[Waypoint] Digging Deep

This is a space for in-character events that do not occur within the line of duty and/or did not fit into the "Daily Life" section as it played out. Threads herein are meant to supplement character development and flesh out the setting elements, but are not necessary to understanding the plot or characters involved. These events are to be considered canon unless otherwise noted.
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Kokuten
Posts: 439
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:06 pm

[Waypoint] Digging Deep

Post by Kokuten » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:33 am

The day after the amphibious assault excercise was set aside as a day off for the recruits in Card's training unit.

Atleast, it was the day off for most of the unit.

Card knocked on the door frame as she entered the trainee's barracks. The officer walked with a purpose as she glanced at the members from her unit sitting around their bunks. Finding Trooper Westwood alone near the back of the room, Card motioned for him to follow her out of the room.

"Westwood, we need to talk." Was all the officer stated.

"Eh? Iss' my day off, ain't it?" said Asher looking at a magazine that one of the other Troopers had handed to him. They told him it was something along the lines of what he would like. On the cover was the depiction of a female Terran soldier with standard gear waist-down, and a bikini top. She was carrying an extremely high caliber weapon that he had recognized from what Adrian had carried back on Surandania. Emblazoned above the woman, in four gloriously formatted letters, 'BOOM'. The survivor looked at Card just over his magazine.

Card just arched an eyebrow at the Trooper as she took a glance at the magazine cover.

"Your knowledge of current weapons is quite adequate for the moment, but you are severly lacking in other areas." For a moment Card seemed like she was finished, but then she smiled and continued. "And, if you do follow I'll give you permission to miss out on tommorrows morning training, you can use that time to catch up on your reading."

Without waiting for Asher's response Card stepped out of the barracks, making it clear that the conversation - if it was to continue - would do so on the move.

"What--..." Asher looked around for a moment, his eyes scanning up and down the barracks. The soldier tried to judge the gazes of the other Marines to see if they had some sort of hint of what was about to happen. Judging by how they didn't even bother to look away from what they were doing, it didn't seem that much of an issue. So, the light-footed Surandanian hopped off his bed, and jogged out the door, looking around for Card.

Card was standing just down the hallway to the left of Asher, a smile on her face. "Good man! You'll enjoy your lazy morning tomorrow I'm sure." As she paused, Card's smile only got wider. "Now for something you'll not enjoy."

"Down this hall is the base's pool. It's got quite a deep section, twenty feet in fact." Once again Card flashed Asher a smile. "And I have a pair of lead lined boots and a breathe mask with your name on it."

Asher stared at Card for a moment, her smile making him extremely uncomfortable. It looked good on her, yeah, but she was too sadistic to him for that to be an overly nice thing. As she mentioned a pool, he twitched; when she mentioned lead-lined boots, he arched a brow; then the breathing mask 'with his name on it' was mentioned, he offered a cracking laugh. It was a nervous, cornered laugh.

"Ha-... Hah ah!" went Asher, before turning back around, and powering his way back to the barracks, "I'll see ya' in tha' mornin' f'duty!"

"Private Asher!" Card sprinted after the trooper, and caught him by the shoulder before he could continue. Asher was shorter than Card, but not by much and the Surandanian was strong.

Somehow the officer managed to turn the man around, but she knew she would have to talk fast. "Look, Asher, I can't see you tomorrow morning for duty if you don't do this. You need to be able to do operations in and around water. One way or the other this is the end of the line, either for your fears or for your career."

"Why tha' fuck do I need lead boots!?" shrecked Asher as his voice cracked. He turned around, but only half-way. Unlike his usual self, he was fairly desperate.

The evil mirth from earlier had left Card and been replaced with a look of pity for the small man. "Your worst moment during the excercise was when you were completely submerged." The officer explained her reasoning to the trooper calmly, trying to be reassuring. "We need to recreate that situation so when you encounter it during field work you won't panic again. The boots will keep you down, and reduce the amount of thrashing you will do if you do panic again."

