So… long time no see right?
I’m fighting a losing battle with my computer so I’ll make this quick: I started writing this scene a little while ago, and like most things I’ve finally come back to it later. Also, this character Maggie was supposed to be an OC for the AU only, but now she’s getting added to the actual story because I love her so much!
Alright, on with the excerpt:
This morning was combat training. Fifty Ternov recruits in their last month ever before graduation from the training program all paired off and practicing advanced technique.
Well, some were. Actually, make that one. Margaret Ellery was currently focusing very hard on getting her attack just right, which didn’t bother anyone really, except for her training partner. Poor Davidson had to play the victim each and every time. At this point in the morning, he’d been thrown into the ground about forty times, and he was looking worse for the wear. Margaret had offered a few times to practice on someone else for a bit, but every time he hastily shook his head and tried his best to look chipper.
Meanwhile, the rest of the trainees were in basic chaos. To the untrained eye, it might have looked as if they were doing standard drills as they were told, but any ranking official would have taken one look and told you that it was complete bullshit in motion. Every move was sloppy, and more like horse play than combat. To be fair, the recruits had been in training for almost five years now, and they all seemed to feel they deserved a break. They did, of course, only have three weeks left until graduation.
Of course, this was not Maggie. She didn’t even notice the chaos around her as she focused her attention on hitting Davidson’s solar plexus just so. Finally, after the 41st throw into the mat, Maggie stopped ignoring Davidson’s fatigue.
“Really Davidson. Take a break. I’m sure Roberts will train with me for a bit.”
The recruit in question, Aubrey Roberts, glanced over from her mat where she was mock sparring (more like flirting) with a recruit named Stevens.
“I most certainly will not Maggie. Jesus, can’t you rest for five minutes? Davidson’s about to fall over.”
Davidson did indeed, at that moment, fall on his side while attempting to walk forward and protest. He then tried to voice his protestations from the floor between his gasps of air.
“No… no, I’m… fine… I pro- … -mise, five… minutes. Gonna… be… awesome.”
Aubrey scoffed, then turned her eyes to glare at Maggie. Maggie glanced back and forth between the two with an uncomfortable expression on her face.
“Yeah… uh, actually don’t worry about it Davidson, I’ll just do some solo training.” Maggie then shifted to the other side of the mat and starting practicing her attacks into the air. Davidson finally got the strength to stand again, and while doing so he gave Aubrey an icy glare. Of course Davidson’s version of an icy glare had no actual effect on anyone, except maybe Davidson when he looked in the mirror. Aubrey just raised her eyebrow and stared at Davidson until his expression thawed (this was practically instantaneous). With a simple assessment of, “You’re an idiot,” she turned and went back to rough horsing with Ellie Stevens.
Awkward incarnate, Davidson hovered at the corner of the mat watching Maggie running through her motions. After a moment of staring, he collected his thoughts and haphazardly tried to get in her eyesight without getting knocked out in the process.
“Hey! So, uh… Mags?”
Maggie stopped. She turned her head ever so slightly, to cast a look at Davidson. It was one of those looks that smart men fear to ever be set in the crosshairs of. Quickly, Davidson tried to smooth over his slip up.
“Sorry, sorry! Maggie. I said Maggie. Nobody heard different…”
Maggie continued glaring a moment longer, but then went back to her training; a sign that Davidson could continue.
“So… Maggie. We’ve been sparring partners for practically all our training, and it’s been pretty awesome. I, I mean… I’ve learned a lot working with you.”
Maggie gave Davidson a slightly puzzled look, something with the air of “why are you telling me the insanely obvious” before continuing her combo move and letting him continue.
“So… well, what I mean is… I just think we work well together. And I was thinking… well wondering maybe, if you think that maybe we… maybe we could-“
The voice of the recruitment leader suddenly rang out in the hall. Immediately all the recruits turned and stood at attention, finding where their officer was standing and facing her.
Sergeant Collins was standing in front of them with a stern look.
“Interesting training technique recruits.”
“Sir, yes sir.” Came the chorus of recruits back, albeit a little reluctantly.
The sergeant gave them the stare down once more, before a subtle shift around her eyes indicated her forgiveness. “Considering the short amount of time you have left with me, I don’t think I really want to spend days filing reports on all of you, which would only bring you back in my training group for another quarter. We wouldn’t want that.”
“Sir, no sir.”
“Well then, that’s that. Alright, the real reason I’m here: Recruit Ellery, where are you?”
Maggie startled, before calling out, “Here sir!”
Collins followed her voice. “Ellery. The General is here visiting the barracks, he’d like to see you in his office.”
Murmurs broke out amongst the recruits. Maggie turned to Davidson with a look of shock on her face. Davidson if anything looked more scared than she.
“Alright recruits, quiet down. Ellery, come along.”
