Name: Steve "Dozer" Maltus Rank: Rookie Class: Redshirt Steve was nervous. The four walls of his bunk were familiar, but seemed to be closing in around him. Not in a "I'm having a psychotic breakdown" kind of way, but Steve was certainly feeling like it was a little stuffy in here. Nothing seemed to fit in place right anymore, with the walls that much smaller. He walked around, changing the position of some of the small knick-knacks on his desk , rearranging books to fit on the shelf better on the shelf, but every time he looked back there, everything was too small for the space again. He'd written in his journal, but multiple scribble marks showed that he just couldn't find the right words for anything anymore. Everything was right, but when re-read, there was just something off about it that he couldn't place his finger on. Knee bouncing, hands always moving, Steve probably hadn't stayed in one place for more than 10 minutes at a time. He'd finally placed his gun down for the third time that day, the polish bright and gleaming off of the tan colored exterior. He sighed heavily, running his hands through his hair, the stress nearly radiating off of him. It had been too long. Too long since something had happened, too long since something attacked. Even if it wasn't with him on board, there was something easing about having boot out there on the ground, fighting off this threat. Yeah, he worried about the crew on the ground, but they were the best. Same thing with his old unit before they... before they didn't come back. But you just accepted it before. Waiting was different. The anxiety, the silence from the outside, it was enough to make anyone squirm. Routine was key here, but Steve hadn't planned on this down time. Someone freaked out at one point and broke all the mirrors in the gym, so it was down while they replaced it. And Steve was left without much to do. He suddenly stood up, nearly knocking his chair over with the suddenness of it. He needed to get out. Do something. Anything. He remembered that the officer's school had opened not too long ago. Admittance was voluntary for the lower ranks and those teaching was chosen from a few of the vets, but Command had been putting some classes together to help teach the rookies what to prepare for out in the field. Even as it crossed his mind that it might be a good idea since Rebecca had put him in for the next wave of away teams, his feet were already pacing out the door. The veteran leading the class that day appeared to be Rebecca herself. She almost looked like a different person and it took a second for Steve to recognize the woman who was now displaying very short black hair and a pair of glasses on her nose. He remembered how he had spotted the black roots in her otherwise brown hair and understood how she had gone back to her original color by simply cutting everything that was tinted, but he didn't believe Rebecca had been wearing contact lens before. Had she stolen the pair from someone for show? If there’s one thing that hadn't changed in her persona, it was the cheerful attitude she had displayed the first time they met during the workout session. Standing proudly in the middle of the room, she was frenetically pointing her laser at a giant picture of a Sectoid, explaining how funny it was to make their big heads explode, with a joy in her voice that was off-putting for some of the studying rookies. When Steve sat in an unoccupied chair, Rebecca noticed him and pointed the laser right in his eye. He lifted his hand to protect it from the annoying light while grumbling a complaint. “Rookie Maltus, you’re late!" Steve looked away at a clock on the wall. “I was informed this would start at 14 pm, which is right now. Now, can you please point that laser somewhere else?” She did, but then added, “war doesn't wait for those who are only ready on time! What you have to be ready for is anything that may not go as planned. Constant vigilance!” Rebecca seemed so excited at the idea of acting like a teacher that Steve suspected that the truth was more about her being unable to wait for the exact time she had herself set for this class. As if she had heard his thoughts, Rebecca pointed the laser back at his chest. “Now, Mister-knows-everything, tell me, how many genders can be found among Sectoids? Steve looked at the very bouncy example of an instructor, her huge smile and eagerness very much present in everything she did. He looked to the other 'students' in the class, seeing everything from boredom to shock to slight smiles and he could only guess the types of stuff she had covered so far in class. "My question back would be, 'Who cares?'" He responded simply. "It doesn't matter if it's a male or female or some third gender that only reproduces via budding when the sun sets just right. You'll shoot them all if they are shooting at you." A cocked eyebrow pointed at Rebecca indicated how he felt about the question as he leaned back and settled into his chair. "But, but..." She tilted her head, scratching at her chin with her index finger while looking for an answer. "Ah, but! What if they have different personality patterns depending on their genders! What if one day you come across some Sectoid's precious eggs and it suddenly get ten times as big in anger because of some motherly instincts! Yes, yes, that's why it's important! At war, information is half the battle, fools! You should never dismiss any potential information about the enemy! Knowing how to shoot will lead you nowhere if you can't understand your opponent tactics and movements!" Before anyone could object, she continued her train of thought with a more serious tone, and was now walking in circle near the first line of seat, hands behind her back. "Actually, our ability to shoot grey aliens is worth horse's shit". It was the first time anybody at the XCOM base had heard Rebecca swears. "There are billions of people who can shoot things on this planet. Those fuckers have spaceships, they are abducting us like cattle, and that's probably what we are for them, animals. If you act like one, if you just seek and destroy, then you are just like the shark in the ocean: while you are chewing one or two surfers per year, those weak humans are killing millions of your kind through various sophisticated means." She stopped, turned, and started walking the other way. "What you should focus on is two things: one, survive. Two, learn. It has been more than a month, but we still know almost nothing about those space travelers, and we keep getting more questions each time a new damn abomination takes its turn to try to murder us. The Sectoids can help each other through unidentified invisible means, the Thin Men have poisonous properties we have yet to see in action, the floating cyborgs bastards can fly and dominates us, the squids robots are somehow able to hide themselves in plain sight and take us by surprise, and who knows what more crazy shit we are going to see n the future. I don't want you to see those aliens as cardboard targets that you only need to shoot at, I want you to stalk them as if you were a crazy person with a mad crush on them. And I also want you to look at the scientists and answer any of their requests as if they were the earthly messengers of your God, because they are the ones who have qualifications which aren't worse horse's dung." She stopped, back at the middle of the room. "What I can teach you is how to survive - at least against the Sectoids and the Thin Men, refer to my colleagues for the others - and the rest you will have to learn it on the field and hope that you were correctly selected for this operation and are able to do so." From that point on, Rebecca spent the rest of the class talking about the witnessed abilities and tactics of the two mentioned aliens species, with a few speculations taken from the scientists and some personal advice from her on how to handle them in close combat. Steve was watching her mimic exactly how she jumped on the Sectoid in question for this example, and right before she pulled the trigger, a crackling came over the intercom. "Lieutenant Kuklinski, Sergeant Robinson, Squaddies Largo and Ritofuto, and Rookie Maltus, report to the Ready Room and suit up, Mission in 10." Rebecca smiled a very predatory smile as she looked back to the classroom. "Well then, we'll have to finish the story after I make some new ones. Maltus, let's go and spill some blood." Steve, for all of his anxiety and nerves for this very moment, felt calm as a still pond. It was exactly like being on the black squad. Nerves until it was time. Then it was all training. "Let's go Ma'am. Their mamas won't recognize em after we're through."