"Don't worry too much though, we'll take it slowly at first, the pool has areas that will only be waist or chest height on you at first. I'll also be in the water with you if that's any comfort, I'm not going to be standing all aloof on the sidelines for something like this."

Card took a deep breath and looked Asher squarely in the eye. "Now, will you come or are you going to have to go?"

The red-eyed Marine stared hard back into Card's eyes. The soldier then looked down into the floor. He seem like a disciplined child who began to realize exactly what he had done wrong. It was hard to swallow, he was pretty much a pussy when it came to getting into any water higher than his waist. It was rather shameful, and as such, it motivated him. So, he sighed and looked back up at her.

"... Alright... I'll do it, yeah? Juss'... Y'know... Don't throw me in this time, I landed square on m'back." said Asher, chuckling weakly, trying to restablish some sort of comfortable mood.

Card chuckled and pat the recruit on his back. "Asher, I would throw you into a pit of lions before I would throw you into water again. The lions you could fight, as of right now, when you go up against water your useless!" Walking off towards the pool again, Card waved for Asher to follow. "Now, let's get started. The more time we have, the quicker you'll get better."

The pool hall was a simple, if large building, but it had to be to house the monster of a puddle Waypoint Basecamp claimed for it's pool. The thing had to be at least 200 feet long and 100 wide, with depths ranging anywhere from two feet to Card's promised twenty.

It was surprisingly empty, even for the evening, and before Card closed the door behind Asher she hung a sign saying "Emergency Training in Process: Pool Off-Limits" to explain the abscences.

Turning to Asher, Card motioned towards a pile of gear set next to the shallow end of the pool. "Okay, that's your gear, suit up and if you have any problems just yell." Before the Surandanian had even began to walk off Card began to unbutton her officer's coat, revealing the top half of a wet suit underneath her uniform.

Tha' bitch was ready f'this for'I even said nothin'! growled Asher mentally, giving her skin-tight form a dirty look, before giving it a dirty look. Though, he didn't stare long, as he had to get this mess over with, so that he could properly overcome his fear of the deep. The soldier jogged on over to the equipment and began to switch out of his regular fatigues into the wet-work gear. Every few moments, he stare out at the water, and then up at Card, and then began cursing slightly under his breath. I didn' have t'deal wit' this shit back home.

Then, came the boots, oh-so-heavy boots. Even with the Surandanian's muscular stature, they weighed him down a bit. Every step felt like he was trying to lift the floor with him as he moved. And eventually he made his way over to the edge of the pool. His helmet was nestled under his arm, not equipping as of yet to get a few good breaths. When he felt properly ventilated, he placed the helmet on his head, and sealed it.

"Alright. Let's get this shit ova' wit'." said Asher, looking down at the water.

Card, her own equipment consisting of nothing more than small pair of goggles and a short hip canister an mouth piece attached to her tactical belt, nodded to Asher. Deciding that she had to take the lead in this operation, Card - trying to remain sensitive of the situation - got into the water with less enthusiasm than she usually did.

Still, once she had dove under, the officer couldn't help but swim along the bottom of the pool for a few seconds before surfacing. Smiling encouragingly to Asher she motioned towards the steps - which she herself had ignored - in front of the man, she needed him to take the whole process slowly, so she knew exactly when the panic became overwhelming for the recruit.

"No time like the present Private Westwood."

Since he was wearing the standard Marine helmet, she could see the frustrated look on his face. Her motioning to the stairs made him feel like a child, so he responded by doing something childish. He jumped in where he was, landing on his feet, legs bent slightly to absorb the shock. The water was waist-high, and the Marine held his arms crossed. That amber, polarized visor stared at her with a sort of unbecoming impatience.

As the splash from Asher's violent entrance rolled by and Card got a look at the trooper now that he was finally in the water, she had to hold back a laugh.

The sight of someone in full underwater operations gear in a pool was - to be honest - rather hilarious. Card choked back her laughter though and returned Asher's stare. They had finally gotten to the real part of the training and she wasn't willing to send the man into another fit just to satsify his impatience.

