Pain. It is a weird feeling. Ever notice when a part of your body goes numb you might either panic or not react? Try not reacting or better yet try hitting a punching bag until you can’t feel your knuckles, then your hands, and lastly your arms. Sucks don’t it. I’ve practiced that way since I was in high school. Trust me it’ll hurt but you won’t regret it. It comes in handy during a fight. They might think you’re winded, use that to your advantage. They get close you jab-
“Stop daydreaming old man.” A voice sounded from behind. Blood was forming around the man's knuckles and dripping from his lower lip. He took a moment to brush his brow with the back of his hand before adjusting himself. A boy, no, a trainee stood in front of him. Fresh out of school and raring to prove himself, whether he was trying to impress his peers or himself was the real question. Before the kid even opened his mouth sweat seemed to pour down his face like that of a raging stream. Either he didn’t mean what he was going to say or he was just exhausted. The man didn’t care about all this, he just knew he had to get through this. He had another two hours of this to go and beating up the new arrivals wasn’t exactly what you’d call a fun job.
“Yeah, wouldn’t want a rookie to take your title, would yah?” The snarky comment was spat at him through shaking teeth. With a shrug, the man readied himself for the second round.
Yet, all it took was one good punch to the stomach to knock the rookie down.
“Perhaps you’ll learn to dodge rather than run your mouth,” the man commented as his opponent held his stomach. “Session is over, go do whatever is left of your training for today. When you all come back I expect some fighters!” The rookies just stared at one another seemingly lost for words. With no response, the room grew silent as the trainees left. Besides the guards outside and the ref off in his part of the room, the man was by himself. He made his way to a corner of the room where his bag was. From it, he grabbed a bundle of cloth and a thermos. “Right, let’s see how the old boys are doing.” He unwrapped the bloody cloth from his hands and started to rub them. He let his senses go as he took a sip of water. Marching, shouting, gunfire, mmm gunpowder, a dab of fried food, and idle gossip. Was all the man could sense. With that, he settled back into his chair with a sigh of relief.
“Is that Cole, the famous pit fighter I just heard?”
“Skarny! For God's sake, this is a training barracks, why do you gotta scare me like that?” A man in white and orange armor stood in the entryway of the barracks. Quiet laughter filled the room as Skarny walked over. “Ah, yes, laugh it up to you nut case. You know how I feel about people trying to scare me.” Skarny held up his hands innocently, a small grin plastered on his face.
“Of course, it has been a while since we last spoke. Just thought I would drop by and see how you were doing.” Cole shook his head as he gestured to a seat next to him.
“I’ve been fine since our last get together. How are the others?”
“Just fine, Onyx is getting on well. A bit too well for my taste but well enough for the Chairman.”
“I don’t like the bond that two share. He treats the kid like he’s some machine…” After a few moments, he continued. “How’s Cormick been, rumor has it he’s become one of the best marksmen we have.”
“He is a good shot and a good man. He just has some petty rivalry with one of the other marksmen, Strasky I think his name was. Besides that, he doesn’t talk much. Now, my turn. How’s Kiara?”
“She and I, we’ve been a bit distant recently. It doesn’t help that I got pulled into this crap position over being out there with you and others. But, I imagine you have something else on your mind besides my love life?”
“You know I wouldn’t have come to you if it wasn’t important. It involves my little brother. I’ve told you about him a few times in the past.”
“You mean little J?” Cole couldn’t help but chuckle at the memory of the little guy.
“Yes I mean Jake, he plans on joining the marines. Since I know you’ve been training the recruits I was hoping that if you see him you could… you know.”
“See what he’s got? Sure, it’ll give me something to do with the kid anyway.”
“I don’t want him to have any special treatment or anything. Both him and I wouldn’t want that. I just know how he can be around strangers, plus he doesn’t have many friends. Kinda sounds like someone I know doesn’t it.” Skarny remarked with a wide smile. Cole’s hand thumped lightly against his friend’s armor.
“Oh hush it. I’ll reach out to him if I happen upon him but no guarantees. I’m not looking for an apprentice or anything.” A bustle of noise came from outside the barracks which was followed by the discipline of the guards keeping watch. Cole patted Skarny on the back as he walked him to the exit.
“You’ll come around, I mean you did it for Kiara and I. Who knows he might find you first.” And with that, the man in armor was gone.
Soon after Skarny had left a new batch of recruits had found their way to the training barracks and were ready for their first sparring match. “I take it you are ready for a fight?” A chorus of laughter and hollering echoed Cole’s words as he stared at them. So young, so eager, christ why does it have to be me? “Alright, everyone picks somebody they want to spar with and once you are ready, meet me in the back.” And with that, an eruption of voices filled the barracks. No, he’s mine! Oi Mason, you are with me. Alex over here!
After they got situated the ref came out of his quarters from the left side of the barracks. “Gonna be a clean fight, no hitting below the belt and no biting. Everything else goes. Now get in there you two. Got two rounds each three minutes long. If one remains on the floor till the count of three or one is knocked out, the match is over. Alright, you two ready?” The ref grabbed his whistle, both of the fighters nodded then Cole’s ears rang. Damn, I hate that thing.
