Training Day
rating: +9+x

A story.

A man on his deathbed gathers up his friends. They have all served him well and justly, and it's time to divvy up the legacy of a life well lived.

He takes the wisest among them, and provides them with mandate: "Do what you should." He
thanked them, and they moved on.

He takes the kindest among them, the men of good character, and provides them with mandate also: "Do what you must." He thanked them, and they too moved on.

Finally, he takes the most loyal among them - those who, in good times and bad, stayed the course, echoed his sentiment, and stood firm against the winds of change. These men he took close to his person, embraced, and in the end, provided mandate, as he had the others:

"Do what you will."

They thanked him and he passed from this world.

The sun rising on the commune was a sea of orange-yellow that glinted off the guard-posts, search-lights and walls and cast grand shadows over the the dormitory blocks in a way that the entire island was bathed in a kind of lustre. The palm trees bristling with fruit untouched on the surf just outside the main gate once more had their deep emerald leaves shine in the golden hour.

In one such dormitory block, above his mother’s bunk, a sandy-haired boy crept out of bed and threw on a pair of hiking boots.

Using the techniques Mr. Nakawa drilled into them every waking hour, he stole out into the hallway and past the guards patrolling in intervals, and as he did this he admired the lush color of their black uniforms and the intricacy of the weaponry and the badges of honor they maintained.

Without a man noticing, he slipped from the building out into the dusty streets - dodging the watchful eye of sniper rifles and moving from building until he could make his way over to the hole. There it loitered; an inconspicuous, almost insignificant, assuredly invaluable tunnel under the high, concrete barrier protecting the outside world, from the one within.

He uncovered the rocks concealing it and, without hesitation, dove in, his eyes adjusting the lighting as it changed from the slowly growing bright of the day to the gloom of the fissure.

He wriggled himself through, cursing under his breath at the roughness of the Earth irritating the scars of the previous day’s exercises. He made his way through to the other side, and seeing blue sky once more, he scrambled out in an explosion of dirt as he rushed across the open field into the foliage ahead.

The jungle was dense, and for a boy of his stature, daunting. He climbed over tree stumps and vines and plucked a leech from his ankle while moving up the stream. As he reached the river's end he saw the entrance to the vast cavern he has been searching for: a gaping maw into which the water flowed further down.

He moved inside, the light gleaming into the dark, reflecting off high stalactites and glittering mineral caches. He stumbled over rocks and boulders until, eventually, he found the oasis.

Their shared meeting place was a small pool of glowing, at the center of the cave. A young girl in a sharp uniform sat near the edge of the luminescent body, next to a dark-skinned boy in an outfit for a man older than him. Both appeared fascinated by the contents within the shimmering lake.

He made his way down without a squeak. They noticed him only when he allowed it.

"We're all here," he said, startling the pair - though not so much as before. They turned to him, and he noticed the red blotch on Elise's white cheek, and the weary, sleep deprived look in the eyes of Aaron.

"Elijah," Aaron said, "It's good to see you still living."

The trio moved to a circle, where they could speak quietly and intimately, with only their own company.

"They say," Elijah said, "That we are going to practice more techniques today. No more repetition."

"We're supposed to be experimenting," Elise whispered. "On real people. The ones in the jumpsuits."

"I'm finally done with the procedural," Aaron breathed, "It took so damn long, but I'm glad it's over."

Elijah looked at Elise, "He told me to give you another message."

"Really?" The girl's brown eyes glowed in the bioluminescence of the cave-creatures, their purple emanations the only sources of light to guide their path. "Tell me. Please."

"He says he's ready to meet. He'd love to meet you here. I told him I'd take him, tomorrow."

"What about me?" Aaron asked.

"About you, nothing." Elijah chuckled. "We can go rock hunting."

"We still don't know - what they know."

"They know nothing," he proclaimed, boldly. "They do not suspect, and they will not remember three little children meeting in the caves. We will come back tomorrow, and I will introduce you, Elise."

"And you're sure you're okay with it?"

"I have no interest in him, nor any of the squad - nor, anyone else." He added, sheepishly. Stronger, he said, "I will take my body to my grave."

Aaron laughed. "We'll see about that."

"I hope so."

