It was yet another fine morning on planet Medix. Then again, ANY morning when you woke up with all of your parts intact, breathing, and otherwise not physically impaired, was a good morning. His home planet of Medix was famed for its lush forests and rolling, endless plains, covered with farm fields. Of course, the two suns, praise the God Emperor, bathed the planet with plentiful warmth, aiding its crops verdant growth, producing multiple yearly yields. Medix was a farm world, one of the small ones. The Imperium of Man valued such worlds and protected them well since they provided the much-needed foodstuffs for other Imperial planets.
Crux quickly rolled silently down from the two-story bunkbed and landed squarely on his feet. He was always top bunk. The guys who chose down bunk he took for lazy bums. Why would you not want to climb up and then jump down from your bed? Crux used every little bit of movement that he could to exercise his muscles and to strengthen his body. Yawning, the young man walked out of the half-full barracks and started his morning routine. Of course, the training grounds were empty - it was not even five in the morning, and all other recruits were sound asleep. The drill sergeants too.
Crux was a "volunteer", an Imperial Guard recruit in basic training. Running away from the boring farm he was supposed to be working, toiling the fields for the rest of his natural existence, he had snuck inside this training camp. The whole place was built like a fortress, really. Though seemingly impenetrable, Crux had quickly found a way to get in. The young man simply walked up to the front gate and introduced himself to the guardsmen on duty. Instead of devising clever ploys, or use stealth and guile, all he did was ask them to let him in. He claimed he was actually a recruit but was robbed of his stuff along the way. They laughed and told him to scram, but he insisted and one of the guardsmen tried to shove him away, so Crux broke his jaw. The rest of the soldiers quickly beat the living shit out him, one of them smacking Crux's head with his rifle butt.
An hour later, he woke up in a holding cell, picked himself up from the floor and looked around. Through the small plasglass widow in the door, Crux could see that the whole facility looked like a barn with reinforced walls and steel bars forming row after row of tiny cells. Crux was the only guy locked in here and, of course, he tried to force the lock to his cell. Despite the beating he received, Crux's body was still in a good shape. After hauling many tons of steel bars just like the ones that were used to construct his cell, Crux quickly identified where the weakest weld was. He'd done that too. His farm was out in the boonies and workers had to fix, build and maintain everything by themselves. From his experience, Crux gathered that to force open the flimsy "door" he'd need at least five to six hours of solid, uninterrupted kicking. Crux chose the moments he'd kick the lock well, timing them with bouts of rifle fire. The trainees were shooting volley after volley, unsuccessfully trying to hit their targets, and by the sound of it, they'd already pissed off the drill sergeants. Crux would even use the screams and insults they used to berate the recruits with to continuously bash at that lock, ultimately bending it open. Not surprisingly the guards heard nothing.
Close to the rear wall of the holding area, he found a case full of old, dirty uniforms. Quickly changing into the cleanest and perhaps the least damaged set of pants and shirt, Crux picked the furthest, deepest hole to stash his civvies in. Looking down he realized that the work boots he was wearing were not military issue and could potentially betray him. Desperate he continued looking around, trying to think where foremen and other low ranking workers would be hiding their stuff. Usually, those stashes were next to the support beams and soon enough Crux found one. And then he found another. And another... most were full of lho sticks, cheap booze, porn holopads, and stolen rations. Their contents were not what surprised Crux, but the sheer number of stashes. Many looked like they were in regular use, but many were old and forgotten, some looked ancient, even. In one of the old ones (because Crux wasn't that dumb as to ransack the new) he found some thrones in a rotten coin purse and a well-kempt pair of boots.
The training camp and barracks were huge. Spanning many miles, the whole fortress complex was built a thousand years ago. Or more. Crux didn't know, and frankly, he didn't care. Walking out of the rarely used, and somewhat concealed, back entrance each barn had in case of a fire or other such emergency, Crux quickly found the closest marching platoon. Slowly he matched his speed and joined the furthest line at the back of their marching formation. His plain looking, kiddish face, still devoid of any facial hair, green eyes, and brown hair concealed him well. Compared with the rest of the Imperial Guard recruits, he wasn't that tall either, Crux's height of 6ft was average. Really, he was average in all and everything except one thing - Crux was pigheaded as an Ork Rhinox. When he decided that he'd do something, he would try until he'd succeed - there was no stopping him. Every time one of the drill sergeants came close to check on his marching speed, or step, he'd moved deeper within the formation and in such a way that others, who were still tripping on their feet would arise the sergeants' ire. The rest of those recruits were so tired of marching under the suns, that most didn't even notice the newest addition to their platoon. He managed, luckily, to wing it that first day. Perhaps Crux was too lucky, or...
This was just another day for him to train a little bit more than the rest. After only three months of sneaky early morning training, Crux was not scared that they'd call him out of formation for not doing something correctly. He always did all the exercises like he was supposed to, ran through the training grounds with the appropriate speed. Of course, Crux was not stupid enough to beat the top scores. That would pull the sergeants' attention towards him, and he didn't want that. The sooner they started weapons training, the sooner he'd be away from this part of the fortress. They'd issue him new, fresh uniform and a dog tag. Since the physical training was tiring, his brothers and sisters by platoon were not in the friendliest of moods. That was fine for Crux because he could gather plenty of information about who was who and what was where. The unpredicted problem for Crux arose only because of his desperate try to fit in - he'd trained himself way too hard. By doing this, Crux was begging to annoy the hell out of his drill sergeants, because somehow this unassumingly looking young man managed to outpace everybody. They couldn't bitch about anything that he did either, for he performed well within the required by the training manual margin. Almost reaching the top score, yet never overachieving.
That beautiful morning Crux snuck out of his barracks and after his second run through the obstacle course he noticed that something wasn't right. There were others dressed in simple, rankless Imperial Guard fatigues, who also ran the course. The five men were mean looking, armed with thick wooden sticks, and they were gaining on him!
Source for all pictures used in this blog.
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Credit for proofreading and edits: @Fishman (The Fish Whisperer, Master of sneaking up on unsuspecting ducks and photographing them, Friend of Crows and Ravens)
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