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Boot Camp

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“So, Kaidan, this biotic training you had when you were younger. Was that like your boot camp?”

Garrus's question broke the unusual silence that hung over the crew as they cleaned their weapons. Allie wasn't complaining – sure, she enjoyed the chatting and camaraderie that came along with her team cleaning their gear together, but sometimes companionable silence was nice, too.

“What, you mean BAaT?” Kaidan clarified, gazing at his turian friend.

“Yeah. You called it something else, though,” Garrus replied.

“Brain camp,” Kaidan said, reaching for a rag. “And no, it was nothing like basic.”

“Oh? There aren't a lot of turian biotics and they have their own, specialized military training,” the turian said.

“Yeah, well, there aren't a lot of human biotics, either, and BAaT was more about studying us than preparing us for the military,” Kaidan said.

From there, talk turned of how turians trained their soldiers in comparison to the Alliance, how turians start their training young by human standards – basic training starts at the age of fifteen - and that service is compulsory whereas for humans, it's voluntary and not permitted prior to the age of eighteen. Garrus also mentioned how even for how many turians there are, they only have about half a dozen training facilities.

“Humans have a lot more than that,” Ash chimed in. “Well over a dozen on earth alone. The larger colonies have their own, too.”

“So what determines where you go for training?” Tali asked. “Do you get to stay close to home?”

“Sometimes, if you're lucky,” Kaidan replied. “It's usually the luck of the draw. Isn't that how you do it?”

Garrus's mandibles twitched at Kaidan's question. “No. Prior to our training, there is about a week of assessments, to figure out where our strengths are. That's how they figure out where to send us. Sometimes someone with the right name or lineage can get transferred if they get an assignment they don't want, but that's rare. The Heirarchy is pretty adamant about having a military that plays to its strengths and overcomes its weaknesses. They don't want to send someone with a knack for strategy to a camp where the emphasis is on logistics.”

“That makes sense,” Allie admitted. “But that sort of specialized training comes later in a human soldier's career. Everyone in the Alliance is Infantry first, regardless of your job specialization. Boot makes you into that type of soldier, then you head to your advanced training to learn your job and continue to work on being a soldier.”

“Seems like a waste to me,” Garrus said. “Why not combine all of that training?”

“Because human society is a lot different from turian,” Ash explained. “Service isn't compulsory, so we aren't born learning military protocols and basic marksmanship. We need more time for that.”

“What about the asari?” Kaidan asked Liara. “Do they wrap all their training together like the turians or do they break it up like humans do?”

“I am not sure,” Liara admitted. “I am no commando nor did I have any desire to learn anything about our military. The only reason I know how to use a pistol is because my mother forced me to learn so I could protect myself from wildlife and mercenaries while at dig sites.”

“Do the quarians even have a military?” Ash asked Tali. “Would you need one?”

“Yes, we have a military,” Tali answered, “more as a security and police force for the fleet than anything else. It isn't like we would be successful going to war with anyone in the galaxy.”

“Wrex?”Liara looked at the krogan who'd long since finished cleaning his shotgun and was watching the group with an amused look on his face.

“What?” he asked.

“I know krogan aren't allowed to have a military but do your clans do any kind of organized training?”

Wrex pushed himself off the wall and crossed his arms over his chest, giving the young asari one of the sternest looks Allie had ever seen. “Even if the clans were that organized – and they aren't, not by a long shot – you think I'd tell you? If a clan had any kind of organized training like, the Council might think it's a militia. Yes, the whelps learn how to shoot, and if any of them are biotics, they're sent to the females to learn how to control their power.”

“Krogan military,” he scoffed under his breath. “I'll never see one while I'm alive.”

“LT, where did you do your training?” Ash asked.