"Alright then, start moving forward now at whatever pace you find comfortable." A lopsided grin on her face Card continued. "Do I need to remind you that a "comfortable" pace and the one demanded by your manly pride are not the same. You are here to get better, not prove anything to anyone Private."

"Yeah? Well it doesn' start kickin' in until tha' water starts comin' up." said Asher as he stomped along in the water. He stepped past Card, refusing her advice. As he did, his foot landed on the incline, and suddenly, he began sliding downward. The water rose like a bad dream, and so did the memories. He could feel imaginary hands grabbing his arms and legs, bladed and mangled claws of imaginary mutants created by his fear-filled mind. It was then, he began to panic, and flailed his arms up into the air, disturbing the surface of the water as he sank.

When he saw that wasn't working, he turned on his belly and then began to frenzy his way back up the hill. When he found himself back at the high point, he burst up, and rose from the water, shaking and silent.

Card had watched the whole ordeal silently, her worries increasing from the point when Asher had begun to slide and panic onward. When the man resurfaced, shaking like a leaf she was in no way relieved.

It had been short and muffled, but the officer swore she had heard a scream from Asher before the silence had set in. Making her decision quickly and equally silently Card swam over to the recruit, her foot coming down hard on the releases to the lead bottoms on the boots.

As the weights slipped off she began pulling the man towards the steps without even asking. All trace of mirth from before gone and deep frown on her face, as they got closer to end she spoke up.

"We need to talk, out of the water. I've dealt with recruits who couldn't deal around water before, and your problem is something else." There was worry in the officers voice, and her mind raced as she tried to think of what could take someone like Asher and make him react like he had.

Asher pulled himself out of the water, as frustration overtook him, he stepped up onto the edge, and unsealed his helmet, ripping it off, and throwing it against the wall. That was terrible, he thought. Card already had a lot on him already with his current panicking, but that moment had made him look like a defenseless little bitch! At least, that's what Asher thought. He breathed for a few moments, putting his hands on his waist. "Y'know, y'don't wanna' know." said Asher, denying her professional and concerned curiosity. He went back over to his helmet, and picked it up with a shaking hand. "We... we juss' need t'try it again..."

Card had gotten out of the pool after Asher, and after hearing his stubborn refusal to be anything close to sensible. She advanced on him, making no move to touch him, but the anger in her stare made a good attempt at drilling the recruit into the wall.

"Asher, cut the shit, put the damn helmet down, take a seat and start gabbing." With great control Card kept her voice at a normal level, even when everything in her body was telling her to shout and knock the man about as much as possible. "I need to know, and will know what is wrong. If we get this over with now the only one who ever needs to know is you and me, if you keep being as stubborn as a pile of rocks, I'll be bringing in Destiny and whoever the hell else I need to to get you evauntually talking."

The Surandanian cut his eyes at Card, not liking how the story of some chapter of his life was being forced out of him. Reliving his past was something he usually never did. In fact, he never really thought anyone would care enough to ask. Then again, he never thought he'd get off that shit hole of a planet. So, he set his helmet on the floor, and sat on it, resting his arms on his knees. He couldn't fight the Drill-Captain, or her glare, because he knew he'd have to deal with it some other time. She was also almost as stubborn, if not more stubborn, as him.

"Fine." he said plainly, looking at her, in that dripping skin-tight wet-suit that seemed to enunciate the woman's features enough to distract him fro--... He shook his head, and looked back down, "Where you want me t'start? Eh? You want tha' whole story, or d'ya want me t'juss' tell ya what mattas?"

"Asher." Card said angrily as she herself crouched on the ground. The officer paused and sighed. She started over again, this time her voice softer, almost as if she was talking to a wounded animal. "Asher, of course I want the whole thing, in fact I want you thinking through out this that every single detail you can think of matters. This is something important don't just go shrugging it off half-assed on me."

