For the first three weeks of naval training they had primarily been in class rooms.
There was physical training each morning, followed by classroom training on ranks and protocols and anything else they might need to know about how the military worked.
They had a small amount of weapons training, but it mostly consisted of learning the ins and outs of their Saber Mark III rifles. The rifle was standard issue for all navy soldiers.
For the fourth and fifth weeks they had gotten into melee combat training, more advanced targeting with their rifles, ship operations, and a few small mock skirmishes.
It was now week six, and Ven felt her adrenaline begin to pump as the boat beneath her skipped across the water.
She and five other cadets were on a twenty foot high speed gunboat racing across the ocean.
In most of her childhood she had been on land, or underwater, but ever since the first time she stood on a ship cutting through the waves she fell in love with being on the surface of the sea.
The deck below her bounced lightly with each wave they cut through, and the wind whipped through her hair,
pulling it behind her as she gazed forward through binoculars from the bow of the ship. The seas were as calm as they got, and the sky was blue.
Ven thought to herself about what a beautiful day it was as she scanned the horizon. There, just at the edge of her vision, she saw what they were looking for.
“Ship, two o’clock!” She shouted it to the crew behind her.
“Confirmed,” the “first mate” for this exercise, Colton was his name.
He dropped his binoculars, revealing his brown eyes while his brown curled, and shortly cut hair tried its best to blow in the wind.
At six foot four he was slightly taller than the “captain,” who stood beside him. Ven continued to scan the horizon, occasionally returning to keep an eye on the ship while Metrin, spoke up.
“Changing course. Everyone on your toes.” Ven’s legs moved to keep her balance as the boat made the small adjustment to their new heading.
Their training mission had gone bust. Initially their ship and another vessel had been tasked to find and respond to an sos. The ships themselves were relics with virtually no electronics.
They carried no armaments other than the soldiers standard issue rifles, and were not set up to withstand combat.
The old ships were meant to teach them how to survive if everything else should go wrong. Their sister ship had reported finding the ship but had then gone silent.
For the last ten minutes they’d been headed to its last known location.
They were too far to see if the boat on the horizon was theirs or the S.O.S. Ven looked more and more, hoping to determine which it was, but until they got closer they had to wait.
Metrin had been trying the radio, but no one had been responding. If the ship had one or wanted to talk, it would have responded before Ven could have spotted it.
Five minutes had gone by and no one had said a thing, there was just the steady thump thump of the waves and the sound of wind whipping by.
At last Ven could see the ship better, but it wasn’t theirs. She shouted to notify Metrin and Colton.
Metrin held the wheel while Colton and the other two crew members, each on the side of their ship, reached for their rifles.
Standard protocol was to assume any unknown vessel was hostile, but not to initiate hostilities until confirmed.
The ship had no one on board and it made no movements as they approached it. It was unlike any vessel that Ven had ever seen.
With a sleek black profile, it was nearly seventy feet long, and almost entirely submerged. All that sat above the surface was a wide flat deck with a small railing around it.
Looking into the water, it appeared that the ship was nearly ten to twenty feet longer at it’s longest point, which was roughly ten feet below the water surface.
It was wide too, nearly twenty feet across.
Ven yelled as she saw it, but they were too close to do anything. The slim black shape of a torpedo bolted from the strange ship and hit the broadside of theirs.
Their ship lurched and shifted to one side as watered sprayed up from where the explosion had been.
“Abandon ship” Metrin yelled as he and Colton bolted to the back of the ship where a single life raft lay. Colton ripped the emergency cord and the raft rapidly began to inflate to size.
In a seamless motion he grabbed the side of the still inflating raft and hurled it over the side of the ship,
not waiting to see if anyone else was with him he jumped off the side of the vessel as well.
Metrin and one of the others were behind him in seconds and by the time Ven and the last man, Kerrel was his name, looked over the side the other three were already taking up the whole raft.
Ven stared in bewilderment. There wasn’t enough room. Kerrel hadn’t paused like Ven, and in seconds he was in the sea, fighting with the others to get on the raft.
There was no point in trying with that thing. Ven thought to herself as she turned around.
The other ship still sat next to them, though it still didn’t move and there was no sign of any other torpedoes. It was as though it was simply waiting to confirm the kill.
The boat she was on was sinking faster, and Ven didn’t think it had more than a minute, maybe two. Looking around her she saw no other options.
So she grabbed her rifle off the deck, and slung it over her back before running to dive into the water herself. But she didn’t go off the side to fight over the raft.
Instead, she jumped off the opposite side, and disappeared beneath the water for several seconds before reemerging next to the strange ship.
Hair wet and slicked back against her scalp, she grabbed the lowest part of the railing, and pulled herself on deck.