Quickly Maggie strode through the group of recruits to follow Sergeant Collins out the hall. Right as the door shut behind her Maggie could hear the muffled roar of the recruits all wondering what Maggie had done.
The Sergeant glanced back at the door. “Not very subtle are they?”
Maggie shook her head, still at attention. “No sir.”
The Sergeant gave her a look. “At ease Recruit. No sense getting any more tense than necessary.”
Maggie let her body relax a bit. “Thank you sir.”
“No problem. Wouldn’t want you to bust a vein or anything.”
They walked down the hallways together, weaving through the lines of offices. Maggie had never been this far back in the office section of the barracks; there’d never been any reason.
Finally they reached a door at the end of the hall. Collins gave Maggie a little nod. “Here we are Recruit.”
Maggie returned the nod, “Thank you sir,” before knocking on the door three times.
“Enter,” came from inside.
Maggie took a deep breath, grasped the handle, and opened the door. She quickly walked in, shutting the door behind her. “Recruit Ellery, sir. You asked for me?”
The man sitting at the desk in front of her looked up. Maggie was surprised for a moment, because this is not how she expected the General to look. This man had a round, kind face, with wrinkles around the eyes and sandy colored hair. While he wasn’t standing, it was clear that he was of short stature, but still he seemed to hold himself as if he was seven feet tall. He was equally disarming and alarming. Maggie wasn’t quite sure what to expect of him.
The man smiled and suddenly Maggie felt herself being put at ease. “Hello Maggie. Please, take a seat.”
With a nod, Maggie placed herself on the chair in front of the desk.
The General watched her as she sat down, and stared at her a moment longer before continuing. “I’ve been reading your file here Miss Ellery. You’re quite the achiever.”
Maggie wasn’t sure yet where he was going with this. “Thank you sir.”
“The highest marks in your group I see, even set some records over previous recruits here. It really is extraordinary.”
“Thank you sir.”
“Please. There’s no need to call me sir Maggie, we’re just having a chat. Trust me, you aren’t in any trouble.”
Maggie was still uneasy for some reason, but she hid her discomfort with a smile. The General grinned back, showing all his teeth, before leaning a bit forward, elbows on the desk.
“Let me cut to the chase Maggie. You are the best recruit to ever come through Ternov training, and I’m on the hunt for the very best.”
Maggie was confused. “What do you mean s-“ the last word was cut off as she saw the General’s look, “what do you mean?”
“I mean that I’m building a Special Forces group: the best of the best, cream of the crop, that sort of thing. You’d get the best training, be able to hone every skill to perfection so you’re ready to go on our biggest missions. And of course, the pay is phenomenal.”
Maggie shrugged. “I’m not really too concerned with money, I already have everything I need here at the Academy.”
“Oh I know that, you’re just a wonderful civil servant, but trust me it is a nice benefit.”
“Understood.” Maggie could see the appeal of money in an abstract sense, but whenever she had a surplus of money she never knew how spend it. She figured that agreeing with the General was the best way to go at the moment.
If the General noticed her appeasement, he didn’t outwardly show it. Instead he moved on to a new topic. “I’d also like to talk to you about your entrance exam results.”
Maggie was surprised by that, “What about them? Was there something below par in the history section? I came from an outlying planet sir, I didn’t have the best education-“
“Relax Recruit, I’m not referring to the knowledge portion. I was noticing your brain scan results from your physical. Did anyone ever talk to you about them?”
Maggie shook her head, “No sir. What’s the problem with my brain?”
“Oh no problem, no problem at all. There was actually a high spike in your psychic quotient.”
Maggie paused at that, unsure if the General was pulling her leg now. “… I didn’t realize that was something a brain scan determined.”
“Well, not in such a black and white way, but if you know what you’re looking for…” the General paused to look at the file in front of him again, “Of course perhaps the sergeants here were unaware… No matter. The point is that you have potential Maggie. Potential being wasted here while you only train your body. If you join my task force, I can assure you that we’ll help you focus your mind as well. What do you think?”
She didn’t know what she was thinking at all. “Uh… this is a lot of information to process sir.”
The General looked at her for a moment, then nodded and rose from his chair. “Quite right.” He walked around his desk to sit on the front of it, close to Maggie. “Well, we can’t have you making speedy decisions can we? Why don’t you take the rest of the day to think about it, and you can let me know tomorrow what you’ve decided. I’m sure your officers will understand if you miss the rest of your training today.”
Maggie nodded hesitantly. She wasn’t quite sure but for some reason she’d felt as if she’d dodged a bullet. “Of course. I’ll go take some time. Thank you sir.”
“Just thank you, remember?” The General grinned while he made the remark. He held out his hand. “And you’re welcome.”
Maggie smiled in response. She rose and reached out to shake the man’s hand.
