3653 BBY

Coruscant

Jedi Service Corps Training Grounds



�Private Geers!�

Even amidst the steady sound of firing rifles, Yusriyah�s voice cut through to the gaggle of trainees she�d received. Her tone was as it always was around her new recruits–firm and demanding. The following approach towards the young male was an inexorable march of an unimpressed commanding officer, a set of blazing brown eyes fixed on his frozen stature.

�Good! I want you to stay perfectly still, Geers.�

The young man must have been barely eighteen. Fresh-faced and from a recruitment office, no doubt. He had the stature of a boy who�d grown up in Coruscant�s seedy underbelly; gaunt and lithe with little definition, shuddering as though he could barely hold the weight of the weapon he held. A fine film of sweat had gathered at his forehead, his right eye staring down the sights of his rifle, the barrel parallel with the ground beneath his feet.

�See anything different between your stance and Keth�s?� Yusriyah barked, nodding her head towards the recruit to Geers� right.

Private Dex Geers� wide eyes wandered over to his future squadmate. Keth Hanew�s stance was faultless. Feet braced at shoulder width, one in front of the other. Knees slightly bent, and most importantly, rifle aimed at an upward angle.

�S-sir, he�s aiming upwards, sir,� came the answer from the quaking young man. Geers began to tilt his rifle to adjust accordingly when Yusriyah�s hand reached out, pushing his muzzle back down to line up parallel to the floor once more. 

�That�s precisely right, Geers. I noticed your finger was on the trigger, too. Do me a favor, Geers,� Yusriyah began, the private�s deer-in-headlights expression pointed towards his company�s major. The woman spoke up before he could answer, her timbre drastically changing to a low-pitched and calm demand. �Pull the trigger, Geers.�

�I don–�

Pull the trigger, Geers,� Yusriyah repeated, her nostrils flaring with animosity. She spat his name as though it were venom.

The stammering private did precisely as he was told. The underslung explosive-round launcher of his rifle fired with a low-pitched puff of air from the barrel, the propellant causing a brief flash at the muzzle. The round barely travelled five feet before meeting the ground, the weighted projectile exploding in a brilliant flash of color. Powdered colorant scattered over the ground, wafting over both the major�s and private�s boots, dusting them in a sickly coating of yellow-green.

Yusriyah let a pregnant pause fill the air of the firing range. Two of the more distant recruits snickered at the situation, and the major wasn�t inclined to stop them. �Private Geers. What do you think might have happened if that were a live round?� 

Dex waited a moment before he answered. �I would�ve injured myself, sir.� He coughed awkwardly. 

Yusriyah simply nodded and walked away. She stopped at a large supply crate, pulled out another round, and returned to Dex�s side. This new round was similar in size and shape, though its head was an ominous black rather than a bright plastic that matched the color of the dye. Reaching out to snap back the loading chamber of the barrel, Yusriyah pushed the new ammunition into place. Before letting go, she pushed his aim a considerable number of degrees upwards.

�That wasn�t a black dye round, Geers. Don�t blow your legs off. Hold it steady, line up that second click with the far back target. Breathe steady.�

The young man stopped shuddering almost instantly. He took in a deep breath, aimed his rifle high, and pulled the trigger. The familiar rush of air sounded at the muzzle. Yusriyah watched as the round soared through the air, arcing perfectly towards the furthest target in Geers� line.

For what seemed like the most fleeting of moments, a small smile crept onto her lips. 

The explosive struck the ground and detonated. The range shuddered, dust kicked into the air and the bright white glow of the range died suddenly. Sirens began to sound, and the room lit up with a bright red oscillating light. Before so much as a second passed, another resonating rumble could be felt through the floor of the range.

�Recruits!� Yusriyah bellowed.

Another. She could feel the growl of the detonation in her very core. That one was close. �On me! We�re falling back to–� 

The major�s order was cut short as the walls to the range shattered inwards, tossing the men and women inside across the floor as though they weighed nothing. Her vision blurred. She could see the temple through the gaping maw blasted in the range�s walls and the thick pillar of billowing smoke that rose from its side. Lying tangled in the rubble, Yusriyah slipped into the obscuring arms of unconsciousness, able to do naught but listen to the sickening drumbeat of distant explosions.

Author Zaanthe
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