"Oh, look! We're almost there!" The commander of the Stationary Guard pointed to a small building of what looked like a castle.
"So, we're supposed to be over there?" Ash questioned.
"Yes Ash, that's correct."
Alder commanded the rest of the squad to move toward the castle-like structure.
"Whoa... So this is where the Recon Corps's at right now..." said Virgil, one of the soldiers switching forces with Ash and the others, as they arrived at the Recon Corps' headquarters.
"Yeah..." Ash sighed reminiscently, remembering the scent of sweat and blood the soldiers brought from the constant life-or-death battles with the Titans back when he was young.
A soldier with a bandanna wrapped and tied around his head approached Commander Alder and his group.
"Ah, Samuel," the Garrison commander greeted the bandanna-covered soldier. "I guess Commander Brandon is a bit busy at this time?"
"Yes sir," Samuel answered. "He sent me down to guide your troops to their rooms. You guys should be lucky. He's in a good mood right now. He's usually not a happy camper, with the Titans and such."
"Oh, I see," Commander Alder replied. "Bring these kids to where they're supposed to be. I'll see if I can engage in a little discussion with that damn so-called commander of the Recon Corps."
Samuel gulped. "Y-yes sir. Right away," he answered meekly. Alder gets off his Rapidash and leaves, leaving Samuel with the seven recruits. "And don't forget Rapidash!" was the last thing the commander shouted out to Samuel before he left.
"Guess this means I'll show you new guys to your dorm rooms now..." Samuel said weakly.
**[5-10 minutes later; third floor dorm rooms]**
"Your rooms should be here for now until you're told otherwise. Just try not to get too comfortable," Samuel explained to the new recruits from the Garrison. "So I guess... Enjoy your stay, then?" Total silence.
"I'll just leave now..." He headed over to the door and left.
"Well, this is... awkward," Ash said, breaking the long silence in the hallway.
More footsteps. Everyone sat in a disturbed silence before someone appeared at the other end of the hall. Sam again?
"Sorry, I almost forgot to tell you. The commander needs everyone in the dining area," Samuel reminded the new recruits. "It's time for dinner." He smiles weakly.
He left the halls and went downstairs. The recruits followed. By the time they got to the dining room, it was packed. Soldiers, old and new alike, packed up most of the available seats in the room.
"Great. Now where are we supposed to sit? There's barely any room for us," one of the new recruits groaned impatiently.
"Now, now. There's no need to complain. I'm sure they still have enough seats available for all of us," Anabel reassured. "Just look harder, okay?"
It was difficult to find empty seats in the vastly crowded room. Just looking for them only gave them a headache.
"Yo! Newbies! I saved some seats for you guys!" A red-headed soldier shouted, waving both of his arms to the group.
"Over there!" one of the new recruits spotted the soldier and went over to him. The others followed.
**[3-5 minutes later]**
"Hey, thanks for letting us sit here," Ash thanked the red-headed soldier.
"No problem. The name's Stephan," The red-head told Ash and stuck out his hand to him. "Welcome to the Recon Corps!"
"Thanks. I'm Ash," Ash introduced himself to Stephan and shook his hand.
"So... Who's with you?" Stephan asked casually, slinging his arm around Ash.
"W-what?" Ash questioned him, giving him a strange look. "What do you mean?"
Stephan pointed to Anabel. "There. I'm talking 'bout her. Who's she?"
"A-Ana-" Ash stuttered, turning his head away and blushing. He gulped. "Ana. bel."
"So the one with short purple hair is Anabel, right?" Stephan asked, giving Ash a large grin.
"Uh, yeah, yeah. That's right."
"So how's the food here?" Ash asked.
"Well, pretty bad, but you'll get used to it eventually," Stephan answered while he gave Ash a bowl of what looked like slushy potato soup speckled with rotten vegetables.
Ash took a sip of the so-called 'food' Stephan gave to him. "Blech" was his only reaction he could give to the 'food,' aside from a sour face with his tongue sticking out. It was terrible...
"It's still pretty bad, though," Stephan finally said to him.
"Now you tell me," Ash told Stephan.
Dong! Dong! Dong! Dinner was finished.
"Aha-ha. I gotta go now. See ya tomorrow!" Stephan left along with the rest of the soldiers. As soon as the new recruits started to leave, Samuel walked over to them.
"The commander needs you to stay over here," Samuel informed them. "He wants to see his new recruits."
"And swap out his old ones," Ash mumbled under his breath.
Anabel roughly elbowed his side. Ash winced. "Ow... What was that for?"
"The commander will be here any minute now," Anabel informed him. "The least you could do is look like you're paying attention."
"Fine," Ash sighed. He turned his gaze at the slightly open doorway.
Samuel checked the recruits, getting them in order and occasionally giving some advice to the other new recruits. After he finished, he turned to the doorway, shouting, "Everyone's ready, sir!"
Ash heard footsteps. Knowing it was the commander about to arrive at anytime now, he immediately put one fist on his chest, the other behind his back, and his feet at least a foot apart. The salute. As the others realized the commander's arrival, Anabel and the others also saluted.
The commander of the Recon Corps arrived in the diner room, hands crossed behind his back and wearing a stern expression on his face. He gained more wrinkles the last time Ash saw him, and his hair seemed to become grayer by age. He scanned the recruits, then turned to face one of them.
"Explain yourself, young man," He told the recruit.
"I am Tony from the Yakell District!" The recruit introduced himself, carrying much gusto and determination in his tone. "I plan to join the Recon Corps because I want to save humanity!"
The commander gave no reaction to Tony and simply tells him, "You are dismissed." Tony left. The commander then went over to Virgil, who (like Tony) had introduced himself as a soldier and stated his intentions for being in the Recon Corps. He was also dismissed after that. The same process went on for the other new recruits, introducing themselves, stating their reasons for joining, and then being dismissed. Then he went over to Anabel, skipping Ash in the process.
"And who are you, young lady?" The commander asked.
Anabel explained herself, with dignity, "I am Anabel from the Hermiha District. My only reason for joining the Recon Corps is to protect a dear friend of mine."
"I see. And who might that be?" The commander questioned her.
"Ash Ketchum, sir," Anabel answered.
The commander's eyes widened slightly after hearing the name, then closed them. "Very well. Anabel, you are dismissed."
Anabel walked away, then stopped a few feet away to see Ash for the last time. Then she went to the doorway and left.
After Anabel left, the commander now turned to Ash. "So, you must be Ash Ketchum. Correct?"
Ash nodded his head in response. "Yes, sir."
"Come with me." The commander headed to a doorway and left. Ash followed.
"So where are we going, commander?"
"You'll find out as soon as we get there."
Ash sighed. "Yes, sir."
End of Part 3.