2nd Year, P. 2

There was little time for celebratory merits from the land navigation exam. Rigorous core training continued seamlessly. One of the training exercises comprised service on the Arms Guard in the artillery room. General Benavides took it upon himself to approach Roudan during his service. The cadets had been on duty for nearly 24 hours. Roudan was exhausted, and his uniform was disheveled. He perked up and stood at attention once he saw the senior officer come down the corridor.

Benavides smirked at the gesture. Without hesitation, he commanded, “At ease, soldier.” He pulled out a cigar. Roudan once again declined his offer to take one. The General quickly lit the cigar and took a long drag. After he exhaled, he continued to speak. “As you are aware, the kingdom remains in turmoil at this very hour. The war is far from over. Over half the 3rd year cadets have been deployed to stop the damage. Even with our best intelligence unit at the fold, there is little grasp of what the future holds as far as the war is concerned.”

Roudan’s eye twitched with discontent as he tucked the back of his dress shirt further inside his trousers. He was unsure how to respond, so he remained silent. Benavides nodded through a spaced-out gaze. “I haven’t forgotten how skilled you are at tactical reasoning. You will serve the academy and kingdom well when you whip your squad into shape. Everyone is counting on your success,” he said.

Roudan dimly smiled. He wondered if the same pressure had been placed on his uncle and brother during their enrollment at Calvary academy. He also wondered if General Benavides had forgiven their trespasses, since he had not mentioned it at all. One thing he knew for certain; all eyes would be watching his every maneuver as Skull Leader and captain of the coveted Alpha squad. It was imperative that he help them shine to become the best defense against the dueling houses.

An hour later, the night watch completed their shift. Roudan returned to the barracks just before sunrise. Farouk was still asleep, while Yoshida slumped in the lounge chair.

“What’s got you beat?” Roudan asked as he unbuttoned his dress shirt.

Yoshida let out a long sign, which turned into a yawn.

“Thomasa stood me up,” he answered.

Roudan sifted through his laundry bag to find a fresh pair of shorts, but turned intuitively and chuckled.

“I didn’t know you guys had a date. Is she finally ready to give you some play?”

Yoshida promptly flung a pillow back at him, which woke Farouk.

“Thomasa isn’t that kind of girl,” Farouk whined.

Yoshida leapt up and belted, “It wasn’t an actual date, you dolts!”

Roudan held his arms out in surrender.

“I was just kidding. We know she is a good girl. Which is why I wondered what she would be doing with the likes of you?” he said.

Yoshida walked over to his clothes hamper and found a clean pair of shorts, which he loaned to Roudan.

“Morphology. I figured since Thomasa aced the Land Navigation exam so easily, she’d give me a few pointers,” he said.

Roudan and Farouk looked crossly at each other.

“Why didn’t you just ask Lily?” Roudan asked.

Farouk crawled out of bed and pulled some clean socks from his dresser draw for Roudan.

“Yeah, linguistics is her field specialty,” he interjected.

Yoshida paused for a moment, then scoffed.

“True, but Lily is often monotonous with her delivery. The last time she took point on our study sessions, I nearly failed the Semantics exam because she bored me to sleep.”

Roudan shook his head to keep from cracking up.

“She’s not that dry.”

The trio briefly looked at each other in silence, then burst into an eruption of laughter.

Roudan collected the articles of borrowed clothing and paced about the room to look for his shower shoes.

“Well, where was Thomasa? Why didn’t she meet you to study?” he asked.

Farouk reached inside the lounge chair cushion and pulled out one of Roudan’s shoes.

“I saw her head to the lab with that Molvik fellow,” he said.

Yoshida lifted a pillow from Roudan’s cot to retrieve the other shoe.

“That knucklehead Molvik demands her time often. It’s like she’s at his beckoning call or something.”

“Molvik. Molvik. Why does that name ring a bell?” Roudan asked.

Yoshida handed him a clean towel and replied, “That’s because you beat up his younger brother the night of the Entrance ball.”

Roudan gathered his belongings and headed for the door.

“Oh yeah, that Delta dog! He sure was an ugly mutt. I wonder whatever became of him and his flea-bitten crew?”