"... We're juss' talkin' 'bout tha' fear of wata', right? Not tha' whole 'reason why I'm so odd' story a'my life, yeah? 'Cause tha' Psyche counsa'la wanted t'hear everythin' 'bout certain' parts a'my life n'shit." said Asher, tilting his head, trying to make sure that they were both on the same page here. The Surandanian's eyes trailed down for a moment to where they didn't need to be, but he fixed that by trying to stare into her eyes, respectfully. At least, as respectful as staring your commander in the face can be.

"Asher... you know what I want, and I know you don't want to go there. But, please just cooperate for one night, okay?" Card was still staring, but the anger was gone, replaced with pity.

"A'right..." said Asher, looking down at the floor, and then back up at her, bouncing his heels up and down. "Well, it all started when I wass' nine. I wass' comin' home from school, y'know? 'Cause they had canceled it f'tha' national 'mergency n'shit. I didn' know what wass' goin' on at tha' time. I juss' knew my sistah' sucked f'gettin' t'stay home f'bein' sick that day! Heh..." The Surandanian looked out at the water, and continued, "So, I got home, n'used tha' key t'open up inta' my families 'partment, n'shit. N'lo n'behold, I see my mom, sprawled out on tha' floor, wit' tha' most terrified look frozen on 'er face. She was... dead, yeah? But tha' way she'd died wass' tha' worse part."

Asher put his hand on his throat and pinched a little, "Y'see, one'a da' muties had ripped'r throat out wit it's teeth. I knew that, 'cause tha' mutie wass' still there, diggin' in my momma's stomach, gnawin', slurping, bitin', chompin' all up in n'er insides, n'shit. When it pulled it's face out for a tick t'look at me, I saw that it wass' my sistah. She had been infected! Tha' whole cold bull-shit wass' juss' that fuckin' plague. N'there she was, eatin' mom like she was a fuckin' buffet."

Card was quiet as she rubbed her forehead with her right hand. Damn it. Was the only proper thought she could summon up in her mind. She had seen some of the crazy Drathonians bite out necks, and even occasionally nibble on a corpse as in insult during her time in the field, but for Asher to be greated with that as a child, and for perpatrator to be his own sister.

Damn it.

Card took a deep breath, and kept her head down. When the Drill-Captain spoke she was slow at first, but then her words quickly picked up pace. "Asher, you - you stupid, stupid, stupid, macho driven retard! What ever possessed you to keep THAT bottled up in your for, what, fifteen years now!? How could - what were you -" Damn it.

Card brought her hand to her face again, keeping it there this time as she breathed deeply. God damn it, but she needed a minute. The last thing Asher needed to deal with right now was another lecture.

"Hey, y'want me t'finish or not?" said Asher, leaning back a bit, holding up his hands to defend himself. "I ain't even done."

Slowly, Card nodded.

"So, there she was, my sistah, starin' at me wit' deez' milky white eyes, blood coverin' most a'her face. Man, I nearly shit myself!" he let out a wracked laugh, as if trying shake off the sight of a murder. "Then, she comes at me, fresh meat n'shit, yeah? So I freak! I look t'my left. A bat!" He made a grabbing motion, "I reached out, grabbed it, and right at tha' perfect moment, I swung, knocking my sister half-way 'cross tha' room. I'm still scared shitless and confused as hell, so I don' know what t'do, specially when she gets up. Y'see, tha' virus thickens tha' skin, makes y'tough, so she got back up and tried to charge me again. So, I rev that bat back, and I swing again, and I knocker down."

The Surandanian sniffed as he looked down, offering a short chuckle again. "But I didn' stop. I wass' so fuckin' scared outta' my mind, tha' kept swingin'..." He began to make downward motions, as if bring a pick down on piece of rock, "And swingin'... and swingin'... Just... swingin'..." He was silent for a moment, before taking another breath. "I just kept swingin', f'two hours. I nevah' stopped, until m'arms gave up on me, hell my whole body gave up on me. I spent a few minutes starin' an bloody pile a' skin, gooey bone, n'organs. Just some sick... fucked up pile a'goo. So, I freak out again, I drop tha' bat, and run ova' t'mom, forgettin' she's dead. I juss' want it t'stop, y'know?" He looked down at the floor once more, bringing a hand to his nose, and sniffing again, his voice losing it's tone.

