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   Chapter 2 Training.

Bactine By Paul Kater Characters: 12156

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:03

Daniel woke up with a startle. He'd had the day off yesterday. He had spent it getting new clothes, walking around, thinking, talking to a psychologist specialised in Rebuilts. Daniel had also tried to get drunk. It had not worked. It had only run up his tab. And today he would begin his retraining. The training designed for Rebuilts, to learn how to function properly inside the new body, to make use of all its advantages, and to learn about any disadvantages. He was sure of the latter, although nobody had mentioned to him that there were any.

He looked around for a moment, groggy, trying to find the alarm that had woken him up. "Urgh, " he uttered as he manipulated a thought and the alarm went silent. He had told his inner clock to wake him up at 6:30 sharp. It was 6:30. And it was very bizarre to find out that despite his modified parts he could still feel groggy like a real person. Now there was something the specialists should work on. No hangover, but grogginess still worked.

He got up, dressed and headed to the mess for some food. After that he went to the seventeenth level of the building, where he should report to the commander of his new unit.

R1. That was the unit's short name. R for Rebuilts, no doubt, Daniel thought as he waved his hand over the identification plaque. The light did not switch to green, the door did not open. "Now what..."

"Can't get in?" a massive woman asked as she walked up to him. "Sergeant Abbott, " she continued, introducing herself.

"Daniel Zacharias, and indeed, can't get in."

"Ah, right. You're the latest addition. You've probably not been authorised. I can fix that for you, just come on in." Sergeant Abbott opened the door and let him in. Behind the door was a small office, with standard everything.

"Call me Wilma, " the woman said, "and I'll call you Daniel. We're low on formalities once we're in here. Okay?"

"Sure, Wilma." Daniel said.

She quickly got him authorised in the system, made him go out and come in, which worked all fine now. "Frigids, " she nodded. "Burt will be in soon, go grab some coffee, tea or Blint. It's over there in the corner." Upon Daniel's frown, she explained that Burt, sergeant O'Shaughnessy, was the instructor that he had been assigned to. "And you're lucky. He's good. Really good."

Daniel opted for coffee. Blint had never been his taste. The weird nean-green stuff that was imported from some faraway distant place either agreed with you or made you violently sick.

Three more Rebuilts came in. They all were trainees, like Daniel, and with the program since a few weeks already. Troy, one of the men, was about to go out on missions again, Daniel learnt, and the other two still had some time to go before they were ready. It made him wonder how long the training would be. Shrugging it off did not work.

With four Rebuilt people in there, Wilma's office was rapidly filling up. "Gentlemen, I would really appreciate it if you were to make yourselves scarce here and give me room to move, okay?" she said.

Troy made a remark about how glad she should be with all the male presence. Daniel frowned at that. Wilma was not a pretty woman, but he was certain she was good for her job, and that was what counted. Phil, one of the others, beat Daniel to pointing that out to Troy and then they moved to a rather large room where they awaited Burt's arrival.

Burt was an amiable character, Daniel decided at the end of the day. The trainer was a Rebuilt himself, and knew exactly where most of the pains were.

"I've been training Rebuilts since four years, Daniel. I've seen just about any problem that can come up. Now that does not mean I've seen them all. After all, everyone is different and there is no way anyone can predict how someone deals with being Rebuilt. So if there is anything that you are worried about, or you just need someone to talk to, don't wait. Come to me." Burt was sincere towards Daniel, as he was towards everyone. "And that goes for wanting to cry also."

Daniel looked at his trainer in surprise. These last words surprised him. "Beg your pardon?"

Burt nodded, still sincere. "I mean that. It's not that I expect you to break down and come sobbing, but I do want you to know that you can come to me if you have problems. And also Wilma is able to guide you. She's had a psychological training for helping people with emotional trauma, and together we worked out how we can fine-tune that for Rebuilt people."

That was something Daniel had not expected. "Oh. Right." Something in his face betrayed his thoughts.

"What's up, Daniel? Spit it out." Burt waited.

"It's just that... uhm... it's just rumours, I guess." Daniel shook his head, embarrassed that he had been so obvious. The rumours were very untrue.

"What rumours?" Burt did not let Daniel get away like that.

"Things that people say. About Rebuilts."

Burt nodded. "Tell me about them."

"You've probably heard them before." Daniel felt awkward. This did not strike him as military stuff.

"So tell me again, Daniel."

"We used to joke that Rebuilts are robots. Cybord. A kind of humanoid machines." Daniel felt ashamed about that now.

Burt grinned. "Oh. That. Forget that, Daniel, that's an old hat. Point is that high command does not want too much integration of regular folk and us Rebuilts. Their reason for that is that regular soldiers will start to feel inferior when they are around us too much, since we're different. And yes, it is because they are think we are better, " Burt spoke out Daniel's thought.

Daniel nodded. "Yeah, I can see where that comes from." With two fingers he lifted the table, just for a few moments.

"Daniel? Don't." Burt's voice sounded commanding. It had to be obeyed. "Don't fall into that trap, boy. You're way too smart for that."

Daniel did not feel like he was falling into something, though. He felt as if he had already gone in, head over Rebuilt heels. "I'll be fine, Burt. Thanks for the talk."

