Chapter 9: Training
About fifty people assembled in a courtyard at the training grounds of the Defense Militia. Among them was Drake, standing in line with the rest. In front of the crowd of soon-to-be soldiers, were the higher-ups of the Militia. Drake was at the introductory session for the Militia, a sort of orientation. Everyone here would be his classmates, in training to fight the threats that were Mayhems. For Drake, fifty people volunteering to join the Militia was way too few, compared to the hundreds of thousands in the city. What were they doing, lazing around? Now was the time to fight.
The atmosphere among the crowd was silent and depressing, which also confused Drake because everyone should be overjoyed that they would be getting some revenge.
The presenters here consisted of General Arthur, along with his three subordinate team leaders. Drake remembered seeing the General at the meeting two days ago.
Apparently, the military rank system varied from what was used in the country before the Apocalypse. Now, there were just three ranks, excluding trainees: Private, Commander, and General. The ranks of the previously existing soldiers were adjusted to fit these.
The General spoke, “Welcome to the Militia, boys. I’m the head of Rencia’s defense. My name is General Darian Arthur. These three here are in charge of you lot. You’d do well to remember our names. Our job here is to turn you sacks mayhem fodder that is called a Defense Militia, into a Defense Force: An Army that won’t ever lose to those oversized animals and will fight bravely for the sake of humanity.
“For the next few months, each and every one of you will undergo intense, rigorous training. By the end of it, you will be ready to fight any Mayhem that threatens Rencia and its missions outside the Walls. You will learn about our enemy, learn how to fight our enemy, and learn how to conquer our enemy together. Your training schedule was made so that, by the end of each and every day, you will be physically and mentally exhausted, but each and every one of you will be slowly shaped into a Mayhem killing machine. Are you all ready?!” he shouted with fervor.
Despite the speech not being too exciting, the crowd responded enthusiastically. Drake yelled back, too, all fired up. This was it! The beginning of his new life.
* * *
Drake had expected a more action-filled beginning for his training, but here he was, in a make-shift classroom. He was essentially back at school. The students were divided into teams, led by the three Commanders. Drake was under Commander Rein. This was only their second day, and yet people already started rumors about Rein’s strength in combat. The commander himself rarely spoke. He was intimidating. Drake could already see him as a potential role model. He wanted to be strong like him.
Drake could spend hours each day training his muscles, learning how to fight, and honing his fighting skills. Yet he was in a classroom now. They were told that every other day, they would be learning in the classroom, and the alternate days would be physical exercise. He wondered what the use of learning non-combative stuff was to fight Mayhems.
A woman walked into the room. “Greetings. My name is Emma Walker. I will be your science teacher from now on.”
Seriously. What the heck is this?! I did join the Defense Militia, right? Drake thought. He didn’t join the militia to go back to school.
“I’m sure some of you are wondering why I’m here. Mayhems, as they’re called now, are an enemy that we know little about. Currently, there are only two things that we can use to our advantage in fighting them. One is their predictability in actions; they only care about eating humans, and they’re not very bright. The other advantage is our knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. Every good soldier looks for knowledge of their opponent before fighting them.
“Mayhems have the same abilities as their animal counterparts, so if we study the biology of the animals, we can understand how to fight the Mayhems, especially their weaknesses. I hope you’ve understood by now what this class is for: Learning how to defeat and survive against Mayhems!”
Oh! Drake realized. He remembered the time he was on the farm. He didn’t know anything about spiders, so he didn’t know if the Spider Mayhem could smell him or not. That lack of knowledge would have been enough to kill him, and he wished he knew more about animals.
Drake changed his mind. This class would actually be pretty important if he wanted to kill Mayhems. He’d have to stop daydreaming and pay attention to it, unlike school.
* * *
It was the next day, and Drake and the others were dressed in non-flammable skin-tight suits and helmets. What is it now?!? The instructors had told them to put on the suits and go to the roof of the Militia building.
On the rooftop, the instructors awaited them. They had laid on the floor some machines. One per person. They helped the trainees put them on. Drake understood what they were as soon as he saw that they were to be worn like backpacks and had large cylinders on either side. They were jetpacks.
Jetpacks were rare, even in Drake’s time. They were used mostly by the military for quick travel up into the air, for scouting, and such. They have had almost two hundred years to improve in efficiency, weight, time of use without refueling, and size, but they were still very expensive. To think the city had such non-essential supplies, they seem to have planned for every possibility.
Drake put on the jetpack. It wasn’t too heavy, surprisingly; maybe it was fifteen pounds. Two engines protruded behind him, facing downwards. Two more, smaller ones, were on either side of him, and in charge of backward-forward maneuvering. On his back were the fuel and reaction-controlling computer. The fuel was evidently very volatile, and the reaction control mechanism wasn’t very rugged, so they would have to be careful not to physically break the jetpack. Otherwise, it could explode. To his left, a mechanical arm protruded from the pack. At the end were some controls for the level of thrust. He could increase it, decrease it, hover in place, among other things. There was a computer running it to keep flight stable.
It was so cool to Drake that he would get the chance to use one of these.
“Listen up,” an instructor said, “Mayhems aren’t your normal enemy. Defeating them requires a different fighting style. You’re learning about their weaknesses in the classroom. You’ll be learning how to attack them here. Since the monsters are big, we won’t be able to reach their vitals by being stuck on the ground. You won’t be able to evade their attacks easily either. You’ll have to fly around to solve these problems. You can quickly move around anywhere with these jetpacks, so we’ll be teaching you how to use them.”
The instructors taught everyone in Drake’s team how to turn on the jetpacks. Drake did so. He could feel the heat of the slowly burning engine against his back.
“After you learn how to use these comfortably, we’ll show you all how to use a gun, and after that, you’ll have to shoot while flying. While you’re learning all of this, you’ll also be undergoing physical training daily. This method of fighting is something that has been developed in theory only, so we’ll be learning alongside you. We all can only hope that this will be useful in fighting actual Mayhems.” An instructor pointed down to the ground. It was in the large Militia courtyard. “Your goal for today is to reach down there on your jetpacks.”
The plan seemed comprehensible and simple to Drake. He got started without a second thought, trying out the controls, which spun him around in the air in all directions. By evening, a dizzy Drake was the first to reach the goal. It wasn’t too difficult to do.
He smiled. “Alright! First step down. I can master this in no time. Let’s do this!”