Mrs. Partridge, Elise's course teacher, lectured in the back of her mind as the light from the 10:00 sun shined through the blinds of the Science Division building's first-year classroom - a fine, advanced area, full of diagrams, the class's latest tests with the DESG (D.irected, E.nergy, S.preadgun, a moniker Elise's friend Joy was very happy to take responsibility for) and the new ballistic weaves.

Mrs. Partridge was a towering woman whose pitch-black bowtie did nothing to diminish the authority of her presence, and as she adjusted the latter aesthetic piece, she continued, "As each of you has been informed, you are unique among the students in our pool. Since its inception, the divisions of the Founder's Trust have accepted most specimens among the H. Sapiens variety in equal measure, with the exception of our own department. You are each among you, more, in mind and in body, than your compatriots. Perhaps you have each attempted to test your limits in this area. This is perfectly normal. Come!" She shouted, and a man in full combat gear shoved a blindfolded prisoner into the room. He forced him onto his knees, and the class stood in awe of the sight.

"Now, you will have the unique opportunity to let me see which among you is ready for the advanced course, and those others who are not so proficient. Form a line, and begin."

They did so, their identical blue uniforms making them a sight to behold - at least in Elise's view. She heard screams of agony in her spot in line - the very last, as she had marveled at the organization of her comrades till it were too late - and try as she might she could not get a glimpse of the suffering. Ages seemed to pass, until she came to the front of the line.

Mrs. Partridge looked up from a clipboard, as she checked off boxes. "Elizabeth," she said. "Give us a taste."

She reached out with her mind towards the pitiable creature. She felt it, squirming and slippery, though not at all out of her control. She thought back to when she was a young girl, ordering Karajan to sit on her lap and massage her shoulder. She was just a cat, though. The man's brain was like an engorged version of hers. She tried to think of it that way, and had him stand.

"Good," Mrs. Partridge said. "Something a little deeper."

Elise struggled to make him rub his head and pat his tum. She ended up doing the same herself, to laughter.

Mrs. Partridge ignored it, "And, to finish off - self-harm."

Elise ended the loop and only just then registered what had been said. She looked at Mrs Partridge in confusion, and then saw - the man had deep, deep marks in arms, wrists, and neck. He was even bleeding in several places.

Without intending, she imagined the pain inflicted by such wounds, and their connection led to a crippling agony in her throat and hands. She fell to her knees and held her hands to her temples. The line of students recoiled and disformed in surprise. Mrs. Partridge wrote something down.

"Please continue the test, Elise. We are losing time."

Elise could no longer enjoy her time with the man. She could feel, in the distance, his screaming at her, for help, and vengeance, and quiet. A deep pain arose in her chest as she moved the man's arm to his esophagus. With his own strength, she ripped into it, causing blood to leak away from the area and various viscera to exit the cavity she had created. In the back of his fading vitality, she felt gratitude.

Mrs. Partridge made a note on her clipboard. She got to her feet, shaking.

"An acceptable performance. To your place in line." To the guard, she scolded: "Well, what are you waiting for? Bring in the next one."

"And that is why, while the procedure's fine points may have been lost on the plaintiff," Aaron spoke to the 'Jury' of his peers, "It was perfectly within Ethical regulations, as set by precedence in Incident 8789-Beta-C." The court was small, and traditional in structure. The Administrative division's instructional plaza sat at the highest point on the Island, Mount Scranton, and from the windows shining in the hot noon it collected a temperature unparalleled over the other facilities on the Island. Prosecutor Garland watched his method attentively from the 'Judge's' seat, his gavel at the ready.

He continued, "The Committee has no right to issue a stop order on this essential action simply because it was not within Mr. Gavaroww's-" he looked at a Disposable Human in a suit, the 'Plaintiff' next to a guard in similar pomp for the occasion. "-faculative capacity, at the time. It is the Trust's recommendation that at this time, for costing the Foundation procedural system valuable time on an easily resolved case of minutiae, he be remanded to Site-43 immediately for processing, to be reassigned to a case more befitting his capabilities. Thank you." He ended with a smile, which was returned by his classmates. He moved back and sat with Charlie at the defendant's table, the former of which clapped him on the back.

Prosecutor Garland, however, had a different look on his face.