The initial grasp was a shock, literally. Upon contact with his hand she felt an almost electric surge, and gasped involuntarily. It was followed by an immediate sense of dread: a combination of hate, malice, and something far more sinister that was creating a pit in her stomach. She was crazy to think it, but it almost seemed to radiate from the General’s hand…
Looking up, she knew she hadn’t kept up a poker face. The General was peering at her with an intense look of inspection, as if he was picking apart her brain. This time when he smiled it was anything but warm, and it was then she realized that his smiles never quite reached his eyes.
And like that, the contact broke. Maggie didn’t trust herself to speak. She simply nodded, and walked out of the room as quickly as she could without seeming frantic.
Her legs moved of their own accord while her brain tried to process what had just happened. Between the job offer, the idea of psychic abilities, and the moment with the handshake, Maggie didn’t know how to make sense of it.
Considering what had happened with the handshake, Maggie was forced to concede that perhaps psychic abilities were not beyond the realm of reality. What did that say about the General though? What was he to have caused that effect? Was it something everyone felt around him, or something that you could only feel if you were “special”? Was he still offering her a job, or was that just a pretense to talk to her about her psychic abilities?
In the midst of these questions Maggie realized that she was walking towards her room. When she got there her body seemed to move on autopilot. She grabbed a knapsack and packed it with the essentials: basic civilian clothes, her personal revolver and ammo, the few mementos from home that she’d brought with her to training, and a postcard of an old ship covered in scribbled handwriting. She made sure not to pack too much, otherwise her intentions would be clear. After she was packed, she changed into civilian clothes and sat down on her bed, taking a moment.
She was lucky that she had a room to herself, or perhaps that had been intentional: her promotion to a single was a recent thing.
The sun was fading through her window, and she could hear a crowd of footsteps moving down the hallway towards the cafeteria for dinner. A few minutes later there was a knock on her door.
Maggie felt her blood chill. Slowly, she rose and walked to the door, her body tensed and ready to defend. She opened the door.
And it was Davidson.
She let out a breath, and the tension with it. “Yes Davidson?”
“So what happened with the General? You never came back to training.”
Maggie gestured for Davidson to come in so she could shut the door. He went to sit at her desk while she stood in the middle of the room, debating with herself on what to say. “Well… he actually offered me a job?”
Davidson practically fell out of his chair. “Really?! That’s great Mags! So you took it? Are you leaving training early?”
“Ummm…” Maggie didn’t even notice the nickname, that’s how off her game she was, “I told him I’d think about it.”
“What? Maggie, what are you doing? Recruits never get offered special jobs, it’s an honor. I mean, its obvious why he offered it to you: you’ve broken so many records they now have your picture up on the awards wall over the phrase ‘Don’t Even Try’. You would be perfect for it!”
She let the words wash over her, still in a bit of a haze from earlier.
“Maggie… Mags?” Suddenly Davidson was standing in front of her, hands on her shoulders. “What’s wrong?”
Maggie shook herself out of her head and Davidson’s grip, walking over to the other side of the room. “Nothing, nothing. Sorry, I just… I’m fine. Trust me, it’s nothing.”
“It’s not nothing. You just let me call you Mags twice now without any threat of dismemberment. Something is definitely wrong.”
Maggie steeled herself, putting on her best game face before turning around. “It’s nothing Topher, I promise. I think I’m just a little overwhelmed with this job offer.”
She knew using his first name had done the trick, because he smiled a bit walked over to face her. “Well you deserve it.” He shuffled on his feet for a moment, seemingly hesitant about something. After a moment he awkwardly reached around and gave Maggie a little hug.
When he pulled away Maggie was looking at him, eyebrow raised. He cleared his throat, “Right. Well uh… I’ll just go to dinner then?” His voice cracked on the last word, much to his horror, and that was all it took to scare him out the door.
Maggie let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. After a last check on what she had packed, Maggie laid down on her bed for a brief nap. She had a feeling she was going to need it.
It was about two in the morning when soft footsteps arrived outside her door. Two figures silently let themselves in the room, shutting the door behind them. They quickly walked towards the figure lying on the bed.
It was right around the moment they realized they were looking at pillows that Maggie attacked.
The first man was knocked unconscious and the second went down in a sleeper hold. Maggie slowly lowered him to the ground, then inspected their uniforms, noting their special force symbol on the right shoulder.
Well, that answers that question.
She made quick work of gagging and tying up the men, making sure they wouldn’t advertise her disappearance too early. It only took her a moment longer to grab her bag and head out the door.
Three weeks later found Maggie on an outlying planet, wandering through the docks. She held a battered post card in her hand as she walked, looking up at the ships. Finally she spotted a clunky little Platypus ship on the edge of the docks, and even at this distance she could make out the word “Oakwood” on the hull. She allowed herself a small smile as she pushed her way through the crowd.
Time to go home.