EXT. Core Systems Training Academy - DAY
A line of Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation cadets stand at attention near an airfield. A drill sergeant paces back and forth in front of them.
DRILL SERGEANT: Cadets, welcome to Hell. It's my job to turn you maggots into Grunts. I don't expect all of you to make it through. Look to your left and your right.
The cadets look left and right.
DRILL SERGEANT: At least one of those people won't survive.
He reaches the end of the line and eyeballs CADET 1.
DRILL SERGEANT: Are you ready to become a man?
CADET 1: (in unison with others) Sir, yes, sir!
DRILL SERGEANT: Good! Now pick up your rifle.
Each of the cadets grabs the rifle at their feet and holds upright in front of them.
DRILL SERGEANT: Congratulations, you've completed Grunt training. The dropship taking you to the front line will be here in a few minutes.
CADET 1: Permission to speak freely?
DRILL SERGEANT: Sure, whatever. Not my problem anymore.
CADET 1: Shouldn't we get more training? I don't think we're ready for combat.
CADET 2: I lost my rifle.
DRILL SERGEANT: It's not my job to prepare you for combat.
CADET 1: Aren't we soldiers?
DRILL SERGEANT: Kind of. We're not expecting you to actually kill anything, though.
CADET 3: (to Cadet 2) Oh, I grabbed two rifles by accident. Here, take one of mine.
Cadet 2 tries to take Cadet 3's extra rifle but grabs it by the trigger. It fires a burst of bullets into his chest, killing him. Cadet 1 and Drill Sergeant glance at the corpse, then back at each other.
CADET 1: So what are we doing in battle, then? Recon? Artillery spotting?
DRILL SERGEANT: No, your job is to make the Pilots feel better about themselves.
Just then, a Titan on autopilot stomps past the line of cadets. The PILOT back-flips into the cockpit and straps himself in. He fires up a cigar.
PILOT: Sup, scrubs.
The Titan walks off. The cadets gaze longingly at it.
DRILL SERGEANT: Some of the Pilots aren't very good at their job. That's where you come in. You're there as a reminder that they could be much worse at their job.
CADET 1: Are the Pilots going to protect us at all?
DRILL SERGEANT: If they do, it's completely accidental.
CADET 3: I don't wanna go to war anymore.
DRILL SERGEANT: Oh, relax. You're going to be backed up by an army of advanced robots. Spectres can fire more accurately than a human soldier and even take more damage. Or maybe they just take more damage. I forget.
CADET 1: Why don't they just do the fighting instead of us? We could be in charge of repairing them.
CADET 3: Or supervise them. Promote synergy.
DRILL SERGEANT: That wouldn't work. You're there to make the robots feel better about their abilities, too.
CADET 1: Robots have self-esteem?
DRILL SERGEANT: It's unclear. Robot psychology's still a budding field. Couldn't hurt, though.
The dropship lands nearby. The cadets reluctantly start boarding. Cadet 1 turns back to face the sergeant.
CADET 1: I just feel like you should be a bit more up-front about the whole thing, you know?
He boards the dropship. The drill sergeant salutes the craft as it takes off. He watches it recede into the sky, nodding to himself. Then he turns to face a new line of cadets that have walked up.
DRILL SERGEANT: Cadets, it's my job to turn you into grunts. Not all of you are going to make it through the training. Look to your left and your right.
The cadets look to their left and their right.
DRILL SERGEANT: You're all going to die.