"I juss'... I keep... shakin', n'shakin' her. 'Wake up!' 'Wake up!'. I start bawlin', cryin'. I get tha' blood on my hands, but I kept trying t'wake momma up..." Asher began to rock back and forth on his helmet, sniffing again, sucking in his lower lip. His voice cracked highly, "But she never did... Momma... she..." With that, a tear broke off from his eye, and he brought his hand up to dry it. "Sorry." He tried to laugh, but it just sounded like a sick exhale, he sniffed again. "Eyes are a lil' dry."

As Card listened to Asher tell his own encounter with tradegy her own memories ambushed her. She had never had to come onto the scene herself, and had had a good five years on Asher to help soften the blow. But, still there had been plenty of video footage, multiple angles and all that good stuff to make it as she had been there.

Because, at the time she had wanted to be there. She hadn't wanted to be alive. She had tried not to be in fact. And even though she thought he didn't, saving her was one thing Card did thank Brighton for.

As Asher began to finish his story, Card wiped her own face with her arm before looking up. "Asher, lie to me, or lie to yourself, but don't do both. But, if you need to cry you should, you got the right to do it, and if anyone walks in and makes a deal about it, I will be throwing them in the pool, with lead weights tied around their necks!"

Was she serious? Was this even the same Card that he had walked in her with a moment ago that grinned evilly to making Asher face his fears? Something didn't seem right here, but her words were... refreshing, even enough to bring him to laugh again, a few more tears stretching down his face.

"Ha hah! Thanks boss, but I try not t'do much'a that. I did my cryin' f'six days after I had locked myself up in m'room. I got all tha' tears I could ever shed outta' me then. Tha' whole world wass' goin' t'shit, and I wass' bawlin' in my room." explained Asher, shrugging off a bit of it. "I had time t'cope. But..." He looked down at the tiles that lined the pools floor, and then up at her again with a smile, "Thanks. Y'definitely a lot nicer than tha' guys that picked me up outta' there."

Card returned the smile, her own emotions under control again. "Well, I should hope so! No offense to your savior, but he was a survivor in the middle of what sounds like one of the worst crises in history. If I was doing worse than him I would have to be down right evil."

"Now, I don't want to force a move to soon, but..." The Drill-Captain paused, a war of emotions passing briefly by her face as she tried to figure out how to proceed. "We do still need to get you so you can tolerate the water. But, in the face, of what you told me and if that is why you're afriad of water for some reason, we shouldn't go on immediately. Mostly though I need your input, this is a two-man job now and you have a better grasp on the details than I do."

"Input? I thought it wass' your turn." said Asher, confusion spreading on his face. He shifted a little, his helmet scraping against the abrasive floor.

"Asher you told me the how to your fear, but I still don't know the why. Nothing you told me points towards why water activates the memories, so -" Card shrugged. "I guess I just need a little bit more from your side."

"Oh! Heh heh." He chuckles, rubbing his messy head of hair, his hand gracing by the scar from a few-days past on his face. "I thought we wass' playin' tha' story game, f'some reason."

Card let out a full laugh, and shook her head. "Private, I'm afraid for you even more now, if you haven't figured out yet that an officer's story cost more than that of a recruite, well then, you might not go so far. I'll need to see some progress from you before you get to pass the baton over this way!"

"I ain't eva' heard'a that rule before." said Asher, thumbing at his nose once, "Well, good t'know at least. Back on Surandan, if y'lost tha' story game, y'got tha' shit beat outta' ya. I really wasn' lookin' forward t'breakin' that pretty nose a'yours." The Marine scratched his head, and looked up at the ceiling, "But uh, tha' pool story, right? Thass' 'bout my friends Huey n'Dave. When I wass' thirteen, I wass' pretty low on tha' totem pole, but H. n' D., they wass' a lil' lower, even if they was a little olda'." He sighed, and looked off over the gently rippling waters of the pool, "It happend in some wata' juss' like that, only outside. I remembah tha' Clan Chief had sent us out t'get some supplies. n'We were travelin' on Baker Street, yeah? Usual day, gettin' dark, and we was on our way back, when D. gets tha' idea in his head that we should probably take a short cut n'hurry.