“Most of the Delta squad bottomed out and were recycled. His older brother is a 3rd year in the Bravo squad,” Farouk answered as he handed Roudan a bar of soap. With his hands already full, there was no place for the soap to go.

Yoshida mindlessly stuffed the soap in Roudan’s pants pocket.

“Well, the older brother can’t be all that great. Especially since he wasn’t selected to deploy with his class of 3rd year cadets. I can’t imagine what Thomasa sees in him,” he scowled.

Roudan departed for the shower rack. The topic of Molvik, the 3rd year Bravo who hadn’t deployed with his class, weighed on him heavily. He was reminded of General Benavides’s demand that the Alpha squad rise above their current standing. This would be no easy feat.

~The Waring Robins~

A Battle Within

With all the grains of salt I’ve collected through the years, I’ll need more than a shot of tequila to take this one down.

The benefit of experience;
Having the right perspective is far better than any fantasy realm. That way you know what is real and what is fiction.

I exposed far much more of my soul to him than I intended, without realizing he had not intended to be the recipient.

Damn. I stand here with a smile before you, but really he has wounded me to the core. If I were to walk away there would be a trail of blood to follow behind me.

~The Waring Robins~

1st Year Part 8 (con)

Savoi smiled knowingly at Farouk.

“Maaz is right. Lily has endured nearly all our memories. She witnessed the bad and the ugly. We owe it to her, as fellow squad mates, to regard hers.”

Yoshida took in a deep sigh, then finally turned his attention towards Shevchenko. It occurred to him that whilst he was amid pleading his case to Savoi, Shevchenko’s memory was still in motion… yet she was not.

“How long has she been standing there in the same spot?” he asked.

“For at least nine different dance songs,” Farouk answered.

Yoshida stepped closer to Shevchenko to examine her disposition. With a tilt of his head, he said, “Tulle certainly seems to be her go-to ballroom attire. Didn’t she wear something similar at the induction ball?”

Savoi rashly interjected.

“There’s nothing wrong with tulle. My mum said it was all the rage for debutantes.”

“Yeah, if you were born thirty years ago,” Yoshida cynically replied.

Savoi instantly jabbed him in the side.

“Hush, now. Her dress is perfectly fine and looks nothing like the one she wore at the induction ball. I think the color was maroon,” she said.

“Burgundy,” Roudan cavalierly interrupted.

The rest of the team noticed he appeared smitten, as he stood next to Shevchenko. They were not unfamiliar with that notion, but this time Roudan did not bother to hide his feelings. He had often morphed into a love-struck kitten in her presence, but her cold shoulder snapped him back into the fearless leader he truly was. His gaze was interrupted by a few uncontrollable giggles from Yoshida. Savoi darted a chilling glance that caused both men to regain composure.

Farouk had no choice but to diffuse the tension among them.

“I feel sorry for Lily. Did she really attend these events just to stand in one place all evening?”

Yoshida walked around the room to escape Savoi’s intense glare.

“Certainly not. These preposterous coming-out parties were invented as marriage proposal ceremonies. Vapid men and women attend to be swooped off their feet, or in no uncertain terms, to form valuable financial alliances among each other. The biggest problem is that it may seem like there are a lot of attendees, but the circle is extremely small. Most of everyone here is not-so-distant blood relatives. The practices of the elites are frowned upon throughout the kingdom,” he answered.

Moments later, the conductor of the orchestra turned to address the address. He was a short, bald man, who appeared to have excess skin drooping through his ill-fitting tuxedo. The microphone stand was far taller than him, and it took several orchestra members to put down their instruments and help pull the stand to his mouth level. After several minutes of awful sound feed through the mic, he could speak.

“Honored guest; the Shevchenko family warmly thanks you for attending the season’s final cotillion. We hope this evening was profitable for many of you. Thank you, once again, and good night.”

As the attendees cleared the room, all the chandelier and candelabra lights were switched off to a natural light. The guest appeared to have a sickly, pale-green complexion. Apparently, the former lights were infused with an altering ultraviolet beam to conceal the effects of a population who had blocked off the sunlight for over twenty years.

