Excerpt from Working The Trenches

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Then, with an hour still to go, we took a walk, the two of us meandering through the public areas of the level, hand-in-hand, just being alone together in the crowd. We sat on a planter and watched people go by, then with ten minutes until the reporting window opened, we teleported into the transport terminal in the small city at Fulda, no more than three or four million people. From there, we took a public portal to the base gate, used our orders to pass the gate and approached the induction center. Entering, we found that there was no line. "Excuse me," I asked the attendant, "We have orders to report between fortythree and fortyfour, but it's only fortytwo fiftytwo. Would it be better to formally report now or to wait?"

"A good start," the woman in the uniform of a Staff Private commended us, "We'll take you now."

The hardest part was cutting off my hair. I've never been a beauty (unless you asked Asto) but I took good care of my hair. It was very dark brown, almost black, and thick, with just a hint of wave and went down to my shoulders and they simply told me to stand here and cut it all off in about fifteen seconds. I'd been expecting it, but it was still difficult to accept. They took our measurements, issued us recruit clothing, subjected us to a quick medical exam despite the fact that as Guardians, we were as qualified to heal as their doctor, told us to get dressed and told us to go wait in a room with two other people, both of whom were obviously operant as well. There we sat for several hours, waiting. A couple more people came in, one at a time, all operant. There was a purpose to everything the military did with recruits, Parnit had informed us. Part of the purpose was to start off making it obvious that according to the military, nobody was any more or less special than anyone else. That said, it would be ridiculous to start Guardians and other operants on the same training regimen as natural state recruits, so they didn't. They'd be shipping us off to a training unit designed for the fact that we could do things natural state humans couldn't. We were stronger, faster, more agile, physically superior in every way because we'd won the operancy lottery and were able to augment ourselves better than healers could augment natural state humans. But our training was designed to accomplish the same thing theirs was: force us beyond our normal limits and teach us what we needed to know. Make us understand that to the military, a soldier was a soldier was a soldier. Nobody was intrinsically more valuable than anyone else, as a soldier or as a human being.

Eventually, they sent an inoperant trained private in to take us to a meal. He formed us up into a file, and walked us about half a kilometer to a place where they served three different kinds of tasteless glop; protein glop, carb glop, roughage glop. The glop was nutritious, but about as appetizing as cold baby food. It was likely mass extruded out of a converter that could just as easily have produced something appealing. Once again, the military had their reasons for everything. They wanted you to think of yourself as one more cog, no more important than the one next to you. Once that pattern of thought was engrained, trained soldiers got better food. Oh well, I suppose they could have just thrown us a chunk of Life and a cube of water, so it could have been worse. Come to think of it, as unappealing as the glop was, I'd rather have gnawed a chunk of Life.

Meal concluded, the same private escorted us back to more hours of waiting. One more operant inductee joined us, and then the same Trained Private came in with an operant Staff Private. Addressing us, he said, "This is Staff Private Ugatu," gesturing at the Staff Private, "He will be escorting you to your training facility and turning you over to your unit Instructor. Follow his instructions." Why was a lowly Trained Private instructing us to obey a Staff Private, several grades higher? Because staff ranks were not part of the chain of command. Yes, a Staff Private was senior to us, but wasn't normally entitled to give orders, to us or to anyone else. Technically speaking, if we obeyed an order from a Staff Private without such an instruction, we'd be responsible for the consequences. "There are reasons for everything the Imperial military does," Parnit had explained over and over. "You might not understand or even agree with those reasons. You might think they are pointless, even counterproductive. The reasons are never explained, for reasons that won't be explained to you, either, at least not until you achieve your first staff rank. But every single one of them has been field tested and cross-checked over thirty square (75,000+ Earth years) of successful operations covering an incredible volume of space and situations too varied for you or even me to imagine."


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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on November 28, 2019 8:43 AM.

Excerpt from WIP: The Monad Trap (Connected Realms book 2) was the previous entry in this blog.

Excerpt from The Invention of Motherhood is the next entry in this blog.

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