"So, we cut troo' this one buildin' complex, and iss' got a pool in it. N'man, am fascinated. I used t'love swimin', especially wit' mom. It was all I could think about when I wass' starin' inta' tha' water..." Asher hunched over a bit, shaking slightly, much in the fashion he had when had risen out of the water. He was silent again.

Card nodded, her muscles going tense as she saw the man start to quiver. She wasn't sure what exactly she would do if the man had another attack, but she could at least be ready to supply a steadying hand or two.

"Go on, your almost through it." The officer's voice was patient as she waited on Asher.

"... A pair eyes opened up in tha' wata'..." Asher looked up, but not directly into Card's face. He had been taught never to look a person in the eyes if you were scared, never take your eyes off, but never look directly. "Like two fuckin' lightbulbs lightin' up in tha' murk. All a'sudden, a pair a'pale hands rises up out of tha' water, and pulls me in. Man... I..." He shook again, balling up slightly. "I... couldn't do anything... Next thing I know, there's more hands tearin at my arma', at my skin. Like... a hundred fuckin'... pale... fuckin'... hands..." His rough hand forced up against his face, as he tried to force his words out, almost spitting them. "Each one eitha' grabbin' and pullin' me down, or scratchin' at me. All I could really see, wass' tha' light of tha' edge, slowly dissappearin'. Next thing I know... I see different hands come in, weildin' sharp shit, cuttin' at tha' shit holdin' me down. It wass' Huey... n'Dave... they dove in..." It was starting to become unbearable, "They dove in..." he sucked his lip in, and began to rock slowly. "They dove in... and pulled me away... I could see'm... two blurs defendin' me from that fuckin' mutie... I made a break f'tha' edge, and I pulled up n'outta' that shit fasta' than anyone could." After that, he fell silent for a few seconds, the air in the room the sound accompanying them.

"When I got out, I wass' pukin' wata', and by tha' time I could look back, all I could see wass' a red pool... Just... fuckin'... red..." he spat his words again. "Huey... Dave... They both died savin' my sorry ass. They were tha' first friends I had in that hell-hole afta' tha' war started. They threw their lives away, just f'me. I neva' felt special, more... Empty, really. Eva' since, I couldn't manage gettin' tha' wata'. It all juss' comes back so fast, n'every time I juss' keep seein' their faces, and tha' whole memory plays over like a broken fuckin' record."

Card nodded again, then blew air out slowly between her lips as she thought on what she could say. "I don't really have a good argument to that, but I can say if we can get you through all this, you'll be assigned to a unit and one day you might find yourself in water again. If you conquer your fear then maybe then you'll be there when someone else starts going under it will be your turn to do what your friends did - and come out with everyone alive."

"As for more immediate concerns, I can assure you if you go in again you'll have the best back up possible and I'll make sure to see us both through okay no matter how many times you trip." Card stopped and shrugged, not really sure if she helped there or not.

"Naw." went Asher, grabbing the edges of his helmet, and bouncing up and coming down with an audible clack of armor hitting stone. His red eyes were giving Card's a defiant look. "I poured my fuckin' heart out. If that ain't 'nuff t'hear your story, I don't think there's anybody alive who knows."

User avatar
Kokuten
Posts: 439
Joined: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:06 pm

Re: [Waypoint] Digging Deep

Post by Kokuten » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:22 pm

Card started to shake her head, then stopped. When she responded there was a hint of resignation in her voice. "Alright, if you won't let us get on with things - and it is too late for to feel like forcing you to - then I'll just have to go ahead and satisfy your curiosity." This time the Drill-Captain did shake her head before continueing. "It's, well, for me it wasn't as bad - I wasn't actually ever there to see the lizards' handywork."