"I don't believe a word of that, but I'll be easy on you toda

y, Daniel. Now go get some food in yourself and try to relax. There is another day tomorrow, you'll do and feel better by then."

"I take it that's an order?" Daniel asked as he got up.

"No. Take that as a promise." Burt got up also and put a hand on Daniel's shoulder, with surprising gentleness. "The first days are always the hardest. It's tough dealing with a world that's gone upside down, but you are doing great."

"Hmm. Doesn't feel like that, Burt." Daniel shook his head to emphasise his feelings.

"Let me tell you, Daniel, that you will make it. I always worry about the boys that act as if nothing happened, as if they can pick up their life as if they only suffered a flesh wound. Now get your butt out of here."

Daniel grinned. "Yes sir." After a mock salute he left the room.


In the mess he met Phil. His fellow trainee was sitting alone at a table. "Mind if I join you?" Daniel asked.

"No. Please do."

Daniel took a seat and got ready to eat. "Why aren't you sitting with Troy and Ludo?"

Phil grinned wryly. "Same reason you don't, I think. They're too loud. Not many people like them." He glanced over at the table where the two others sat, near a window, a full line of empty tables between them and the rest of the star base personnel. "Ludo's okay, really, he just gets influenced by Troy too much."

Daniel nodded, he had noticed that too. Just this first day had taught him a lot about the three others already. "Maybe we should try and get Ludo away from Troy, " he said.

"Maybe, " Phil shrugged. "Never really tried. Not sure what Troy will do."

"We'll just have to prevent him from being able to do something. Occupy him, " Daniel thought out loud. As he glanced over to the table with the subjects of their talk, he uncomfortably realised that there were also a lot of empty tables between Phil and him and the others.

"Sucks, doesn't it?" Phil also seemed to be able to read his mind. "We all notice that sooner or later. Old friendships suddenly don't seem to count anymore once you're Rebuilt."

Daniel slowly nodded. He thought back to meeting Christian, just a few days ago. Chris had been friendly and had agreed to stay in touch, but had not responded to the two messages Daniel had sent, wishing him well with the surgery and recovery. Received. Not replied.

"We've all been there, Daniel. It gets better after a while."

"I guess. I hope that 'whiles' are short then."

"Uh-oh..." Phil said. The reason became clear quickly as Troy walked up to their table.

"Hey, Daniel. Why are you joining the lonely crew? Plenty of seats where Ludo and me are."

"I'm good here, Troy. Thanks for asking though, " Daniel replied to the Rebuilt man.

"Good? Did you notice that's Phil?" Troy raised his voice to an unnecessary volume. He had a loud voice to start with, so now he wanted to make sure he'd be heard by everyone.

"Come on, Troy, " said Daniel, "no need for this. We're eating."

"Yeah. I see that. I do hope you enjoy sitting together, girls." With that the man turned and walked back to his table, wiggling his hips in a very stupid way.

"Asshole, " Phil muttered.

"I heard that, Phyllis, " Troy said without turning back to them. The ears of a Rebuilt were quite a lot better than those of regular people, after all.

"Let him, " Daniel said, not caring if Troy heard him or not. "He's not worth the air you spend on that."

"I know. He just pisses me off so easily, " Phil grumbled.

"And he knows that. You provide him with far too much wood to light his fire. Don't. Ignore him. Be correct and no more." Daniel turned back to his food. He knew that Troy would be mocking them. And Ludo would play along with the game, as he apparently had no desire to resist Troy.

"Let's just hope he's leaving us soon. Goes on a mission. Far away." Phil then fell silent again also.

Daniel agreed with Phil in the same silence.

After dinner, Daniel went for a walk around the less populated part of the base. He needed some time to clear his head, get things in the right perspective. He was happy with Burt being his trainer. That man was someone he would never have expected in this situation. Not only was he a Rebuilt also, he truly seemed to understand people.

He reached the Glass Dome, a place that was originally designed to be an observatory. Only after completion the smart folks had discovered it was looking at the wrong side of the constellation. As the place had been built, it had been left there, and a new Dome had been built at the right place. This now was a place where a person could feel alone. Daniel loved coming to the Glass Dome. Usually there was nobody here, there was nothing that obstructed one's vision, and it was quiet.

He sat down, his back against the wall, and stared up at the stars and the few odd and uninhabitable planets that were visible from there. From that place he thought about Troy, Ludo and Phil. Troy, he decided, was probably one of the types that Burt would worry about. He was nothing but loud, bragging and too carefree about being a Rebuilt. Maybe it was worth looking up why Troy had been Rebuilt; there had to be something about him that warranted that. Ludo... now there was a character Daniel could not see through. The man was okay, struck him as reliable. But only without the likes of Troy around. An overwhelming personality would swipe Ludo off his feet and take over his thinking. A dangerous trait. Phil was a good man. Too short a fuse at times, Daniel considered, judging how easily Troy could anger him.

"Hey, sailor, " a voice pulled Daniel from his ponderings. It was Rhonda, in her eternal camouflage. "Mind if I come sit here also?"

"No, do sit, " Daniel said.

Rhonda asked how he was doing. How the first real day had gone by. And if he had any questions about his new body. "Not the kind that your trainer can answer, of course."

He had none.

Rhonda smiled. She pulled a cable from her pocket. "Gosh. Now look what I found here." She slipped one end in Daniel's hand.

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