A loud swishing sound sent the Alpha squad through another tunnel of light. They were thrusted onto a marble floor within a golden grand ball room. The walls were decorated with yellow, green, and purple flags to represent the statehood of Dorsea. Through the large windows, the encasing of a giant bubble was visible in the distance. The swishing sounds turned into melodic rhythms from an orchestra. Several hundred men and women dressed in the finest ballroom attire danced about. Not even seven feet away from where the Alpha squad landed, awkwardly stood Lilya Shevchenko.
She wore a fitting tulle yellow gown, with daisies and tulips embroidered within the satin fabric, and hoop skirt. Her fine blonde hair was tucked in a French roll, bedazzled with a gemstone comb. There seemed to be no age gap in this memory, as she appeared roughly the same age of eighteen as when she enrolled at the academy. Noticeably, she had removed her left glove and bit her nails.
Men and women passed by her with scornful glances, but none ever asked her for a dance. Her eyes watered up from time to time, as a new song was played by the orchestra. Though the room was filled with laughter and romance, Shevchenko may as well have been at a funeral. She remained stoic. Once the orchestra took respite, she allowed herself the pleasure of a small sugar biscuit and seltzer wine.
Yoshida stood next to Savoi and attempted to take her hand. After all, they had been so familiar for most of the duration of the class experiment. He was stunned when she denied his unspoken request, and instead walked through the crowd to examine their clothing up close. He broke away from the team to follow her.
“Thomasa, please wait,” he called to her.
She stood on the side of the dancefloor, beside two gentlemen who embraced each other fondly as lovers. A harsh sigh of irritation was the only acknowledgement she offered Yoshida. Still, he insisted on having a conversation with her about his past.
“Are they really going to do this now, during Lily’s backstory?” Farouk scowled.
“I suppose so. In case you missed the memo, Haru cares nothing for the aristocrats. Right now, his main concern is whether Thomasa hates him for selling all those weapons to the Lesser House,” he answered.
“True. I can see now why he was worried about showing us his past. It really was that bad,” Farouk replied.
Yoshida followed Savoi around the dancefloor, then out on the balcony where she was cornered. She fixed her gaze on the skyline, which was dulled by the film of the encased bubble. She leaned her head forward to look down at the surrounding area.
“I wish there was a breeze. I imagine the magic bubble was meant to keep toxins out, but also nature’s design,” she sighed.
Yoshida shook his head.
“That stupid bubble was built with depravity in mind, and absolutely unnecessary to begin with,” he said.
Savoi looked at him disappointedly and said, “This is war. Elements of depravity are absolutely necessary for survival. You, of all people, should understand that.”
Yoshida was struck by her coldness. Their past fallouts had been overcome with a mutual affection for one another. This time, her usual tenderness was replaced with an icy temperament. He reached for her hand again, but declined in fear that she would recoil from him.
“I’m sure you despise my actions, but no more than I do myself,” he said.
“I certainly do,” she interjected. Her attempt to hide the tremble in her voice was defeated with a single tear down her cheek. She broke into a full onset of grief and cried. “What you did was nothing short of disgraceful. You supplied a massive number of weapons to the Lesser House. I know you were just trying to get back at your father for what happened to Hinna and the Watanabe household, but that was the worst way. To think that my papa would have suffered had he reported to the infantry line, and the thousands of others who actually did. It grieves me deeply.”
Yoshida steadied himself, then grabbed Savoi’s hand. To his relief, she did not turn away. She instead allowed him to hold her. He muttered in her ear.
“There is no excuse for what I did. None of those treacheries would’ve revived Hinna back to life, or restored Jiro’s faith in me as a friend. What you need to know is that the memory I showed to you in my father’s study was to reveal his plans. Those papers he studied were contracts. He planned to trade those weapons with the Greater House in exchange for protection. His armory was always meant for evil. I beat him to the punch. What I did was no better.”
She looked up at him in shock at his confession.
“At least you enrolled in the academy to make amends,” she said.
He sighed and turned her loose.
“Initially, I enrolled because I was being blackmailed by Guitterez. My Gokudō family was at risk of being charged with war crimes. I had to protect them, since I was the one who supplied the catalogue of weapons.”
Once the orchestra resumed, Savoi snapped out of her somber mode and rushed away to return to the squad. Yoshida followed closely, grasping for her arms as much as possible.
“Thomasa, will you please stop! We are not finished,” he demanded.
Savoi shuffled past a couple of dancers, then bumped into Farouk. She curtsied for a quick apology and continued on her way to find Shevchenko. Ironically, the girl had not moved an inch from the time her memory sequence began. Her face expressed a hint of sadness, but the rest of her body language held the same apathetic manner.
Yoshida finally clasped Savoi’s arm and spun her around to face him.
“Do you hate me that much now? Can you not even look me in the eye?” he asked.
Savoi ceased any resistance. She pondered his question. Thoughtfully, she replied, “I don’t hate you. There’s just a lot to unpack with all that you’ve revealed. I’m uncertain of my feelings just now. I will tell you something that I know; it was the last thing my mum told me. She told me not to despise meager beginnings. I imagine in your case, I cannot fault you for your past misdeeds. You will make things right by helping us stop the dueling houses and end this war. I can look at you with a clean slate from here on out.”
Yoshida sighed with relief, but still wanted to be certain she was being truthful.
“Look me in the eye then, if that’s how you truly feel,” he said.
With a still body, Savoi looked at him. Her big brown eyes were clearer than ever. He noticed her pupils were fully dilated, which he remembered a biology professor’s claim that this was a sign of physical attraction. He was familiar with that look. Many girls and women gazed at him with the same attention. This gave him a great sense of satisfaction. However, Savoi seemed to look right through him. He felt the core of his soul being called to become every bit as good as she believed in him. A heavy wave of guilt crashed over him, and he look away from her.
Roudan and Farouk approached them with apprehension. Yoshida stiffened at their presence.
“Have either of you lost faith in me as a teammate?” he asked gruffly.
Farouk nodded his head and smiled. Roudan placed his arm on Yoshida’s shoulder.
“There’s no judgement from me. We all have to make amends here. Some of us just have a further way to go.” He said.
The two men shook hands in agreement. Laughed wildly at Yoshida, Roudan, and Savoi. Then he said, “Now that you three love birds have that settled, can we please pay attention to Lily? We need to see whatever it is she’s trying to tell us about her past and why she enrolled at Calvary Academy.”
~The Waring Robins~