"We're going to a five minute recess. If I could see the defendant in my chambers?" The pronouncement took a moment to ingratiate itself to everyone in the room, and Aaron exchanged nervous glances with Charlie.

"It'll be fine," he whispered, "We've been working day and night. He probably just wants to congratulate you before the verdict. Go on," Charlie coaxed him, after Aaron made a thoroughly unconvinced grimace, "Go on."

Aaron stood up, as dignified as he could, and squeaked in his sneakers over to the Judge's quarters, which rendered as according Garland's tastes. They included: brown hardwood finish, a place overlooking the cliffs down below, a number of alcoholic beverages (one of which was currently being poured) and a desk with various objects of varying significance flanked by an American flag and Trust standard. Garland turned to address him.

"What are you doing?" He asked. Aaron confused, responded, "I'm sorry, sir?"

"What," Garland emphasized, "Are you doing? Didn't we talk about this?" When Aaron still blanked, he continued. "Your verdict. You were sublime. All we're talking about is the verdict, Aaron." He came closer.

Aaron suddenly remembered, and his cloudy eyes appeared to clear. "But… his punishment would only fit the circumstances. All he did was refuse to enter the chamber. He didn't actively sabotage to the operation."

"Aaron," Garland lectured, exasperated, "Who is that man out there?"

"Mr. Gavaroww?"

"Yes. Mr. Gavaroww."

Aaron shrugged. "I assumed he was disposable. There's a whole stock of them on the Island."

"And why is that, Aaron? Why don't we just use somebody else in company employ?"

He racked his brains. "Well… I suppose, to make the session feel more real. To make us consider verdict with the person in mind."

"Exactly. That, is it, exactly." Garland drank, and thumped his glass down. "So what is your problem?"


"The whole point," Garland said, "Of acquiring a disposable specimen Prime in the first place, of the course itself, was to familiarize yourself with this aspect of 'guilt.' Disposable, Aaron. He's supposed to die."

"But…" He was cut off. "But what, Aaron? You were tasked with readjusting the defense into our offense. That's the basis of Trust policy."

"But why would we give up necessary manpower?" Aaron replied.

Garland shook his head. "That's the end. Perhaps you overthought it, but the rest of your crop seem to have understood this. We are here to rid ourselves of the dregs. We are here, because we must have the Committee understand what is necessary. And what is necessary, Aaron, is as little as possible." He placed a hand on Aaron's shoulder. He felt helpless. "Now, my boy, you are perhaps one of the finest lawmen to have walked through my hall in the past three years. So I'm giving you a chance. You will go back into that chamber, and carry out the order. Non-negotiable. Do it. Clear enough terms?"

Aaron was wordless. "Clear… enough?" The statement came out as a question.

"Good." Garland breathed heavy. "I do look forward to our time together."

Garland walked out. Aaron was silent, frozen. He thought back to the endless nights of study and argument and theory in the Commune libraries.

Then, he straightened his tie, put on a smile, and walked back out of the office, past the Jury, towards Charlie. He remained standing as he addressed his peers.

"It is… the re-determination of the defense, that Mr. Gavaroww be immediately remanded to Site-43 for processing and… termination, of employment. Thank you your honor."

Samuel roughly knocked him onto the sand. "Fuck!" Elijah spit out blood onto the burning material. The beach was filled in a line with sparring partners, watched over by the crossed-armed Commander Rothstein and the ever-impenetrable Mr. Nakawa. Samuel, a thick, tanned, burly boy without a shirt - as with the rest of them, pulled him up. "That's 3-0." He laughed. "You just need to hit a little harder, Eli."

"It's in the legs," he argued. "Besides, how the hell do you hit so hard anyway?" You're not that strong."

The ever-present Commander Rothstein shouted from across the beach, "Language, Elijah!" He shouted back, "Sir, sorry sir!" He thought a moment to reword his statement. "Besides, how the hot fuck do you hit so hard anyway, you fat piece of shit?"

"Better! Remember, hatred is love!" Rothstein yelled, and gave him a thumbs up. Samuel chuckled. They took their places again, and under his breath, Samuel whispered with each blow.

"Did you tell Elle?" He slammed his fist into Eli's nose, who took the opportunity to knee him in the gut.

"She's excited," Eli groaned, "No names. Just as you wanted."

