“This is going to be harder than I thought,” Clark soliloquized, as he walked through the jungle looking for a place to wash the blood off his body and clothes. He found a stream nearby, he subconsciously looked around searching for any threat, having found none he quickly rushed to wash himself up.

“These four days remaining are surely going to be a pain in the ass,” he thought with resignation.

           He suddenly looked to the right, and to his surprise found a mango tree. His eyes brightened immediately, “thank God, at last something better to eat”. He brought out one of his daggers and conveniently climbed the tree with it, while still being alert.

“My life is far more valuable than a mango tree, I can’t let my guard down because of food. That’s the behavior of fools and plants like Leo.” As he thought, he suddenly recalled that Leo was probably in this kind of situation also, making his expression dull.

“I hope you can scale through this bro; you don’t have my permission to die yet so you better survive,” he muttered under his breath.

           After climbing, he conveniently enjoyed the mango fruits as he rested on a branch of the huge mango tree. He checked his injury, the one from the augmented cat.

It was almost healed; “augmentation is really good man; I don’t even feel pain again.” The rest of the day went uneventfully, as he stuffed himself full of meat and fruits. He decided to camp here, as it was the most convenient place that he found so far in the jungle.

“Mango tree, it’s like we are fated. Let’s have a symbiotic relationship then, you provide food while the great General Clark protects you from jungle thieves.” He shamelessly blurted out a bunch of nonsense to a tree without sentience, just to justify his decision and conscience to stay there.

Screw experience, when his spirit led him to such a comfortable place. “It seems you fed the world in your other life, to get the chance and luck to encounter me and draw my attention”. He soliloquized.

He suddenly started feeling sleepy, as his belly was already a little bloated from the fruit he ate. “It’s evening already, I guess I should rest,” and that’s what he did.

           Upon waking up the next day, he decided to train around the vicinity of the mango tree. He proactively went to train, massacring the unlucky nearby creatures as a form of practice targets for his training.

He met a few situations where he brushed teeth with death, but his increasing battle experience helped him scale through. He did this as a routine, for the next three days.

           He woke up the last day feeling revitalized and fresh, the only setback was his smelling body, as he refused to remove his military uniform to have a proper bath during the last few days.

“You never knew what lurked in the depths of the stream, or when an augmented beast will suddenly cross your way”, he reasoned. “At least, this part of the training is over,” he comforted himself.

“I survived, that’s the best outcome. Who cares about body odor? That’s girls’ problems, I’m a man”.

He sat down at the foot of the tree waiting. He was not anxious because he knew that the military placed a GPS [i.e Global Positioning System] tracker, on every military cadet during their implant operation.

           Whirr!!Whirr!! He looked up due to the sound, as the familiar helicopter drew nearer, it stopped in a slightly opened space. He stood up and went closer, he immediately saluted on seeing the Sergeant.

“Good morning sir,” he greeted.

“Good morning cadet, climb in.” The sergeant didn’t waste any time with words, as he invited him in. He didn’t hesitate either, immediately going in.

The helicopter took off to base, he silently heaved a sigh of relief as his 1st phase training was officially over.

After entering the helicopter, he looked around searching for his friend. He finally saw him at the corner, smiling at him. Leo nodded at him with a smile, he smiled and returned the nod.

He exhaled again in relief, as he suddenly felt a burden leaving his heart. “Thank God we both survived,” he muttered under his breath.

To his surprise, he later found out that all ten in his batch survived. “This is simply miraculous,” he thought in surprise, as not everybody was as exceptional as him and Leo. Praising oneself is kind of shameless, but who cares when it’s the truth.

           On reaching the military base, the first thing he did as they stood in a line was a search for someone. He saw him at the forefront of the line. Anderson, being exceptional as ever looked more mature than five days ago.

“I will be the best cadet for this batch,” he silently encouraged himself. This was one of his silent dreams, that he didn’t even dare tell his friend.

Captain Spoky broke him from his thoughts, with his familiar but unusually loud voice.

“CADETS,” he boomed; “I am glad to see that 280 cadets from the original 300 survived”.

“That’s a good result. I am happy, so today is a free resting day for you all.” He smiled, which didn’t help in lightening the mood, as it made him look even more ferocious and ugly.

But nobody dared to tell him the truth, he is the captain after all. “I guess only his future wife, will probably have the guts to tell him,” Clark thought mischievously.

He silently exhaled for the 3rd time in relief, as they would have been forced to do the day’s drill if they had performed poorly.

“Rest and prepare yourself today, cause your suffering continue tomorrow,” the Captain said with a grin. “The government provided all of you with 500 Spartan credits. Take it, buy some beer, eat some meat and enjoy yourself,” he continued.

“Dismissed”. They saluted and left orderly.

           Clark grouped with Leo as they left, “Leo I can’t believe the government gave us 500 credits, that’s awesome. Let’s add it to our savings to get more money for our gear, after becoming soldiers.” he muttered excitedly.

“Yeah Clark, I’ll give you mine. Keep it, let’s eat the normal food” Leo replied.

“Clark, how was it?” Leo suddenly asked. “The jungle hustle, you know what I mean,” he clarified.

“Ah Leo, that? You know me, I bulldozed my way through it killing tons of animals, I even killed a dinosaur. The training was too simple man, it was not even enough for me to stretch my muscles.” Clark answered with a straight face.

           “Yes, I know Clark. I know the dinosaur you mean is your grandpa, right? You brutalized him.” Leo replied, also keeping a straight face.

           “F**k off Leo,” Clark said, as he bunked his friend’s head.

[Thank you for reading this chapter, I really appreciate.]

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