|This article, The Onyx Chronicles/Leap of Faith, was written by Ahalosniper. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Though his eyes stung, they remained wide open and fixated in horror on the blackness that was revealed as the Pelican’s rear ramp lowered. Hundreds of feet in the air, the dropship’s troop bay was suddenly filled with gale-force winds sweeping between the closely-packed children inside, its currents whipping through the light fabric they wore and tearing the warmth from their skin.
Dyne shuddered, using that instinctual movement to tuck his chin to his neck and take his eyes off the hatch, but it wasn’t the chill that had gotten to him. It was the drop of who knew how far beyond the lip of the dropship’s deck just meters away. He hated heights. It was why he’d never bothered sneaking into the skyscrapers in New Alexandria. That and their security was usually better at spotting him. But that was something far off for him now, only able to think of staying away from the edge.
He glanced around at some of the others shouting in alarm, hoping one of them would be picked first. Dyne wasn’t certain what test the adults here had in mind, but he was pretty sure it involved the open door and packs they’d lashed tightly around each person’s arms and chest, and had a good guess. He squirmed under the straps digging into his shoulders, only forcing himself to stop when he realized he might need it to hold soon.
All the others around him uniformly looked like they shared his mix of uncertainty and fright. There’d been quite a mix of expressions when they’d been let out on the field minutes ago and listened to one of the adults who’d said his name was Ambrose give a speech. Some, like Kodiak, had shed a few tears at his words. The girl with white-blonde hair had set her face in stone, but her eyes burned with hate.
Dyne on the other hand, had just felt kind of . . . lost. He’d never seen the Covenant, or had his home burned by them. But Kodiak had told him about his home on Miridem, and how his parents had been killed by monsters when Stacker saved him. If that was what Ambrose wanted him do, fight to help protect his friends, he could do that . . . but did it have to involve heights?
“You will all form a line, and jump!” Yelled one of the adults over the howling in their ears. Dyne could see she was older than he or any of the others, and looked stronger than any of the adults he’d known, but didn’t look grown up. She couldn’t have been more than ten years Dyne’s elder, but her sneer of disgust watching the children huddle back further in the dropship’s bay gave the illusion of authority.
She reached her right hand to the red handle on the strap over his opposite shoulder. “If you plebes can’t bring yourselves to do it, you’re not Spartans! And if you can’t remember to pull this cord once you’re in the air, your dumb asses will be dead!”
Dyne lowered his head between his hunched shoulders, hoping being so thin wouldn’t make him look taller and stick out. The older kid’s sneer only deepened as the others did the same, like the redhead who hid her hair behind the arm she had reaching up for the strap, or the broad-shouldered boy who found something in the wall so captivating. He knew what they were feeling, because the same fearful reluctance kept him silent, too.
A rough nudge at his shoulder caused Dyne to turn his head to find Kodiak looking at him with an already familiar smile. It was the one he used when something dawned on him, like a plan to cause mischief or do something brash. Oh, no. Not now, what are you thinking?
“We should jump first.” He said, his normal volume just enough for only them to hear clearly in the wind. “I’ll go if you go. Give the others an example.”
Dyne blinked in surprise, and darted his eyes to the kids on the other side of Kodiak. Every one of them was growing more nervous as seconds passed, every instant bringing the possibility they’d be singled out. Boxed in among a cluster of brown-haired boys, the blonde girl stood out conspicuously and was looking nervous that the drill instructor would notice her, too. Her blue eyes caught him looking at her, and he quickly ducked back behind Kodiak.
“What did I get, the laundry? You’re nothing but washouts!” The instructor jeered, when Kodiak stepped forward.
He raised his voice so everyone could hear him, wearing the same malicious grin. “Ma’am, I’ve got first!”
She jerked her head back towards the open ramp and pitch darkness beyond. “Get to it faster, then.”
Kodiak left Dyne’s side and pushed between a couple of recruits in front of them, edging along the wall by following the guide rope. He reached the howling abyss at the back of the Pelican, and for only a moment stood frozen, letting his hand that held the wall drop. Then his grin widened, and he jumped and swung from the strap on the ceiling, letting go as he cleared the edge and being swallowed up by darkness the next moment.
The woman’s gaze turned back to the others without missing a beat. “Who’s next?”
Hesitation set in again on them all, but this time Dyne felt it was less paralyzing. He had to move before its grip strengthened, and he did it instinctively. There was a slightly larger gap between the two recruits in front of him Kodiak had passed, and Dyne jumped forward, turning sideways to fit through, but his pack caused him to shove both accidentally.
Without taking time to apologize, he landed, nearly stumbling on the Pelican’s deck, and dashed towards the emptiness outside. He cut loose a wild yell as his foot left the floor for the last time, and as gravity took over, using Dyne's body to cut through the air and pull him blindy down, he ripped open the cord and began his descent to Onyx.