1st Year, P. 6 (con.)

The emcee egged the audience on. When the screams reached a heightened pitch, he finally chimed in.
“Now, it’s about time I give you what you’ve all been waiting for. This beautiful beast needs no introduction, but the at the very least I can say his name. In the right corner, I give you The Cobra!”
The crowd roared and hissed like a snake. Roudan hopped off the stool and pranced around the arena.
“Clearly Emmett is favored among this pack of wild animals,” Shevchenko hollered.
Yoshida cheered along with the audience. His childlike enthusiasm was a stark change from the normal nonchalant mannerism. Savoi cheered along as well, but placed her hand over her heart. She looked like a proud but fretful mother at a performance. Farouk also bought into the excitement.
“I’ve got to give it to him. He certainly has flare,” he said.
Roudan and his opponent stepped to the center of the rink and waited for instructions from a referee. The men shook hands before they returned to their respected areas. With the ring of a bell, the fight began.
The opponents squared off in the center of the ring. The Wolf was at least five years older than Roudan. His demeanor was confident. He sized Roudan’s slender build against his bulk, and determined that it would be an easy win. Roudan was not fazed by the Wolf’s smug dance around him. The audience simmered with anticipation as they waited to see who would make the first move. 
Minds were blown when Roudan dodged The Wolf’s left hook, and countered with a quick jab to his throat. This move disrupted the Wolf’s rhythm. Toucan followed with a round kick to his stomach. Cheers and jeers flooded the warehouse. Yoshida spiritedly whistled along with Roudan’s fans.  
“I like this man’s style: pull all the punches, render no mercy,” he said. 
Roudan’s aggressive timing for each blow kept the Wolf in a constant state of agony. He wooed the audience with an under hook, which allowed him to body slam the Wolf onto the mat. Shevchenko’s smirk of wicked satisfaction could not be concealed by the dim lights.  
“Emmett is absolutely amazing in there,” she gushed. 
Savoi beamed a knowing smile at her, as she was also impressed. Shevchenko quickly retracted her smirk, not intending to appear smitten. Tension shifted and the hungry crowd hissed at the Wolf’s fans. Farouk joined in with pleasure. 
“Finish him,” Yoshida called out. 
Roudan’s final move was a ground strike. He used maximum force to take his opponent out. The Wolf laid lifeless on the mat, while a referee shoved Roudan back to his corner of the ring. Dead silence swept over the warehouse when a team of medics rushed in to examine the injured party. After several minutes of deliberation, the Wolf was unconscious. The emcee blurted over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen; we have a winner of this match. I give you The Cobra!”
An enthusiastic stampede ensued as the audience pushed their way through the ring to get to Roudan. He was rushed back to the locker room. Yoshida encouraged the team to follow suit. They elbowed and clawed their way to catch up to their teammate. Inside the tiny locker room, Roudan was met by two well-groomed men who both looked exactly like him in appearance. Their blonde hair, fair skin, and green eyes left no room to doubt that they were of the same kin.
Roudan greeted the men with long hugs, then sat on a metal bench. One man wore a blue 3-piece suit, and the other wore black. The man in blue brought a towel over to dry Roudan’s face.
“Well done, nephew,” he said, then massaged Roudan’s shoulders.
Roudan sighed heavily with the towel wrapped around his head.
“Thank you, Uncle Victor,” he sobbed.
The man in black brought a thermos to Roudan. The men fretfully looked at each other. Everyone from the Alpha squad was stunned to see Roudan in such a state, especially after his savage victory against the Wolf only minutes ago. All the machismo and arrogance that he was known for at the academy was nowhere to be found. His somber mood caused alarm.
The man in blue unwrapped the towel from Roudan’s face and looked him in the eyes.
“Nephew, you mustn’t allow our news to sour your spirit. You had us worried when you threatened to call off the fight earlier. I’m glad that we could see you this one last time. You fought hard like the champion you are,” he said.
Roudan’s uncontrollable sobs became louder. Savoi was moved by his pain. She knew it stemmed from something deeper than the few strikes the Wolf could land. Farouk placed his arm around her shoulder while she silently wept.
The man in blue spoke again.
“Nephew, please understand this necessary evil. Your brother and I are doing what is best for everyone. Our home state, La’Montre, is roughly 400,000 miles from the old capital of Soleste, Nerou. When the first war of the two houses took place, La’Montre was immediately sacked after the fall of the capital. Many of the lower nobles joined the Lesser House to ensure their properties and interests would not be adversely affected. Nearly all the cities of La’Montre were known as industrial commerce hubs. The smallest rural farmlands were run by the lowest level of nobles who lost every well-abled body to the infantry line.”
Roudan glared at his uncle, unconvinced that he was being consoled.
Victor smiled and continued.
“A combination of severe droughts, heavy land taxes, and lack of manpower played a role in the nationwide deterioration of each state. The Roudan family has overseen farmlands in La’Montre for twelve generations. With me being the eldest current heir, I’ve become the property executor. I feel passionate about protecting our homeland from the clutches of the two houses. Many of my peers supported the Lesser House, to which I vehemently oppose. Therefore, I’ve enrolled at Calvary Academy to become an officer and serve as an engineer specialist. I have also relinquished my role as executor to my younger brother, your father, Emilio.”
