9th Trial, Cylus, Arc 718
Outer Perimeter, Southeast Civilian Housing
Outer Perimeter, Southeast Civilian Housing
It was hard for him to sleep past the seventh toll of the bells. Three arcs of his life, almost every day had begun with boots kicking down doors, batons hammering on bed posts, and roaring, cursing voices rousing all the shit-spawned cadets to action. They'd barely got their eyes open and boots on before they were corralled out into the cold, running, stretching, lifting, training. The first two or three seasons were the worst, but eventually one's body was battered into submission. The routine became just that: routine. Ordinary. Accepted. Anticipated by the mind before the first steel-shod boot smashed into the first door.
Kasoria's eyes snapped open a few bits after the six break, and that was it. He was awake, perpetual darkness or not. No point rolling over and trying to sleep some more, even though the bandaged gashes on his arm and leg silently pleaded for it. He lay there for a few bits, collecting his thoughts, letting the wispy fragments of the Dreamworld drift off his mind like dew from the grass... and then he tossed the covers off.
No skips. No excuses.
Another mantra of the Cadet Academy, and one he'd found applicable to every man one's body was his livelihood. A man could mold himself into a peerless specimen, but those seasons and arcs of effort meant nothing if he couldn't maintain it. That required patience, repetition, and exertion. The killer grunted as he got up out of bed, bad leg creaking as he rose to his feet. He remembered when he could take a cut anywhere on his form, and shrug it off by sunrise the next day. Treat it, sew it, burn it, bandage it, and be off to the fucking races. Now...
Now you need three days just to get the limp to sod off. But you didn't miss any. Not really.
Kasoria grunted as he splashed water across his face, swinging open the backdoor and letting the frigid morning air slap his senses clear. Ah, yes, more memories. Nothing woke a man better than that kind of fucking cold. He walked outside, clad in his breeches and nothing else, feeling the icy stones under his bare toes. He swung his arms out, stretched from side to side, rolled out his shoulders and let the motion work its way down his body to his feet.
Stiffness, in his arm. In his leg. The wounds were healing, both were closed, but still... they inhibited him. Limited him. Kasoria scowled at the bare walls of his tiny backyard, and took one knee... then another... then braced his hands and-
Push ups. Proof that simplicity did not immediately mean ease. The first dozen were enough to knock the stiffness from his limbs. The second and third dozen had him sweating, glaring at the stones as his nose bobbed up and down above them. The last two dozen finally awoke the pain in his arm, twisted and contracted flesh and muscle growling around the wound there.
Kasoria stopped and touched the bandage. No wetness, no color... but he was pushing it. Just like he'd been pushing it the last couple of days.
He switched things up. Never stopping, never giving up, just... adapting. His arm and leg meant that his regular routine was stymied, but all that meant was he had to leave things out and beef up what was left. He rolled over onto his back, shuffled forward until his feet were against the wall. He bent his knees, then reclined until his shoulder blades touched the floor... braced his hands behind his head and crunched forward-
Sit ups. Proving pretty much the same point, just through different muscles. His torso clenched and tightened every time he came up, trunk going from flat to vertical with every repetition. It took a few dozen before the cramp started to gnaw at his guts. Sweat was dripping off him by the fiftieth, leaving a ragged template of smears whenever he touched the ground again. By the eightieth it was running into his eyes and he finally just-
-flopped back onto the stones, grateful for the cold, the cool hiss they seemed to draw from his scorching skin. Still his limbs ached. Still they kept him back. So many exercises he had to pass over, and he could only repeat these two so many times. As he lay there, panting into the night sky that was such even with the new day, Kasoria felt eyes on him. Or mayhap just a shadow, and turned towards it...
A figure battered and old and still loomed over him. Clad in rags and much-repaired, by the looks of it. The killer sighed and nodded to himself. Aye. Once again, that would have to do. He rolled over, gritting his teeth as he came up to his feet in the same movement, aching leg be damned. Up he came into a crouch, as if ready to lunge at the training dummy still hanging against one wall of his yard.
Come on, then.
Thanks to Rumor for the template