Repost The wall

The following is a story originally posted by Anonymous (!U7wWt335F) over at 4chan's /k/ board on 17-11-13.

Mirror HFY


I was told that if I did things right, they wouldn't remember me. They wouldn't know my name, my age, my home, nothing. Not a damn thing. I'm not exactly sure I pulled that off. I think a few know my name, I think I might even be some kind of legend. But I still think I did things right.

I was among the first ten thousand humans that volunteered for the ISPF - the Interstellar Peace Fleet. we had just been invited into the fold of a vibrant galactic community, and while no one paid us much mind or expected too much from us, we expected a lot from ourselves. Unfortunately, the human body is only so strong. By week three, seven thousand humans had washed out, and that was before any of the real physical training started.

Humans are small compared to most everyone else - in the ISPF, anyway. Hulking monsters exist within the fleets ranks, beings that could do my workload twice over. Some did. See, the range of species in the ISPF is far too diverse for any standardized training regimen. The instructors are as smart as they are mean; each and every single one of them knows the anatomy and biology of every single species in the fleet, and tailors the training towards individuals. A lot of guys in my division got the kind of training that would kill a human in twenty minutes. The instructors drove me almost to death, but even next to my shipmates, it seemed like my training was a breeze.

They resented me for it too. They were doing twice the work, if not more, than I was doing but I still got to stand at attention beside them. I still ate in the galley beside them, I still marched beside them. I could see the question in their eyes every time I met one of their gazes; why does this puny thing get to hang with us? And I'll be honest, I asked myself the same question too. I may be working at my maximum capacity, but my maximum is some other guys fifty percent. Who would want me fighting by his side when he could have the centipede dude that can climb walls or the red gorilla-lizard thing that could bite a slab of concrete to pieces?

I got the answer to that question by week seven. By now, rumor had gotten around I was the last human still in training; all the others had washed out. Anyway, a new obstacle reared its head for us. In the human training camps, there's always that wooden wall. You see it for the first time and it looks like it's fifty meters tall and you don't know how you're gonna get over it. They've got something like that in the ISPF. We called it the morphing wall. It changed shape and height and texture based on whatever species was currently using it. The centipede guy, for example, he was the first one up. Soon as be touched the wall it turned as smooth as glass with barely a bump on it and arched over him so that he'd have to climb upside down half way up. It took him twenty minutes to scrabble his way and even then, he fell off when climbing upside down. Another one of my shipmates went up, Archopex, a sort of bird-looking thing with mean-looking talons. As soon as he touched the wall it turned into smooth rock. He would dig his talons in to make footholds. Even with that advantage, the rock was too hard for him to dig in. He fell off ten meters up and the safety tether stopped his fall.

Then it was my turn. I felt everyone's eyes on me like lasers. They must've thought I was gonna get a fence or something. Maybe a little green hedge for me to hop over. I was actually kind of expecting that compared to the hell I just saw the other guys go through. I touched the wall. It didn't change, not at first. Then it just went crazy, first it was glass, then it was spiked like a sea urchin, then it changed to vines and stone. It kept changing shape, never settling on anything. I heard someone yell for something but I didn't pay it much mind.

Finally the morphing wall had found the shape for me. It was a bare rock face with crystals that crept up like veins along the surface. The crystals were hard as metal and cut my hands very easily. There weren't many handholds for me besides the crystals. But I wouldn't shy away, this was my wall now, my chance to prove myself, I jumped up and grabbed hold. Only three meters up and I had already gashed my hand. By the tenth meter, I had ripped off two fingernails. The crystals were the only real way up, the handholds in the cool rock were a welcome reprieve from the hellish pain the crystals brought, but were too far apart to reliably traverse without touching the razor-edged crystals. I looked down and saw the blood trail from my hands had hit the bottom. By the time I had reached the top my arms were noodles, my hands sliced to ribbons. The way down was just as hard as up. I was nearly in tears from the pain. I collapsed onto the ground from two meters up, barely breaking my fall with my hands and legs as the safety tether snapped taught.

I tried to get up but I couldn't. I think I had lost too much blood to really think straight. A corpsman was called over, fixed up my hands as best he could without taking me to medical and then stood me up. I heard the clacking of my instructor's boots as he approached. I didn't have the energy to even look up. I tried putting my legs together, tried to stand as straight as I could, but I couldn't look up. All I saw were his boots pointed opposite mine.

"What the fuck is wrong with you recruit?" he shouted. It took a lifetime but I finally lifted my head. I didn't dare meet his gaze, but I swear to this day I saw a bit of pride in his eyes. I was his recruit after all. At the time I didn't understand, something he must've sensed. He pointed to one of my shipmates; a blue and green 2.5 meter tall humanoid with six arms big enough to tear me in half. "That was his wall, recruit" said my instructor, "his wall. I yelled a hundred times for you to fucking stop. You hard of hearing recruit?" I lazily shook my head. "Get the fuck back in line."

The rest of the day was uneventful. Some people made it over the wall, some didn't. It wasn't until lights out that night my shipmates clued me in. The centipede guy told me the instructor only yelled once, and it was for a technician to come calibrate the wall, since no human had ever touched it before. As soon as I grabbed hold of the first piece of crystal, the instructor didn't say another word and motioned for the technician to stop. When I asked how it could've been the other guy's wall since he hadn't touched it, someone chimed in that human DNA most closely matched Jolako DNA, so that's what the wall gave me.

No one would openly pat me on the back or anything but after that, I never saw the question it their eyes anymore. I had a seat at the table, a spot in the formation, I had earned my place.

Four weeks later, I was the only human at the graduation. During the first year of my tour I learned five thousand other humans had passed through training since my graduation. Not a single one of them ever climbed a wall meant for humans.

Humans might not be better than anyone else, but we rise to the challenge like everyone else. We can fight alongside the bad-asses of the galaxy, and they would be glad to have us fight alongside them.