Card stopped and sighed, she figured she would have to start from the beginning for much of what happened to make any sense. "My family lived on one of the old border planets." Memories rushed up at Card and she had to work past a lump in her throat to speak again. "Henrod's World, the place didn't have a very inventive name and I wasn't actually born there, but it was still home to me, where I grew up."

The Drill-Captain stopped to breathe as her anger flared up, like most of the other borderworlds Henrod's had been in the first wave of conquest for the lizards after the Drathonian Betrayal.

Having calmed herself, Card got back to telling the basics. "My father left me and my mother before I could even walk - it was honestly a good thing though, from what I gathered after the fact they could barely stand each other in the end. But, by the time I was tottering my mom had decided it was time to move on, that's when we made our way to Henrod's."

"She remarried there. He was an ex-military man - a large porion of the planet was. I liked him, he was a good man, respected by the community and always ready to speak up for someone when they needed it most." A ghost of a smile passed over Card's face. "It certainly didn't ruin my impression of him that he brought more than just himself into the family. He had already had a son from a previous relationship."

Card stopped there for a second, a peculiar silence settling in for a few seconds as she looked down at the ground. Bringing her head back up, she continued. "He was nice enough, older than me by what at the time seemed a significant amount of years, but now doesn't seem nearly so much. He could be... cold though, very cold at times. His dad used to say he liked to rely on logic a bit too much."

"Eh? Heh heh heh." went Asher, chuckling light-heartedly. He slammed his fists together a few times. "Sounds like tha' kinda' guy we used t'rough up f'bein' too smart-mouthed back home. No offense t'ya bro, a'course, juss' sayin' he'd have a black-eye some time." Went Asher, enjoying how this story was going thus far. It was surprisingly nice, despite the weird looks she seemed to be giving every now and then. The Surandanian leaned forward on his knee, holding his head up with his hand on his cheek. "So, what went on next?"

"Next?"

"Yeah, next. That wass' pretty borin' compared t'what I told ya."

Card chuckled at that. "I told you mine wasn't nearly as bad, and "bad" for you most likely translates to intresting."

Waving a hand to ward off anymore input, the Drill-C`ptain continued. "I left all three of them, joined a peace time Marine Corps and got myself sent off for training away from home. The peace didn't last of course, our allies turned on us."

"At the time it almost made it worse that I wasn't there for it. I hadn't seen my family for months when they died. It shook me, especially after I saw the footage of it. The lizards had had a bunch of their little runts tape and broadcast the killings. Had enough of them to even cover their work in multiple angles."

Card tried to force out a morbid chuckle at that, tried to do something to relieve the emptiness that was welling up inside her.

"Sheesh." went Asher scratching his chin with his spare hand, scarred fingers going back and forth right below the base of his spike. "Can't say wass' worse. Losin' y'family t'ya family, or losin'm from someone else." The Surandanian looked up from his leaning position, looking up into Card's eyes. It wasn't hard to tell that this was getting a little difficult for her, and going any further would probably bring up more that would be hard to cope with. What seemed so wrong in him was that he wanted to know more. Yet... It felt wrong to make that a requirement out of her. "Say, boss. Why don' we get movin' on t'tha' sinkin'. You don' gotta' tell me no more, if ya don' wanna'."

In response Card attempted to shake her head, but only managed to jerk it a bit to either side. The Drill-Captain had hurtled herself into her memories and they weren't going to let go so easily.

When she closed her eyes to collect herself the footage came back to her as clear as the days she first saw it. They had all been people she had known, apparantly her step-father and his group of friends had a made a bit too much of a nuisance of themselves when the Drathonians came to slaughter the whole planet's populace.

What had been done to those men and women was burned into her brain. The lizards had wielded flame and blade and other, more grizzly tools as they "treated" their "guests". The screams of her friends as they were flayed alive, or burned, or...

Card forced herself to stop. Shaking her head violently and snapping her eyes open she looked back at Asher. When she spoke to him again her voice had been reduced to an emotionless monotone.