"Good. I just want it to be her and me." He got Eli in a lock. "Thank you so much, for doing this. You have no idea how much it means to me." He threw him.

They landed on the ground in a cloud of dust, which promptly cleared. Eli coughed.

"No problem," he said. "I love you, man."

"Hold pair 7!" Mr. Nakawa shouted from his post, and marched over with an energy that continuously surprised Eli - perhaps it was the whiteness of his hair. Immediately, all the boys took on a respectful stance, and the pair struggled to unwind and face him.

"Sir!" Samuel and Eli shouted in unison.

Nakawa stopped, his hand fingering the handle of his IJA ceremonial sword, reliably at his side. "You are weak this morning, Elijah."

"Sir, I'm trying my best, sir!"

"Your best is not enough, not today. Take your positions." Samuel and Elijah snapped into sparring stances. Nakawa continued. "I have viewed your progression with much interest. Your bond is strong, but the distribution is weak. Now you will prove me wrong. Samuel, you must fight with all your strength. Elijah, you must finish Samuel. At the end, I will determine where your future lies. Acceptable?"

"Yes sir!"

"Then begin."

Eli didn't expect any mercy from Sam. From day one, they'd made it very clear: throw a match, thrown off the Island. Your family, your place in intellectual elite - reduced to dust, for compassion. Often an empty threat - he'd been doing it all morning, after all - but not at this distance. As such, Sam - with sorrow in his eyes, punched and kicked with a horrible fury. Eli could barely keep up, let alone attack. He needed to win, or they'd never the night together.

Sam knocked Eli off his feet, and the pair scrabbled in the sand. In desperation, his body aching and his arms nearly in lock, he bit him with all his might in the leg. Sam recoiled as blood gushed from wound, and Eli knocked into his jaw, struggling to keep him in a hold. He wildly thrashed as Nakawa watched with great interest. Realizing that he no longer needed to keep up the charade, Sam stopped.

Nakawa smiled. "In fighting the Americans, in a place not far from here, our own soldiers came against us, broken by a demon of white and blue. I killed them. After the war, when others from my unit decided to continue their work, I relinquished my command and came here. How cruel is it that they demanded I perform my miracle once again? I saw it as prophecy, and gave paid it no further attention. Do you understand the meaning of this story?"

Eli's muscles burned. "I don't know, sir."

"I slaughtered my brothers readily, with the same readiness that lost me many battles winning me - many more. I am congratulating you, Elijah. You may yet become owed to our Corps. Release your battle-lover."

The tension exploded as Eli released him from the hold, plowing Sam into the sand. He turned and gave him a grin.

Nakawa then drew his sword and put it forth to him. Elijah looked at the blade with uncertainty.

"Take it." Despite himself, he slowly took the blade into his hands, and contemplated the steel. "Thank you for letting me touch it, sir! It is of a very fine quality!"

"Kill Samuel."

Elijah paused. "Sir?"

"If you are to question me once more, Elijah, I will have you removed from the program. Kill this man."

Elijah looked at the sword, and then looked at Samuel. Samuel groaned.


Elijah looked at Nakawa. "Permission to take a leave of absence for heat-stroke, sir!"

Nakawa stormed forward. He removed the sword and slammed it back into its scabbard. He took up Samuel by the head and, with a wrenching movement, snapped his neck. The body collapsed into the sand. Eli watched it fall.

"Send him back to the Battalion." Commander Rothstein stepped forward, put a hand on Eli's shoulder, and ushered him away from the practices, which promptly resumed. He talked into a phone as they ran.

"Two more washouts. Get another bunk ready."

That night, Eli returned to the cavern, alone.

Aaron and Elise sat by the pool, as per usual. Once more, they looked around in confusion, then further when they saw he was unaccompanied. They sat in their circle and they talked.

"Where is the suitor?" Elise asked.

"He's dead," Eli said. "Washed out."

"And you?"

"Washed out. Maybe I'll make a good cook." His attempt at humor fell flat. He turned Aaron. "How about you?"

"I don't wanna talk about it." They both looked at Elise.

"Another time."

The three sat together in silence for some time. After a while, they fell asleep - snoring, in a peaceful bundle against the rock wall. They each escaped the horror in the quiet of their companionship and of their dreams.

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