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The Crucible

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  • The Crucible

    The Chiron morning dawned cool and bright, something that the early settlers of
    Planet had found comforting. A small reminder too many of the homes they had left, to continue humanity’s survival on this new and strange world. The double suns were barely visible above the horizon, two golden orbs suspended in the hazy sky. The sun cast it’s glow on the utilitarian (many would call it dull) gray buildings that served as the barracks and training centers for the many young men here, undergoing the process known as The Crucible. The year long process that turned young men into Spartan warriors. Universally recognized as the most grueling military training required by any faction, the Spartans took great pride in the fact that they pushed their young men harder and trained them better than any other faction on Planet. A visiting Peacekeeper general, upon viewing the Spartan training process had commented that no Peacekeeper could go through the Crucible and survive. But it was expected of all Spartan citizens, even the women. That they had to attend the Crucible training and survive. It was also recognized that as much as the Crucible was a military training regimen, it was also a key point of indoctrination, where the young men and women were imbued with the history and fighting spirit of their faction.

    For two battalions of trainees, today marked the culmination of that one year of intense training. All the pain, mental fatigue, and stress were finally paying off. They were graduating from training, to be folded into a regiment for active duty. Very likely they would be sent to the front against the Hive. For now there was only the euphoria of graduation and being able to bear the title of a true Spartan. The new warriors were clothed in the jet black dress uniform of the Spartan military. Their uniforms ironed and pressed until the creases were razor sharp and not a wrinkle was apparent. Not a piece of lint could be found anywhere on the black fabric and the synthbrass shone like gold from the hours of polish. Their dress shoes reflected the lights of the squad bay and the Spartan crest on their left breast shone like Alpha Centauri A. Their training instructors, also resplendent in their dress blacks and campaign covers looked down the line of new warriors with steely gazes, that did not betray their pride in having turned another batch of young men into trained soldiers. Spartan soldiers, the very best. The senior instructor called his platoon to attention and quickly moved them out of the squad bay, which would soon by occupied by another platoon in it’s last phase of training.

    Trainees still waiting for graduation jogged by the graduating platoon, in formation singing the cadence given them by their instructor.

    “Hey, Morgans.”
    ”Hey, Morgans.”
    “Put down your cash, come follow me.”
    ”Put down your cash, come follow me.”
    “I am Spartan infantry.”
    ”I am Spartan infantry.”

    This simple cadence brought back a flood of memories for the passing platoon, who knew what these trainees had gone through and what they were about to go through. Twelve months of extreme training served to bond these men together, a bond which they felt certain no other faction could understand. It was the bond of shared sweat and sacrifice, and if necessary would be a bond of blood between these new warriors. It was an intangible, that no Morgan could buy with energy and that no Peacekeeper could arrange with their silver tongues. Their instructors and series officers had expounded this since the first day of training. If you train together, than you fight together, and if you fight together you bleed together, and no man can ever forget a man he has shed blood with. This was the Spartan legacy that the Crucible passed down from generation to generation and was now imbued in this platoon of proud young Spartans.

    The two battalions formed up in the wide and open concourse next to the office of the Commanding General of the Training Center. A stage had been raised overnight for the commanding officer to give his speech to the latest graduates and proud parents sat in the bleachers overlooking the concourse as the new warriors marched in to the strains of martial music provided by the band. Their movements were crisp and clean, just as they had drilled for the past year. Every new warrior moved at precisely the same time the warrior next to him did, and in their black uniforms with their heads shaved to bare stubble above the determined eyes, it looked very much like a moving, breathing machine. Which in a way it was. The shouted commands from their sergeants and officers carried across the concourse to the crowd in the bleachers.

    “Battalion, halt.”
    “Battalion, right face.
    “Attention arms”

    The two battalions came to stiff attention. Row after row staring straight ahead and seemingly not moving at all. The commanding general, resplendent in his perfectly ironed dress black uniform complete with row after row of medals strode to the podium to address the latest graduates. His head had slightly more hair than the graduates, him wearing half an inch on top, while the graduates wore only the stubble that had grown since they had last shaved their heads. Now that they were moving on into their regiments, they would be allowed to grow their hair out to half an inch, but no more. He would have smiled at any other time, but this moment was serious, never to be taken lightly. He scanned the assembled ranks of graduated privates and lance corporals, standing perfectly still behind their series commanders and training sergeants. It was a sight that he saw very often, but it never failed to make him feel pride in being a Spartan and a military officer.

    “Spartans” he began, his voice booming through the sound amplifier. “Today is one of the proudest days of your life. At this moment I am sure that all of you know of what I’m talking about. You have spent an entire year away from your homes and your families, undergoing the toughest training on Planet. No one can match the level of training you have received here. Not the Peacekeepers, not the Believers, not the University, and certainly not the Hive. You are the best,” he said almost feeling the surge of pride that rippled through the assembled ranks.

    “But today marks the end of that training, and your real life begins as of this moment. Your are no longer children who need protection from the world. You are Spartan warriors, trained to fight and if necessary die for the very survival of your faction and humanity as a whole on this new world. Because as we all know, only the strong survive and to be strong you must be powerful. All of you are a part of the power of the Spartan Federation. You are the sharp end of the spear, the striking blow that will land upon whoever challenges Spartan supremacy.” The general was sure the ranks would have nodded, if they were not at attention. As it was he could see their eyes and the eyes of their officers and instructors. There was fierce determination in those eyes. Determination to get the job done, whatever the cost may be. Something that they would not shy away from.

    “All of you will be going to fight the Hive,” the general continued. “Many of you will not come home. But remember this, Spartan warriors die. That’s what we’re here for. But Sparta itself will live forever and that means that you too will live forever. You are going into battle against a tough and determined enemy. The Hive is tenacious and many in number. But you have better training to fall back on. Never forget your training, for it is time honored and cannot fail. Watch the man next to you, and the man next to you will watch you, and you still stand a greater chance of coming back alive. The Hive is arrogant and cocky, but in the end they will not be victorious, because they cannot match the level of espirit de corps that you have attained. Remain true to your training and to your followers, and do not fear death, because death finds us all in good time. Remember to not let your fellow warriors down and to not show fear to the enemy and you will prevail. Death before Dishonor.” As the assembled ranks roared the warrior’s creed back, the general stepped back from the podium as the whole of the two battalions saluted sharply. He returned the salute, which in effect dismissed the new warriors to the greetings of their proud parents.

    Although many of these young men would die in the upcoming battles against the Hive, there were many more young men training to become warriors who would ably take their place. As long as these young warriors did not disgrace themselves on the field of battle, and died valiantly, they would live forever as the general had told them, in the training and ethos that was imbued into every new Spartan warrior. It was the Spartan way.