"I don't know how many times I watched them die. My mother, cut and cut and cut and cut again and again. Each wound shallow, superficial - but, they evauntually added up. She was one of the few who didn't scream, but she was also one of the last to be... seen. She just wimpered and jerked feablely as one of Drathonians dragged his blade over her skin over and over. I never knew it could take so long for someone to bleed to death."

"My step-father, he was the very last to go. By the end there wasn't much left of the man I had respected and even come to love as a father. He had been a leader for all those men and women and all their deaths - not just my mother's - had broken him. For him they just pulled him to his feet and their leader took his knife and made one simple cut... and then thrust his hand into my step-fahter's chest. The lizard pulled out his heart and held it above his head like a trophy before... crushing it... into nothingness."

Card remaing where she was, squatting on the ground, her hands clasped before her and her eyes staring at the ground.

"Boss?" muttered Asher, trying to figure out a good way to be consoling. Even when he did live with people, after the apocalypse, he was always forced to suck it up when something bad happened. As a result, Asher had little in the way of comforting someone, or at least, he didn't know how. So, he looked at his spare hand, and then, relunctantly, placed it on her shoulder. "Can't imagine what that wass' like... Anything I eva' knew juss' ate what I loved... Can't imagine..."

Think god damn it. Words ain't difficult! thought the man, his face twisting a little, "Can't imagine a slow death like that, tha' sufferin' an'... an'shit." Even when he killed someone, he didn't let the suffering last. Then, a recollection of her words came back to him, and his grasp on her should squeezed for a moment, "If y'need ta'..." his sentence took a moment, "If y'need ta' cry or somethin', you can. I mean, y'know... You said you wouldn' judge me. I ain't gunna' judge ya."

Card shook her head and then smiled sadly. "I'll be alright, it hurts but the wound isn't fresh enough anymore. Trust me, I cried enough when it happened. Thanks though, it's... it is good to talk to someone about it every once in a while."

"Sure thing, boss." Asher grinned his shark-toothed smile, and patted Card's shoulder, "It felt pretty good t'let out... All that I been holdin' in tha' past decade. Like I ain't tha' only one who knows. So, I'll listen if you gotta' say more."

Card shook her head again, she felt no need to let Asher know that in the aftermath of her own dilema she had attempted to kill herself, especially not when the Surandanian had suffered through so much more in just surviving in the hell hole his home had become.

Looking up finally and out one of the windows Card all of a sudden made a slightly strangled sounding noise. Waypoint's sky was already beginning to brighten, a light grey light heralding that the sun was soon rising.

Looking at her watch to confirm what she was seeing served to only make the Drill-Captain groan. "Private... well, we seem to be running a bit late. And, what I mean by that is, even with the morning off your looking at only about five more hours before you have to rejoin the training group." In her mind, Card continued the statement, and I'm only looking at something that looks uncomfortably like two.

"Eh, I had trouble sleepin' at night anyway. Iss' too damn quiet. There ain't no scratchin', growlin', or clawin' at tha' doors. Makes it feel like somethin' shitty's gunna' happen." said Asher rubbing the bottom of his chin again, as he stared boredly at the window. He looked back at her, and grinned, "'Sides! Five hours 'iss more than I' been gettin' f'tha' last fifteen years, yeah? I might sleep pretty good! Heh heh." The surandanian made a playful lean backwards on his helmet, "At least you ain't gotta' do too much when you go for mornin' drills, y'juss' need t'yell at folks, n'shit."

Card yawned and stood, as she stretched she heard a few loud pops. "I think if you come by earlier you'll find that that my sergeant will have done much of the yelling for the morning and I'll have been practicing my "disapproving stare" for the most part."

Looking down with a sudden realization, Card noticed she was still in her wet suit and Asher in his marine issue deep water combat gear. "Now, I know I need to get changed and unless your thinking about sleeping in that rig so do you, so that would mean it's time end your first session." Card put a certain extra amount of force on the word "first" to make sure the Surandanian knew that he wasn't free from his hydrophobia training yet.

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