The man in the black suit opened the thermos and poured a clear liquid into the cup. He took a sip, then handed the cup to Roudan.
“Drink up, little brother. This is a celebration, not a funeral,” he said.
Roudan sipped his drink with both eyes closed. He winced as if he had consumed poison.
“Yuck! Emille, why would you bring me father’s whiskey?” he asked.
Yoshida cackled. “Ha! This must be long before Emmett a lush.” He elbowed Farouk in the side and said, “He’s the only person I know who can drink me under the table.”
Emille snatched the cup from his brother and poured more whiskey. He teased Roudan by offering him another sip. Roudan slightly shoved his brother’s hand away, so Emille offered the cup to Victor. Roudan dabbed his face with the towel, then clasped it to his chest. His somberness seemed to lift once the whiskey kicked in.
“What does father have to say about any of this?” he asked.
Emille shook his head.
“What can he say at this point? He was always hard on me. I was seven years old when you were born, and he didn’t change. If it weren’t for Uncle Victor, we wouldn’t know how to function properly in society,” he replied.
“You lads should go easier on your father. Emilio has had a tremendous amount of strain working the lands that the commoners had to abandon for the infantry line,” Victor chimed in.
Emille poured another shot of whiskey for himself.
“Father has never taken the time to appreciate who we have become as men. Like Uncle Victor, I opposed to pledge support to the Lesser House. It was also my choice to enroll with Uncle Victor at the academy. Emmett has enjoyed life as a moderately successful underground MMA Fighter. He will have to give that all up once our father demands him to attend to the family duties. I can only imagine how father will lash out at him in response for our sins,” he said.
The men hugged each other with a tearful final goodbye. Roudan’s memories shifted over to him being sought after by ten different MMA Fight promoters for new matches. He declined each offer to begin his duties of overseeing the twelve massive properties own by the Roudan family. Most of the farmlands produced very little profit. His daunting efforts to salvage as much as possible seemed in vain.
“This long war has had an adverse effect on so many lives,” Savoi said.
Yoshida nodded in agreement, as they watched Roudan transform from the wild and free youthful boxer to a hardened young man. Even Shevchenko seemed to take a more empathetic stance in her opinion of him.
“I wish things could have been different,” she replied.
Roudan’s memories went black briefly before he was seen standing in front of a small brick stone manor. An officer, with the rank of Major, stood beside him and handed him a letter. He read the letter out loud.
“Victor and Emille Roudan were assigned to the Charlie squad at Calvary Academy. During their 3-year stint at Calvary Academy, both the Greater and Lesser Houses called a ceasefire. General Benavides warned the graduating classes of cadets that this was not an end to the war. Benavides had concerns, which he advised the Tribunal Council. To his dismay, he was correct in his assertions. The day after graduation, bombs blasted once again all over the Kingdom. Charlie squad was sent on a reconnaissance mission shortly after. A report came to the Tribunal Council that during the mission 2nd Lieutenants Victor and Emille Roudan were seen fleeing the pinnacle of action after an ambush by the Greater House knights. The officers were confirmed dead by General Benavides, though their bodies were confiscated by the knights.”
Roudan crumbled the letter and wept. An elder man with the same blonde hair and green eyes came out of the manor.
“No need to weep for the dead. What’s done is done,” he said.
The Major addressed the elder man.
“Emilio Roudan, I am here to advise you that your report date to Calvary Academy is pending. You will have 30 days to complete a full physical and mental evaluation, which will determine your position as a replacement for your brother and son.”
Emilio clutched his chest.
“Impossible! You drag me into that bloody massacre while I am embroiled in massive amounts of debt because of a decline in harvested crops. How is this fair?”
The Major looked at the younger Roudan and smirked.
“Both of you seem well able to report for duty. It makes no difference to me which of you should go,” he said as he walked away.
Emilio watched his son weep bitter tears and scoffed.
“Your tears are meaningless here. Victor and Emille were dead to me when they left us to drown in misery. We could have found some support with the Lesser House, but they refused to listen to logic. Look at them now; written off as scandalous cowards by the Great General Benavides, and the laughingstock of the highly acclaimed Calvary Academy. This damn war has been cruel to all of us. After your mother shriveled up and died from whatever infectious disease claimed her life, it has been a burden for me to find a reason not to put a bullet in my head. Today, I know there are none. I suggest you do the same.”
Emilio left Roudan standing alone. Five minutes later, a gunshot was heard from inside the manor. Roudan dropped to his knees, then laid on the bare ground in the fetal position.

~The Waring Robins~

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