Kaidan gave Allie a furtive glance and she just raised an eyebrow at him. She knew where he did all of his training – what schools he attended, how he did, who his trainers were – because she was privy to his personnel file. It was one of those things she considered a private matter, though. If another soldier mentioned where they trained, Allie kept that information to herself. She knew where Ash trained prior to reading her file – it hadn't been transferred to the Normandy until several weeks after Eden Prime – because they talked about it. Allie still smiled at the fact they not only went to the same camp, but that they also had some of the same instructors.

“You might as well tell her,” Allie said. “You know between her and Joker, they'll figure it out eventually.”

Kaidan pulled the slide back on his pistol, checked down the barrel, and let the slide fall shut. He sighed and mumbled something under his breath.

“What was that?” Garrus asked. “It sounded like 'Disney'.”

Ash's head shot up at that word. “No. Way. LT, you did NOT go to Camp Disney.”

Kaidan just shrugged and shook his head. “If you say so, Chief.”

“Well, shit. My respect for you just doubled.” The look on her face was pure awe.

“Wait, I'm confused,” Garrus said. “What's Camp Disney?”

“Back before the First Contact war, there was a company that owned dozens of amusement parks,” Allie explained. “They also did movies and shows and a ton of other things. During the war, the Alliance thought an amusement park would make a great place to train its soldiers in urban warfare, so they took over the Disney park located on the west coast of North America. It's got the reputation of being the toughest place to do boot camp in all of the Alliance.”

“Why? Don't your camps all have the same training regimens?” Garrus asked.

“They're supposed to, but every place is different. The staff is different. You might have a drill instructor at one place that will overlook a bootlace hanging out and one at another place that will make you do fifty push-ups for such an infraction,” Allie shrugged. “Plus every facility offers its own challenges – some have steep hills recruits are forced to climb regularly, others might have bad weather year-round, stuff like that.

“Apparently, because the place used to be an amusement park, the leadership there wanted to squash any kind of idea incoming recruits might have about the place being an easy time.” Allie sighed and fought back a smile at the obvious red flush that had crept up Kaidan's neck and covered his cheeks.

“I mean, it certainly explains a lot,” Ash said, her eyes still wide with respect.

Again, Kaidan just shrugged and stood to stow his gear. “It was training,” he murmured as he grabbed Liara's pistol to help her clean it.

“Is that facility really so different?” Garrus asked.

“Supposedly,” Allie shrugged. “If a recruit is going to wash out, they're going to do it there. They have a pretty high drop rate.”

“And the Alliance is ok with that?” the turian pressed.

“Yes because the soldiers that do make it are some of the best the Alliance has. It's almost like seeing someone with an N7 on their armor,” Allie said.

Ash nodded in agreement. “LT is the first person I've ever known who went there. Camp Disney definitely has a reputation."

“Wait, so, Shepard, this Camp Disney place is like doing your N7 training?” Tali asked.

“No, no, not by a long shot,” Allie answered. “It's tough, but ICT is a whole 'nother beast. Now that I think about it,” Allie frowned and leaned back against the bulkhead, “I had a lot of classmates in ICT that went there.”

“Kaidan, do you think your experience at this brain camp helped prepare you for boot camp?” Liara asked.

Allie paused what she was doing and watched Kaidan. She knew what he went through at BAaT, but she wasn't sure if he told anyone else on the crew. In her mind, it was hard to figure how killing someone in self-defense would prepare you for a career in the military, but she had a perspective Liara lacked.

“In a way,” Kaidan said slowly. “The staff was primarily turian, so we had a strict schedule. Lights on, meals, training, about an hour of personal time every day, lights out. In that sense, yes, it helped. But from a military point of view, it did nothing. What I knew about the Alliance and training I learned from my dad.”

“I don't know,” Tali said, “but it seems like you humans like to do a lot of camping when you train. What?” she asked, confused when a chuckle ran through the group. “There was brain camp, boot camp... I've been waiting for you to all talk about sleeping outdoors, too.”

The group laughed and Ash gently explained why the training places were called 'camps' and when she said that they did often spend a lot of time sleeping outdoors, the quarians confusion only grew.

“I'll never understand you humans,” she huffed.