Thanks, coach

blade“Our people assaulted the ship en masse. Those with weapons fired at it, those without hurled whatever was at hand even though they knew such acts to be futile. This is how the last of the Amarrian ships fled our world”

– Unknown Author, “Tales of the Rebellion”, Minmatar Archives

To say Blade Commander Reynolds was a beast would be a disservice to her ferocity. She was one of the few ‘norms’ to serve in the Tribal Liberation Force in a non-support role, that is, those who were not immortal pod pilots; regular humans contributing as more than fodder or paper pushers. So often we capsuleers became arrogant in our superiority, looking down our noses at those who were not fellow ‘gods’, deciding life and death for the countless masses on a whim. It was this contagious mentality that eventually led to the downfall of the empires, but I’m getting ahead of myself …

Training was hard. If you’ve ever pushed yourself physically, you may think that counts as training. It can, but only if you can answer yes to any and all of these questions:

  • Have you puked while training?
  • Have you shit yourself?
  • Passed out?
  • Collapsed because your muscles had nothing let to give?

Then maybe you’ve scratched the service of training. It’s more than pushing your physical limits. It’s completely breaking yourself down on the deepest levels and being re-molded into something else, something better. You will suffer through emotional breakdowns. You will cry for many reasons and none at all. You will be so mentally drained you sometimes forget how to walk. Or think. All you will want is to eat and to sleep.

Even then you haven’t reached the level your trainer wants, despite how hard you push yourself.

I still remember the morning my epiphany about this occurred…


“C’mon! Go!” she bellowed at me, and despite the uncontrollable shake in my legs, despite my inability to catch a breath, despite the voice in my head telling me I couldn’t do it, that I needed to stop and relax, despite my fear of missing the jump onto the high box and hurting myself, I jumped. My mind raced at warp speed, telling me I wouldn’t make it, that my shins would hit the corner of the box, that it would tip and I would amplify my own pain as I failed, crashing to the ground, snapping bones and bruising muscle. I couldn’t do it.

Everything slowed at that moment. None of it mattered. It all became distant noise. The voices in my head, the fear, the epic music playing loudly in the training facility. The other trainees. It all faded away.

Her voice was the only sound.

That is when I realized I had become hers. That is when I first felt the bond between us. Her sadistic laugh every time I would curse out loud while training. The demented sparkle in her eye every time she leaned into my personal space screaming at me to do more than I thought I could. It wasn’t hate. It wasn’t a desire to punish others. It wasn’t ego. It was genuine affection. Such a deep and sincere care that I struggle to find the words to describe it.

She had shared encouragement with me previously, telling me that she knew no matter what she asked of me I would simply do it, and how she wished all trainees were that driven. Maybe part of it was my inability to take compliments (aren’t we all our own harshest critic?) or maybe it was my cynicism that believed she said that to everyone as a motivational technique, but it was finally in that moment of surrender that I understood.

She had broken me. For my own good. And it was time to rebuild me into the man that would become Roc Wieler.

After that, things progressed rapidly. She would say. I would do without hesitation. Despite trepidation. Despite doubt.

And that was only the beginning of our story …


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