1st Year, P. 1

For over twenty years, Calvary Academy was the most prestigious educational institute in the entire kingdom. The founding Generals were tasked with creating a multi-faceted course load to prepare the cadets for battle. Their daily schedule comprised; Physical Training just after sunrise, a light breakfast, Geographical Land Navigation, Chemical Warfare, lunch, Tactical Skills Training, designated Military Occupational Specialties, and concluded with dinner. Training was rigorous, and any cadet whose performance fell below the average standard faced immediate expulsion. The cadre of professors comprised elite officers from every branch. They all met the requirement to serve no less than five years in their respective areas of specialties. 
Cadet Savoi was especially excited to attend the Chemical Warfare class, as it pertained specifically to her occupational specialty. Lieutenant Colonel Lidres Adame, from Démira, was a Field Officer who oversaw the airmen in battle. Lt. Co. Adame also specialized in chemistry and alchemy. He was a prideful towering man, who enjoyed lecturing about the philosophical elements of chemical warfare. The most revered component of his modules was to physically expose the cadets to different chemical agents. Every 1st year cadet was enthusiastic or horrified to take his class.
Five days after the ball classes were assigned and set. One foggy morning, Alpha squad congregated just outside the chemistry lab in their school uniforms. The males wore burgundy short-sleeved collar shirts and blue slacks, and the females wore burgundy short-sleeved collar shirts with pleated blue skirts. Savoi used a special key code, granted only to fellow chemists, to open the entryway doors. Yoshida was the first to walk inside the lab. His demeanor was calm, but slightly irritated. Roudan and Shevchenko trailed behind, as Farouk slowly crept in. His face was flushed, and he appeared teary-eyed. When they all sat down at their desks, the room was notably tense. Everyone gazed at Yoshida with a penetrating stare. He tried to ignore them, but Savoi popped him on the shoulder.
“What’s the matter with him?” she asked as she nodded towards Farouk.
Yoshida shrugged his shoulders and sighed, “Beats me. I don’t know what happened to Mousey.”
Shevchenko arose from her chair.
“You happened to him,” she belted.
Roudan tried to calm her back to her seat and shot Yoshida a death glance showing that he should be remorseful. Yoshida sighed once again. His reluctance only seemed to fuel more wrath from Shevchenko. Savoi instantly sided with her roommate, even though she did not know exactly what had transpired from breakfast in the chow hall to their walk down to the chemistry lab.
Time was closing in on them, as class was soon to begin. There were rumors that Lt. Co. Adame was rigid and callous as an instructor. Any signs of weakness noted by a squad could equate to a tremendous amount of suffering for everyone. Roudan got up from his seat and pulled Yoshida to the back of the lab. Heated, hushed whispers turned to wild laughter. Their amusement was interrupted when Shevchenko slammed her lab books on the desk. Farouk gently patted her arm.
“It’s alright. Let’s just forget about the whole thing,” he said.
Shevchenko tightened her jawline and glared from across the room.
“We shall not,” she said.
Roudan lightly jabbed Yoshida’s stomach. They both knew that Shevchenko would not back down soon. He walked over to Farouk and signaled for him to stand. They stood in silence for several minutes.
“Ahem,” Roudan coughed loudly from across the room.
Savoi nudged Yoshida and asked, “Don’t you have something to say?”
Yoshida looked at her with a blank expression on his face. He studied her eyes and watched how she peered at him with anticipation. She knew nothing about why Farouk had been offended. Yoshida gulped thinking on her imminent disappointment for his role in their squabble. Shevchenko interrupted his train of thought with an impatient sigh. Yoshida gripped Farouk by the shoulders and looked him square in the eyes.
“My bad, Mous—,” he began, then looked over at Savoi. “I’m sorry, Maaz. I didn’t mean any harm. Plus, I thought she was a cute girl, and you’d like her if you gave it a chance,” he said with a slight grin.
Savoi tilted her head as she tried to make sense of Yoshida’s faux apology to Farouk. She remembered the two of them talking to a red-headed female cadet from the Charlie squad, but had made little of it.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,” Shevchenko interjected and darted her eyes to Roudan.
Roudan vigorously shook his hands at her in surrender. Farouk snatched away from Yoshida and trembled. His labored breathing would not conceal his frustration.
“This isn’t about me, Haru. This is about your low moral code,” he stammered. “I didn’t ask you to set me up with anyone. Just because you and Roudan have nightly parades with a barrage of women in our barracks doesn’t mean that I want to join in,” Farouk insisted.
Savoi’s mouth dropped open. Her combined astonishment and fury caused Yoshida to retrieve Farouk’s arm.
“Maaz, don’t be like that. In my defense, we were only trying to include you,” Yoshida replied.
Roudan could not resist a snicker at Yoshida’s weak cover. He quickly recovered once he realized he had been implicated as a culprit as well. Before anyone else spoke, Lt. Co. Adame entered the lab. He donned a blue chemical resistant MOPP jumpsuit and protective headgear. No sooner than he cleared his throat did everyone return to their assigned seats to wait for instructions.
With a jovial sigh, he belted through his microphone piece, “Today is a very important day for you 1st year cadets. This day will forever be ingrained in your memory. Look to your left and right. What you see is the makeup of Alpha squad. Each of you worked hard individually and collectively to get to where you are. You have already begun understanding and learning from each other. We can all say that we know how you all got here. What you will see and learn today is why you all are here. From there, you will need to reconcile whether you will die for your comrade-in-arms.”

~The Waring Robins~

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