So, I ended up watching Enemy Mine and Judgment Night.
And for Sunday (this feels like a long one):
"Again," Sandman said.
Rook and the Ranger came at Jack from different sides, arms outstretched and jaws wide. The first time, Jack had laughed, and Rook put a bite on his liver that left him howling and bleeding. And now, Jack didn't laugh.
Instead, he danced back out of reach and gripped the nightstick at both ends. As Rook came in, Jack shunted his hands away with the length of black wood and slammed the handle against Rook's temple, barely cushioning the blow with his own hand. Rook went down, rolling.
Jack spun to meet the Ranger's charge. He swung the nightstick from left to right in a swift arc, but the Ranger tripped over Rook's prone form and fell under the swing. On the way down, he wrapped his arms around Jack's legs and pulled him to earth. Frustrated, Jack kneed the Ranger in the jaw and cracked him with the nightstick.
"Stop," commanded Sandman. "What are you doing?"
"Come on," Jack yelled. "That was a pretty convenient trip, if you ask—"
"I'm not," the Sandman said, taking a step forwards, "nor will I ever. Get some shit straight. This training isn't for you, and it sure as shit isn't for us. This training is for the two hundred souls back at the Colony, for every man, woman and child that's depending on you to live long enough to meet your objective. They deserve your fucking respect, your commitment."
Jack's eyes dropped and the scowl he wore faded. He got up and reached down to help the Ranger get to his feet. "Sorry," he said.
The Ranger wagged his jaw back and forth. "Seems to me nothing's loose."
"Rook?" Sandman asked.
"All good here," the younger man said. "Just, hey Jack, remember, when it's the real deal, you better not pull anything back."
Nodding, Jack considered the nightstick. "So, does that mean that this is it? I mean, I'm not graduating to a machete or anything am I?"
"Nightstick ain't bad," the Sandman said. "Comfortable grip, weighted end, doesn't need reloading or sharpening." He put his hand on Jack's shoulder. "But you got a better weapon. Don't you?"
Jack froze. "I . . . I don't—"
"Sure, you do," Sandman said, winking at Rook. "We get it, alright? It's kind of a private thing."
Jack's head began a nod.
"I mean," Sandman continued, "it's just all those lives, right? Shit, I was you, I'd be heading for the hills, too."
"It's not that way," Jack said.
"It's not? Huh." The hand came off Jack's shoulder. "You weren't exactly the man about town back at the Colony. I seem to remember you had a nickname."
"Roach," Rook said, quietly.
"Roach, that's right." The Sandman smiled, suddenly full of glee. "You know why they called you that?"
Jack turned and started away. "I don't want to talk about it."
With a quick step and a grab, Sandman stopped him. "But I do. See, what we've got here is a question of survival. And they call you Roach because that's what you do, you survive, just like a dirty cockroach."
With an angry twitch of his shoulders, Jack shook Sandman's hand off.
"Fuck you, Sandman. Leave me alone."
"We just want to make it through, Roach. You didn't exactly shine back at the tower."
Jack turned back and walked up to Sandman. "You don't know shit."
"I know," Sandman said, putting a finger in Jack's chest, "that you've got some kind of mind power that shields you. And it shields us. What I want to know is, why didn't you try and shield anyone else?"
All the color fell from Jack's face.
"Oh, struck a nerve? I heard you crying the other night. Everyone says Roach don't cry. So, I figure that you were bawling your eyes out for mommy or—"
He swung the nightstick at Sandman's neck, who stepped back out of the arc smiling.
"Oh, it's like that, huh? Bring it, Roach boy!"
"Stop that!" Jack snarled, jumping at Sandman and leaning back, thrusting his knee out. The veteran fighter batted the leg away and circled around to Jack's left, away from the nightstick.
Jack darted in, chopping at Sandman backhand, kicking, turning and spinning with the nightstick, just trying to tag the soldier. He missed.
And he missed.
He got close and grappled in, pulling the Sandman to him and trying to get a lock behind his head, working for a clinch to smash his knees into Sandman's face. With a turn and a hip thrust, the veteran threw Jack down.
"Poor little Roach, all alone now, and all he had to do was get off his ass and save his mommy."
Jack screamed in inarticulate rage and leapt up, thrusting forward with the nightstick. Sandman turned and chopped at Jack's wrist as it went by, and the length of wood dropped from numb fingers. Sandman pushed Jack, sending him sprawling, and picked the nightstick up.
Snarling, Jack rushed forward and the Sandman kicked his legs out from under him. Jack went down hard, and Sandman raised the stick.
"No!" Jack screamed, and the night pulsed.
Sandman went flying, flipping over once and landing on his face and chest. He slid five more feet and came to a moaning rest, and Jack got to his feet.
"Whoa, whoa," Dusty yelled, running over to Sandman. He bent down and checked his fellow Green Beret.
Rolling over, Sandman gave the older man the a-ok with right hand, thumb and index finger in a circle, other three fingers extended.
"Good job, soldier," Dusty said. He looked up at Jack, who was more confused than angry. "If you're still mad, boy, take it out on me and Five-Oh. That was our idea. It was a test."
"And congratulations," Five-Oh said, slow-clapping his hands for emphasis. "You passed."