Part of Chapter 18. I really enjoyed writing this. Enjoy!

There were three courses that stood between the 001 and the buses. Course 1 began with a wall with 2 ropes dangling down the edge; 2 beams rose from the sides of the wall making a steeple that connected another thin wall across; a single rope dangled from the steeple and a mesh net lay between the two walls.

On the other side of the second wall were varying heights of wooden; some could be stood on other had to be gripped till the whole team reached the end where a bell sat. Courses 2 and 3 were buildings, both made of wood. 3 was larger and 2 resembled a tower with the only entry point being and opening on the second floor with a rope to climb just outside it.

Daryl smiled at the challenge. He hoped this woul be a moment where they could have fun… but of course the drill sergeants were there too…

“Privates,” began Drill Sergeant Brooks, “You will compete with your squads in each of these courses. The squad that wins gets Sunday off. The squads that lose have extra training on Sunday. I realize that most of you are still wobbly from last week’s events, but we need to soldier on. We are getting behind. 

“The first course you can all see from here. Drill Sergeant Deadman will be at the bell to shout out your time. Squad leaders will be responsible for keeping track of times. Squad leaders are: Easton, Hawkins, Lucas, and Warren. They will be giving you orders, so listen to them if you want to make it through. Any questions?

“All right, on the command of fall out meet over at Course 1. Fall Out!”

Everyone stepped out of formation and headed towards the first course. 

Parkinson smacked Lucas on the back. “You going to lead us to victory?”

Lucas smiled. “Someone has to.”

“So Kerns,” started Parkinson, “You’re not going to faint on the course, right? Wouldn’t want to have to carry you across.”

Daryl glared. “I hope you’re not implying that my fainting in the woods wasn’t inflicted by the stun gun.”

“Dude chill,” said Spencer. “That stun guns no joke, for sure. But are you able to handle these courses? That’s what I’m worried about. A day off would be good.”

“We just had a week off,” said Sharp. “I’m more inclined to finishing early than finishing late.”

“I think the better question,” said Posiedon, “Is are you all able to perform on this course? Most everyone had trouble adjusting.”

Daryl smiled. He almost forgot every ones bout with power sickness, as he was calling it.

“Out of everyone here,” continued Spencer, “I think we’re the most adjusted.”

“Then what are you worried about?” asked Daryl.

“Your scrawny arms,” said Parkinson. Spencer snickered.

Squad 1 stood ready at the ramp before the first wall of course one. Easton and Dykes stood in front, ready to grab the two ropes in front of them. 

“Privates! Get ready! Get set! Go!” said DS Deadman.

Easton and Dykes grabbed hold of their ropes and began the climb up the wall. Easton was fine, but Dykes phased through his rope half way up and fell to the ground. Easton stood at the top as Barnes and Dykes went up. This time, however, Dykes ripped the rope off and fell to the ground. 

Barnes made it up and then Clark and Baranski ascended. Baranski clawed her way up while Clark used the rope. Behind them, Chaisson helped Dykes up and then followed after Clark. The top was getting crowded, and they were running out of space for everyone to stand. Easton telepathically grabbed the dangling rope in the middle and handed it to Barnes.

“Come on, Dykes!” he shouted above, “Get up here!”

Dykes took a look at the dangling rope, taunting him. He grabbed it and started to ascend. Clark and Chaisson leaned down to pull him up the rest of the way. Once they pulled him up on the ledge, Easton tapped Barnes to swing across to the other side. 

He swung across and grabbed the support beam on the other side, then throwing the rope as hard as he could to the other side. Easton grabbed it with his mind and steadied it over. He handed it to Baranski. She swung across effortlessly, and so it continued with the rope swinging back and forth without much incident. Easton swung over last and tapped Barnes to begin the crossing of the wooden poles. 

He jumped from pull to pull followed by Baranski, who leapt like a cat to the finish. Easton rang the bell once they all crossed.

“10:01!” shouted DS Deadman. 

“We can do that easy,” said Spencer.

“No doubt,” said Parkinson. The two of them had come a long way since day one. Daryl remembered at the beginning they would have killed each other. Now all he had to do was prove he was in there league… He sighed. 

Gaines’s squad was next. They didn’t do as well as Daryl thought they would. Hawkins had a hard time leading; she seemed to be distracted by everything. And Fullenkamp was still having a problem keeping himself together. Like Dykes, he had a hard time getting up the wall… and across. 

“I’m sorry guys,” he said as he continually slipped through their fingers.

“It’s alright, man,” said Gaines, as he pulled him across the finish.

“15 minutes!” said DS Deadman. “Squad 1 is the team to beat.”

Lucas pulled Daryl to the front with him. “Hey,” he said, “Meet me up there. Put those guys to shame.”

He said it loud enough for Parkinson and Spencer to hear. “Alright,” said Daryl. He focused his mind on the end of the course, picturing ringing the bell… well, Lucas would ring the bell, but still, he would be there and they would beat Squad 1.


Daryl and Lucas scrambled up the wall. Easy enough. Daryl moved to the side so Spencer could climb up beside him. “Good job,” he said. Parkinson rolled his eyes at Daryl and then helped Poseidon get the rest of the way up. 

“How do we get that rope?” said Lucas, mostly to Parkinson.

“Lucas, we can jump that,” he said.

“Yeah,” said Lucas, smiling, “But I’d like to swing across.”

“Daryl could use his shadow form,” said Poseidon, “Or I could use water.”

Suddenly Sharp shot out his left fist. It gripped the rope, tethered by a strand of what looked like 550 cord. Everyone stared at him. “What?” he asked. “Turns out… I’m a cyborg… or something.”

He pulled the rope back and handed it to Lucas. “Go across, Kerns,” said Lucas handing the rope to Daryl. Daryl grabbed in and swung across. He forgot, however, to let go on the other side. Instead, he let go too late and lost his footing on the ledge.

“Oh shoot!” said Daryl.

He didn’t fall. He found himself supported by a layer of water. From Poseidon’s canteens came pillars of water that pushed Daryl back to the other side. He grabbed hold of the outer beam and shouted, “Thanks, Poseidon!”

“Why don’t you just make a bridge?” said Parkinson.

“Ted,” said Lucas, “I want to swing across.”

Poseidon’s streams of water went back into her canteens and Sharp grabbed the rope again. This time Spencer swung across. Then Poseidon. Then Parkinson. Then Lucas. And finally Sharp. 

Spencer sighed. “My time to shine,” he said. He jumped from pole to pole in an instant and stood at the bell, arms crossed. “You guys coming?”

Lucas and Parkinson jumped next. They weren’t as fast as Spencer, but they made it in record time. Sharp also made it without Incident. Daryl and Poseidon brought up the rear. 


“Best time,” said Spencer.

“No doubt,” Parkinson and Spencer exchanged high fives all around.

It felt good to be in the lead.