Soli Deo gloria
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Divergent. This idea just sort of . . . came to me, and I have next to no military knowledge AT ALL, so please bear with me with this AU. Thank you!
~ Tris Prior's POV ~
I feel a hand on my shoulder, pushing me. I groan and try to ignore it, but I hear Christina's voice say insistently, "Tris, c'mon!"
I groan again, open my eyes and sit up, knowing that I have to get up. The military runs on a strict schedule that doesn't like to be disturbed. All the free time they give us when we're not in training I take to nap, though only really Christina notices. Which is a good thing. I'd rather not have people thinking that all I do is sleep.
Even so, I highly doubt finishing up dinner counts as free time.
Christina, her hair cut down to just below her ear, smirks. "Nice to see you're awake."
"What time is it?" I say, pushing my blonde hair, which is the same length as Christina's, out of my face.
She checks her watch. "5:25. We better get moving if we're going to get to mail call."
I nod, wincing, my sore muscles protesting as I stand up straight. All the push-ups, sit-ups and pugil sticks have added up. Today we had to go through a gas chamber where we were masked up until the last couple dozen seconds. I had had to say my name and the Pledge of Allegiance to Sergeant Max Killian, who yelled in my face again. I could practically feel the smirks of some of the other recruits (namely three named Drew, Molly and Peter) when I could barely make out the last few words. Christina could only give me a slightly concerned look in front of them.
It doesn't do to appear weak in front of the military.
Christina and I are battle buddies. We literally go everywhere together. We've made a couple of friends at the mess hall. Al and Will, battle buddies. We ignore calling them Soldier Albert Capton and Soldier William Drockery because they're not soldiers to us. They're Al and Will. And it's nice having friends.
We head to the main hall where we see some of the drill sergeants lined up. There's a sharp faced one with dark hair named Lauren, a guy with really black hair and piercings named Eric, and then Sergeant Tobias Eaton, with dark hair and a long nose. He watches me as I line up with the other recruits.
Eric steps up and says, "Soldiers, mail call for today." He walks down the line and sharply hands out mail to those who get it. He hands Christina a letter, making her face light up and she quickly hides it. He then turns to me and stops. I can see the holes in his lips up close. They're wide. He could easily spin the rings in his lips around.
"Prior," he says. His voice sounds quiet, and for the first time ever, I don't wince because of his loud voice. I do wince, though, out of habit of being near him. I shouldn't, though. I shouldn't let him intimidate me.
I don't speak. He hasn't given me permission to.
"You're going to be talking with Sergeant Eaton this evening," he says. He has a subtle smirk on his face as he goes down the line, telling random others they're going to have their own private talking session.
My heart thumps in my ears. I look up from the ground to Sergeant Eaton, who's looking out the window. There's not much to see out there. He must be bored. He almost always does, standing in the back, assisting Eric only when he wants to.
He's got the darkest blue eyes I've ever seen.
We're given permission to leave. Christina squeezes my shoulder slowly as she heads off to our room. I'm excited for her with her letter, but I'm more worried about talking with Sergeant Eaton. He can be perceived as intimidating. I try not to let him scare me. Still, sweat collects in my palms.
Finally, only myself and the other few that were asked to stay back are left. The drill sergeants each take to their charge. Al, always nervous, is held back, and Lauren leads him away.
Sergeant Eaton comes up to me, his footsteps hard and quick against the white tile. I quickly raise a hand to my forehead in a salute. He says, "Soldier Prior. At ease. Come along."
I drop my hand and manage a nod and follow him to one of the long tables here in the main hall. I take a seat on the bench, wiping my hands on my khaki pants. I look around as Sergeant Eaton takes his seat. This main hall is large, with long tables and benches. Like a cafeteria. It's relatively small, but since there's not too many people here in this city taking basic training, it doesn't need to be big.
"Soldier Prior." His voice demands my attention, and I turn to face him. His fingers, long and thin, clasp loosely together in front of him. "We did obstacle courses today. You were slow."
There's no need to remind me. We had ropes to climb and ropes to climb under and weights to carry and drag and running. I had fallen into the mud, and Eric had yelled at me to get up. Christina had finished up ahead of me, and this happened just before lunch. Before I was submitted to the gas chambers.
"Permission to speak, sir?" I say.
He waits a second, his eyes scanning my face, and then, "Granted."
"I know, sir, that I was slow," I say.
"Then why were you?" he says stoically. He still expects me to do the same amount of work and have the same kind of progress as everyone else here in this small fort. I straighten. He doesn't underestimate me. That's for sure.
"I was tired." He scoffs. "I was, sir."
