We'll help each other every step of the way, and show the rest of them what real teamwork is." He was determined to show to the others that he could handle hard tasks. Better, he wanted to make sure the closest person to a friend he had knew he was there for him.

The signal to start kicked off. Breaking into a run, Axel pulled himself back enough to ensure he could still stick by, or just ahead, of Dalton, not about to split so soon. Fences were up first, frames of wood like those in a field of cattle rather than the garden variety. Easy enough to hop over, especially with speed. "You've got this," he called back, approaching the first fence and planting a hand on the edge, using momentum to roll over it as one leg then the other came over, boots landing well in the softened mud on the other side.

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2019, 08:53:14 PM »
In that last, suspenseful moment before the signal went, Dalton flashed Axel a smile, grateful for his company, and buoyed by his sentiments. It was a nice feeling, belonging in a team, and knowing that if anyone was made for the Training Corps it was Axel, for the military ran deep in his family's blood.

At the blare of the signal, there came a rush of bodies, a thunderous sound surrounding them as boots churned up the soft earth. Long-limbed and fit, Dalton kept up with Axel, but having no desire to lead he remained a pace behind, content to follow stay close to his partner's heels. They set a brisk, steady pace - a few other cadets blazed ahead in a sprint that would surely prove unsustainable - but theirs was one Dalton felt he could maintain easily enough, at least for now.

A fence loomed up ahead, tall enough that it would pose a challenge if approached too slowly or timidly. As they came closer, Dalton ran the danger of overthinking how to vault over. It was the call of encouragement - and the technique demonstrated by Axel - that saw him simply follow his partner's example, using the same manoeuvre to clear the fence. He landed with a wobble, but managed to correct his balance and keep from falling - unlike another cadet just behind him, who caught his foot on the top railing and went face-first into the dirt. Dalton winced in sympathy, concern blooming in his chest, but he did not falter, focusing instead on closing the distance that had opened up between Axel and himself.

This was a brutal business.

It wasn't far to the next challenge and, truth be told, if it weren't for the trailblazers already navigating its confines, Dalton might have struggled to know what to do. A large stretch of netting, woven from heavy rope, was pegged to the ground. Beneath it, the ground was a muddy mulch, the cadets clearly expected to crawl their way through it.

With the fence, Dalton's height and size had given him an advantage. Not so here. After a brief hesitation - thinking of his white breeches, of the boots he had meticulously polished that very morning - the cadet dropped to his hands and knees, and began to drag himself through the mire, the sludge cold and clinging, the net weighing heavily and restricting his movements. Dalton grimaced in distaste, green eyes narrowing as he looked ahead, trying to identify Axel amongst the press of scrambling, mud-smeared cadets.

Re: Fancy Seeing You Here
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2019, 10:22:16 PM »
With Dalton hot on his heels, he glanced back once he'd cleared the fence to ensure that his partner had managed it - relief and a touch of pride swelled in his chest on seeing him manage it. He caught sight of the failing cadet only briefly out of the corner of his eye, but he spent no thought on it other than acknowledging the sound of the fall. They had to focus on themselves. This was a paired exercise, after all.

The netting was in front of him in no time, and he slid down to his knees. They ached on impact with the ground, complaining more with the friction of hard mud before he met the sludge. Confident that Dalton was still behind him, he ducked down beneath the netting and began to crawl. Mud stuck to him, trying to pull him in, not unlike what he envisioned quicksand to be (having a rather limited idea of what it truly was), but he persevered. While his small frame enabled him to move underneath the netting easily enough while following a larger cadet, he found it difficult to keep his pace up as the mud clung to his elbows.

Grasping part of the net to pull him forwards, he found that didn't help either - maybe if the pegs had pulled it taught he might have found more use in it, but instead he had to keep crawling. Even if he was slowing to almost Dalton's level behind him.

Eventually he was out, slick with dirt and absolutely covered in brown. It was already drying, cracking as his limbs straightened and bent. He rose to his feet, grimacing at the feel of it. A break would have been nice - his laboured breath called for it - but in that brief pause as he recollected himself others were racing onwards.

To small stumps in the ground they had to hop from.

"Shit," he muttered, watching one cadet slip from the stump and crash down with a loud thump. "Dalton - Dalton, take it slow," he said, looking for him. "You'll slip otherwise. Would it be better to... wait?" The pause came as he considered it. They would be behind others, but their shoes might have a small chance to dry up, and they'd be able to catch their breath in order to push on with a longer stretch of ground to run.


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