Fight after fight blow after blow time seemed to drag on. Retiring to his spot in the corner Cole started to jot something down in his journal. The others were too focused on seeing who could give the other a black eye first to even notice him anyhow. Though one did look over at him seemingly uninterested at what was going on only throwing out stinging comments now and again. The rookie seemed to realize he was being watched and snapped back to the ongoing fight. Hmm, odd. Every one of those peppy spitfucks seems only interested in shedding blood. Perhaps there’s hope? Yet, his theory was tossed away when it was the lad’s turn. He was a decent looking kid. Dirty blond spiked hair with a look of hidden determination. Bit bigger than his peers but the same. His partner was a bit smaller than him but held a constant smile. “Last up we have Jacob Haines and Garrison Winslow.”Garrison Winslow. You know the rules, boys just don’t kill one another.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, poor boy wouldn’t forgive me if I did.” Garrison readied himself as the ref reached for his whistle.
“Watch it before I wipe that smirk off your face Gar,” Jacob replied, at the sound of the whistle Jacob popped his neck. A disturbing grin formed as the tension released from it. He was the first to attack starting with a wide swing followed by a lunge which Garrison side-stepped, taking a chance he went for a jab to Jacob’s side. Though it hit his ribs it barely staggered Jacob who whipped towards his opponent, he managed a hard punch to Garrison’s gut making him freeze briefly. Cole watched the fight with mild interest. So far this seemed to be just like the previous rounds ending with bruises and poor spirits. As the fight went on, Cole couldn’t help noticing the force Jacob had, he just lacked the agility and stamina to keep going. After a couple of minutes, the first round was over. Just from their breathing, Cole could tell they were tired. Yet, with a ring of the bell, it was back to beating on one another. Within moments Jacob was swaying, to win the brawl Garrison lunged for his opponent’s back. He managed to get a hold of Jacob who kneeled on one knee, seemingly desperate to be done with it. The ref started calling it when Jacob snorted in anger. “Not yet!” Came his voice. With a sudden burst of energy, he grasped Garrison’s feet, and with them held tightly he threw himself backward, landing hard on the floor. A groan escaped his opponent’s mouth as the ref made his way towards the two fighters.
“Alright, that’s enough Haines. Get off him.” and like that the spar was over. The pair were covered in bruises and blood, yet a smile remained on their faces. Some of the rookies from earlier were staring wide-eyed at the men. A fraction of Cole felt like this bunch might have had some promise. Though this was disproved of course since some of the rookies insulted the two brawlers making their shoulders sag. The interesting thing about the two was that they never said anything back. No jab or stinging retort like the man usually saw among the rookies. Rather than a blaze that gets blown out these two were similar to a slowly growing wildfire. “Hmmm, perhaps there is hope after all."
“Hey, that’s enough. I’m sure you lot are hungry so go find something to shove down your gullets,” The ref hollered at the men who chatted like starlings. Cole was filled with disappointment as he watched the cadets exit the barracks. He turned his gaze on the last two. “Don’t pay them any mind, they’re just jealous is all” he paused, took a sip of his water, then screwed the cap back on. “Most are down within the first thirty seconds. Some last till the end of the first round then call it. You among a select few lasted till the end. You impressed me which doesn’t happen often around here.” The next bit was more meant towards the big one. “You’ve got the force, but you need to build up your stamina. Maybe add a bit of style to your movement. What were your names again?”
“I’m Jacob Haines, most just call me Storm. And this is my best friend Garrison Winslow,”
“Just call me Red,” with a nod, Cole grabbed his duffle bag and pulled out two coins.
“Here,” he dropped one into their hands before patting Jake on the shoulder. He noticed the lad kept rubbing the eagle that was carved into the coin. “hold onto it. When you are energized, feel free to come back and practice. If I'm not on a mission I’ll be around here. You go on now, I’m sure you are hungry yourselves.” With a smile, both Jake and Red grabbed their stuff and headed for the exit. “Oh, and if the guards stop you just say Cole said you could be here.” Cole hollered before heading to where the ref’s quarters were. A grin plastered on his face.
“Mighty nice of you Cole, not many get your approval. This place is like your personal domain.” The ref joked. “But, what’s the occasion. The knuckleheads got real promise or something?” Cole gently rubbed his knuckles trying to get feeling back in them.
“ I don’t know Barry, something about him just seems…” He trailed off as his thoughts took over but Barry took no mind of it.
“Well, if he’s not special then who cares. Time for the next batch anyways.” With a last look at the entryway Cole couldn’t shake Jake’s appearance, he recalled what Skarny had asked of him before he had left. I promise I’ll watch over him, old friend.
Author Notes: This is a short story about Cole, a spartan 3 from the halo universe that trains a young marine who has the potential of becoming a spartan. That spartan is mine from more private pieces.