Echo of Chaos: Ch. 4

I was right about the drills. 

Felix was especially tense, and was practically screaming in my ear the second I walked through the Drill Stadium doors.

The Drill Stadium was the biggest room on the entire ship. It took up the entire middle, therefore earning it’s nickname: The Belly. It was built to house and train an army with all the equipment necessary to do so; a track ran along the edge of the building, a section full of mats and punching bags in the middle served as a place to practice hand-to-hand combat, and a closed off section in the top left housed a shooting-range simulator for target practice while another closed off section in the bottom right housed The Tank. Surrounded on all sides in a dome-like fashion were the Execution rooms made of shatter proof glass. 

Each day on the job started with several “warm-up” laps around the track, followed by hand-to-hand combat practice with an assigned partner. Felix would walk around the room, observing and correcting combat techniques as needed, and sending pairs to target practice in shifts. 

After the drills were finished came the assigned Executions for the day.

I always found the militant practices to be rather odd. Executions were pretty straightforward. So what we were training for?

I didn’t know, and I wasn’t allowed to ask. 

My best guess was preparation for any kind of possible invasion. It was more likely than an Execution taking a troubling turn. 

After all, most of the citizens we executed were children. 

“Echo. Tank. Now,” Felix ordered as I was finishing up my last lap around the drill track.

The Tank was self-described: it was a metal tank filled to the brim with water taken from the Arctic Sea before the ship departed from Earth. The Tank was designed to mimic the ocean with a wave simulator and temperature regulator. During drills, it was used for muscle recuperation and occasionally as a punishment.

I hadn’t worked hard enough to develop a need for muscle recuperation, so I knew this must be part of my punishment. I wasn't to blame for the schedule conflict that spared my brother and I from our assigned fates the night before, but I knew better than to question a direct order.

I ran straight from the track to the tank, and jumped in. The water hit me like needles, and I immediately felt the sweat on my skin burn with liquid fire. My eyes hurt when I squeezed them shut as I fought the panicked urge to take a breath, my lungs throbbing with the need for air.

And then, suddenly, I was being lifted out of the water. 

This was normal protocol. It only takes a few seconds for the water to paralyze you, and somebody always pulls you out before the two minute mark. 

However, what wasn’t normal was Forrest lifting me out of the water and clutching me to his chest, rubbing his arms against my skin in an attempt to warm me. I gasped, my lips purple, and my teeth chattering.

“What the hell do you think you're doing?” Forrest asked, “What the hell was that for?”

“I gave an order,” Felix answered.

“On what grounds?”

“That’s not a question you’re authorized to ask now, is it? Three more laps around the track for questioning your superior.”

Forrest seemed to realize the implications of his actions then. He let go of me, and ran off toward the track. The paralysis had worn off now, but I was still shivering uncontrollably. Felix retrieved the mandatory blanket and wrapped it around me, his hulking hands squeezing my shoulders as he leaned his head toward my ear.

“You might want to be more careful,” he said. “There is chaos in paradise.”

If I’d been able to speak without biting my own tongue, I would have asked him to clarify what he meant. 

Because if he was talking about what I thought he was, I was as good as dead.

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