"You don't use your energy skillfully," he says. "You take too much time concentrating on your breathing. Slowing your heartbeat would be a key thing in getting over a fear. I'm not here to eradicate fears, Soldier Prior. I'm here to train soldiers and get you through the initiation process to be a soldier to protect the city." He straightens, his thin lips in a thin line. "Focus on the task at hand, Soldier Prior, and the breathing will come easily."
I take in a breath and stare back at him, our eyes meeting. The darkest blue.
He continues. "You've got a thin frame, albeit, so you should use your elbows and legs to your advantage."
I nod, and dare to say, "All right, sir."
"Soldier Prior," he says warningly.
I nod and he says in a quieter voice, "You've got a brain, Soldier Prior. While the military uses a lot of strength, they like brains, too. Most brains, anyway." His eyes flicker from the top of my head to my eyes, and says, his voice even lower, "Use it to your advantage."
He stands up, making me do the same. He nods and says, "Head to the barracks, Soldier Prior."
I quickly salute him, saying, "Sir, yes, sir!" and stiffly walk away from him, his words fading in the back of my mind.
I drop my stiff act in the hallway and run down the rest of the empty halls to the barracks. With us being such a small fort here in Chicago, boys and girls bunk in the same room, though boys stay on one side and the girls on the other. It's a narrow, rectangular room, with bunk beds extending perpendicular from the two long walls, leaving a narrow hallway between them for walking.
"Tris!" I hear, and I turn to see Will. He's got buzzed blonde hair and a tall frame that's nearly falling out of his bunk. He sleeps on the top while Al gets the bottom.
"Hey," I say.
"You get called back?" he asks.
I gulp and nod.
"What for?" He flips over onto his stomach, and sticks his head in his folded arms. "You not yell 'sir' loudly enough?"
"No," I say. I take a breath. "Sergeant Eaton wanted to talk to me about me on the obstacle course today."
"What did he say?"
I don't want to tell Will about how I have to always slow down just to catch my breath. I don't want to look like a weak link, even to a friend. I merely say, "I need to be faster and use my elbows to my advantage."
"Might as well listen to him, huh?" Will says, and he reaches out and ruffles my short blonde hair.
I force his hand away, and I know I'm not hurting him when he smirks at me. "Stop it!"
"What? If anyone's worried about their hair getting messed up, it's Christina," Will says, looking beyond me to where Christina is sitting on her bunk of our bed. She gets the top while I get the bottom. She looks, concentrated, at the letter in her hand, but at the sound of Will's voice, looks up with a smirk.
"Yeah, so don't you try ruining it, 'kay, Will?" she says teasingly.
"I'll see what I can do," he says, and I walk out from under his hand and head to my bed. The bed, strictly folded, has grey sheets on it and a white pillow. It reminds me of my own home, where my parents and my brother and I would make our beds perfectly every day after breakfast, right on schedule. Everything we did was to a schedule. That's why, I guess, I'm almost used to things around here. New things to form into a schedule, but something I was accustomed to.
I look from my bed to Christina and say, "Who's it from?"
"My mom and sister," Christina says. She shows me a crayon picture that somehow made it past the military's tough scanning and says, grinning, "She's eight. She did that; she could be better, though."
That's Christina. She's the bluntest, most honest person I've ever met. I value honesty, though sometimes her honesty can hurt like a smack to the head.
"Did Four really want to see you to talk about you on the obstacle course?" she asks. She puts down the letter and says, teasingly, "Or was there something else?"
I scowl at her teasing tone and say, "Just the obstacle course, Christina." I add, "His name is Tobias."
"Oh, his friends are always calling him Four. Don't know why, though," Christina says. She looks at me for a moment and then says, "You're a horrible liar. There was other stuff you two talked about. Details!"
I laugh and shake my bead. "How about NO details?" I say, taking a seat on my thin bed.
Christina bends over the bunk so that her head is within inches of mine, her shiny black hair falling all over the place. "Why not?" A second passes, "He's hot, you know."
"HOT?" I say, almost incredulously. My face turns pink as I shake my head, making Christina laugh.
"C'mon. He's got to be at least two years older than us. He's got great hair, a great face. A great EVERYTHING. You HAVE to like him," Christina says.
I shake my head again and throw my pillow at her, smacking her in the head, and she pops back into her bunk. Sure, he looks nice, but from what I've experienced from the past few weeks, especially here in Phase 2, he doesn't like me. He's been watching me, and always throws me these stern looks whenever I do something wrong. He doesn't yell at me, though, like Eric does.
I sigh and grabbing my pillow, hold it to me between my drawn up knees and torso. I'm wearing my green T-shirt with khaki pants. Standard army wear. I managed to change before dinner. I probably should take a shower during free time tonight.
Lights go off at nine o'clock, and we've got free time since my interrogation session was short. Will and Al joke and run to the showers. Christina runs after them to make sure she has clean hair. She likes wearing makeup, but since we sweat everyday, she doesn't get to wear it. The thing she wants is at least some clean hair.
