The written exam ended up being pretty much the same test I passed when I first took interest in becoming a scout, both dealt with my outlook on a variety of topics. You either fit what they are looking for or you don't, which is the main bar of entry for most people, my results for this particular test should be delivered to me within the next 24 hours.
With an unpracticed fumble I pull the map of the grounds back out of my bag and follow the lines Ms.Zora Drew to my next destination for my physical exam. The halls are still hauntingly empty of people, leaving a ghostly sensation of abandonment to echo with my footsteps on the dark tile floors. Arched ceilings above make me feel small, but the sudden ring of some sort of bell blasts into the tall space, startling me into nearly dropping my map. Doors open and people flood out, not an exorbitant amount of them, but enough to bring back a sense of humanity to the halls. I shuffle through the bustle, sliding past uniform covered figures that all seem to be staring sidelong at me in an attempt at subtly, though I can see the gliding of eyes clearly. Before the massive hallway clears fully of scouts I arrive at a plain metallic door, above it on a silver placard I read "AF35" marked in bold print. As soon as my boots meet the ground in front of the door it slides open, and a low rasping voice mutters from inside for me to come in. The room is dark, just enough light filters in through shut blinds for my eyes to spot the white coated figure with a messy bundle of curly blonde hair and pale sunless skin settled in at a desk that is overcrowded with disposable paper cups empty and crumpled. The person pours a more steaming liquid into a fresh paper cup and takes it like a shot, the smell of coffee hits my nose like a wall.
"Allon?" They say, crushing the cup in one hand.
"Yes, Pace Allon, are you the Doctor?" I question, shuffling further into the darkness.
"Just call me Jo." They spin around in the chair, tossing the cup behind them.
Their hands grip the arm rests, they lean forward.
"...alright, Jo I'm here for my physical exam." I gently remind, as this person seems over-caffeinated and distracted.
"Right right, sit over there." They wave their hand towards the rest of the room, which allows me to notice a singular exam table standing lonely pushed up against the wall.
Following instructions, I walk over and take a seat and let my eyes roam the shadow obscured room. Jo stands up and walks over to the window, pulling the blinds open letting sunlight in and temporarily blinding me, the office is lit up by the shafts of light. Little floats of dust particles drift by when Jo comes in to view, suddenly right in front of me due to my own distractions.
"Let's get this out of the way shall we?" Jo says, pulling up a clipboard.
I passed the physical exam, with flying colors, though Jo told me I need to drink less caffeine. Sounded a little hypocritical, but I didn't protest. The feeling of relief that I get from passing at least once of my exams is pretty good, every muscle in my body slightly relaxes. After exiting the office not really sure what to do, I don't have any assignments or training to do yet to take up time here. O'linn isn't supposed to come for me until the end of today's hours, so I'm just on standby. Forgoing any of my less wise choices, I head back towards the front desk through once again empty halls. Ms. Zora is sitting at her desk once again, typing on a number of hovering screens, glasses reflecting the blue glow back over the room.
"Ma'am, I've finished my exams, do you know if there's a library I have access to currently?" I ask, stepping up to the edge of her desk.
She seems mildly surprised at my appearance, but looks up from her work to level me with a thoughtful stare.
"I'll just give you a visitor's pass." She says, turning around to rummage through a drawer once again, she then tosses me a black lanyard with the word "Visitor" in a bulky print on one side and a sort of bar code on the other, which I catch out of the air. "You're already in the system so that plus the pass should let you into most trainee spaces unimpeded."
I flip the lanyard around a few times to inspect it then and put it around my neck for simplicity sake. "Thank you Ms. Zora, you're the best." I smile at her and march off further into the building in search of libraries, media lounges, and research compendiums.
I spend the rest of the day perusing the massive amount of information contained in the scouts headquarters, there's everything I could ever have wanted for. Every rare book I couldn't afford, information formerly classified information, spell books that have never been copied, histories lost to any other place than this one specific sanctuary. I'm sitting, hunched over an old tome with yellowed pages, special gloves on my hands to keep from damaging said pages, when I hear a familiar and loud cough behind me.
"They told me you were going into the Lore keeper division, but I had no idea you were this much of a nerd." O'linn says, walking up and putting his hands on either side of my shoulders on the chair.
"Is it 17:00 already?" I ask, gently closing my book and setting it aside on a stand.
"Yes, in fact it's nearly 18:30, the library doesn't close until 19:00 but I figured I'd get you before they throw you out on your ass." He says with a smirk.
"Oh… thank you, I should probably leave the-" I pause in the middle of getting up as my eyes land on a person standing behind O'linn, the one I saw him kiss this morning. "Oh, who is your friend?" I ask.
O'linn looks over his shoulder and smirks, motioning for the person to come over. I finish standing up and slide the gloves off my hands to set them in a box of other used gloves.
"Hello, I'm Mazlo, O'linn's girlfriend, it's nice to meet you, I've been looking forward to it ever since he got assigned to you and then wouldn't shut up about getting to be the escort of the newest trainee." She sticks her hand out and I receive it, shaking firmly.
I can tell just from her grip strength that she's probably part of the warriors division of the Scouts, that and the deep green sash that runs over her shoulder and down her waist. Mazlo is a tall woman with long chestnut hair, braided back and pinned into a bun, her hazel eyes sparkle in the sunset light coming through the window, she reminds me of an oak tree for some reason. O'linn wraps an arm around her shoulder after the handshake ends, giving a chaste kiss to her cheek.
"Maz, why must you embarrass me so?" He asks, in a faux forlorn voice.
"Because it's funny." She deadpans, pinching his nose.
An involuntary smile crawls onto my face, they seem happy together. There's hope yet for my dating life, considering there are couples here that aren't crushed to the ruin with stress.
"I'm Pace, glad I can help contribute to O'linn' s embarrassment, nice to meet you." I say to her, sliding my bag back onto my shoulder "Do I need to return this badge to the front desk?"
"No, not until they issue you an official badge, assuming you pass all the tests and such." O'linn informs me.
"Oh yeah, did you meet Doc Jo?" Mazlo asks.
"I did, they seemed stressed." I reply, a strained expression pulling onto my face.
O'linn and Mazlo start guiding me out of the library, towards the main entrance.
"Well… there was an incident about a month and a half ago, some fresh graduates from the academy got lost on the trails near the border doing their first assigned mission." O'linn says, rubbing his hand on his shoulder nervously.
Mazlo taps her fingers on her leg, looking off to the side.
"Really? Why would Jo be stressed about lost scouts?" I ask, this already seems like a touchy subject.
O'linn looks around the hall we are walking in, he turns to me lowering his voice. "It wouldn't be bad if they had just got lost, but after two weeks we sent out a search party, they found all five of their bodies strung up on the border. Doc Jo has been dealing with the autopsies and such since they got brought back."
I let this information wash over me, before coming here I was warned that gruesome things happen in the forest of Aconholt, but five new recruits killed and hung on their first outing is pretty extreme.
"I guess the prospects are as grim as I've been told." I mutter.
Both Mazlo and O'linn nod, eyes darting around to make sure no one is listening. We reach the entrance and exit out into the sunset ready to drive back to the dormitories. Here's to hoping I make it past mission one.
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