I lean down, letting go of my pillow, and grab one of my personal belongings they allow you to keep out from next to my bed. Three letters and a picture. Two of the letters are from my mother. Both say how much she misses me, and she hopes I'm happy with my decision.
The other is from my brother. It's short, and tells more of what he's been doing at the university than it has any sentiment. My father hasn't sent me a letter or even signed the ones Mom sent me. He didn't approve of me leaving our small life to join the dauntless military.
I flip the picture. It's of all of us. We barely have any photos of us, especially together. I hope my mother sent me a copy so she has one to keep. It's the four of us in front of our small, grey house. We're smiling. My father rarely smiles. My mother has a beautiful, light smile. Caleb, my brother, is wearing glasses. It's a recent one. He started wearing glasses because it made him look smart. He has perfect vision.
I look it over. I wonder what our life would have been if Caleb and I hadn't made such quick decisions to leave home. We were as tight a family as we could be, and my dad wasn't too pleased.
"Looking a little stiff there, pipsqueak," I hear, and I look up to see Peter with his posse, Drew and Molly. All three are bigger than Will and all kind of ugly. Except Peter. He'd be handsome if he didn't have that glowering, arrogant smirk on his face. His personality ruins his appearance. "Had a tough time on the obstacle course?"
"Getting used to it, Peter," I say quickly.
"We've been doing them for a week," Drew says. "That's enough time, isn't it?"
"Wouldn't count on it. Not for her," Peter says.
"Oh, look," Molly says, and she quickly steps forward and makes a swipe for my picture. "Stiff's looking a little homesick."
"Go away," I say, moving the picture behind my back.
Molly straightens and Peter says, "That's a good name for you. Stiff. It works."
"What are you doing now, Pete?" I hear, and behind Peter comes a taller woman. It's Lynn, the girl who has the bunk bed with a girl named Marlene next to Christina and me. She went and buzzed her head before she came to training, and she's just gotten out of the shower, her face still wet with water. She cocks her head and says, "Make you feel manly and mature to pick fights with other recruits?"
Peter glares at her, and Lynn says, her voice no longer joking but deathly annoyed, "Get."
Peter walks off with Drew, the two making snarky, angry remarks to each other, and Lynn stares down the shorter, plumper Molly, who finally stands off and takes to her room on the other side of the room.
Lynn isn't someone you say 'thank you' to. She doesn't like it, so I just give her a nod of thanks and she gives me a nod back. She turns to her bunk bed and in one quick movement, lands herself on the top of the bunk.
Christina and Marlene come back from the showers, changed into tan pants and white T-shirts and both with wet hair. Christina sits next to me and says, "Were those idiots over here?"
"Again," I say.
Marlene takes her seat and says, wringing her hair out, "Ignore them. They think they're impressive when they do that."
"They want to make themselves act like the drill sergeants, obviously," Lynn says from above. She scowls. "They're acting more like schoolyard, annoying bullies than anything."
"Real mature," Christina adds, making me smile. "Oh, look, she smiles!" She gasps. "This is a miracle."
"Stop it," I say to Christina. She just grins and falls back on my bed.
We spend the next couple of hours talking random stuff in our free time. I go and change into my tan pants and white T-shirt to sleep in. Christina tries to get the boys to come in, but Will's off reading some book about maps and Al just sits quietly in his bed, his arms folded, a distant look on his face. He's been doing pretty badly on the obstacle courses. Almost as bad as me.
"It's getting late," Marlene says after a while.
"So? We can still talk until someone comes shouting for us to shut up," Lynn points out.
"True," Marlene says.
"You know what I heard we're doing tomorrow?" Uriah, one of the recruits who's close with Marlene and Lynn, says. "We're going to be taught how to handle and take care of carbine guns."
I've never fired a gun. Not even a water pistol. My parents and Caleb thought they were dangerous and mean. I don't know how well I'll do.
"Sounds awesome," Marlene says.
A loud voice rings through the barracks. Christina and I stretch our necks to see Eric, hands on his hips, yelling, "Soldiers, to bed! We're getting up at four-thirty tomorrow. Get to bed!"
I hear a noise, and behind Eric I see Zeke, one of the sergeants and Uriah's brother, blowing a horn. Next to him is Sergeant Eaton, Tobias. He leans against the doorway, his eyes sweeping the entirety of the room. They fall on me and I stare back.
Christina gets off and hurries into her bed. The lights go off. I can't see Tobias anymore.
I lay on my bed, hugging my pillow to myself, and hope that I can fall asleep. With us working on guns tomorrow, I can use all the help I can get.
Thanks for reading! Now, I'm regarding this as a sort of special fort in the Divergent world that isn't quite like our own military, but like a futuristic one. God bless you!