Once the room had emptied, all that remained were cadet Shevchenko and five others who resembled her enough to conclude that they were her family. The male was attractive and could have been in his late fifties, but his complexion and slumped posture made him seem older. The woman who stood beside him wore enough to make-up to doctor her otherwise sickly appearance. She donned a blonde wig, which had shifted to reveal patchy grey strands of hair. Two other blonde women in matching topaz gowns stood beside them, and they both appeared to keep somewhat of a youthful glow. The elder woman appeared ancient. Though she wore a majestic magenta ballgown with jewels fit for a queen, she did not bother to play along with the hiding her condition. She had patches of silver hair beneath a golden tiara.

“Come hither, Lilya,” her father called sternly to her.

With a loud gulp, Shevchenko finally relieved her position, which is the same spot she stood in for the duration of the ball.

“I take it this evening did not manifest the results we’d all hoped for?” her father asked.

Shevchenko did not respond, but teared up when the other girls giggled loudly. Her father sighed without an ounce of empathy towards her.

“Speak up, daughter!” her mother demanded.

“No need to shout, mother. It’s obvious that our tragically inclined sister did not meet her match,” one of the young women interjected as she fidgeted with a large diamond wedding ring.

“She didn’t even dance all night,” the other blurted with a smirk.

“This is unacceptable! I am Viscount Leopold Shevchenko. My family has been a part of the elite for centuries. We are members of the high-aristocrat society, mainly through our abilities to gain successful marital alliances with other nobles. Your mother, Titania, and I worked tirelessly to ensure your older sisters followed traditions down to the letter. Their marriages have kept a steady stream of revenue for our fortune. It’s time that you followed suit,” her father said.

The elder woman hobbled over to Shevchenko and pinched her on the arm.

“A candle which burns slow causes everything to linger. You mustn’t sit idly while your family clings on for dear life to our livelihood,” she said sharply before she fell into a brief coughing fit.

Shevchenko squealed but withheld her tears.

Her father wasted no time in continuing his tirade.

~The Waring Robins~

1st Year, p. 7 (con.)

The Alpha squad moved to an old-style dojo where a group of adolescent boys, donned in traditional black and white Hakama uniforms, practiced aikido. There, young Yoshida was among the group.
“His hair must’ve always long with frosted white tips,” Savoi noted.
Roudan chuckled.
“He’s such a serious lad, isn’t he? Look how focused he is compared to the other boys,” he said.
 Suddenly, an entourage of eight men in business suits walked into the dojo. Their formation was four in front and four behind. Between them was a man dressed in a vintage black kimono with a red Komodo dragon embellished on the backside.
“That man in the center must be Haru’s father. He is the grandnephew of the legendary shogun,” Farouk called out, before Roudan muffled his mouth.
 The dojo Master, who was an elderly man with long white hair tied in a braid, called everyone to attention, then they all bowed at the important man. Once the formal bows were acknowledged, the dojo Master commanded Yoshida and an older boy to the center of the room. The Master gave a final command, and the boys began a sparring match.
“Look at Haru go,” Savoi beamed.
Yoshida and his opponent danced in a contactless circle for several minutes. The older boy became frustrated at Yoshida’s swift speed.
“This is hardly what I’d call an exciting match,” Shevchenko scoffed.
“I totally expected more from him,” Farouk chimed in.
“He’s toying with the older guy. A perfectly sound maneuver for any fighter worth his salt,” Roudan interjected. “Now pipe down; you just might learn something.”
Yoshida’s father gruffly nodded at the dojo master, then commanded his bodyguards to walk away.
“Enough!” the dojo master shouted.
Yoshida stopped in his tracks once he realized his father was displeased. The older boy used the opportunity to grab his wrist. Yoshida twirled his body around and behind his opponent. With his free hand, he jabbed the older boy in the neck and kicked his legs from beneath him. The maneuvers happened fast, and the older boy could not get off the mat after that. All of this was to no avail, as Yoshida’s father continued to leave the dojo.
The dojo master called the boys to attention, and they all bowed in reverence. Yoshida ran after his father in haste. He caught up to the black stretch limousine before the driver started the engine.
Out of breath, Yoshida called out, “Oto-san. I won!”
Yoshida’s father rolled the window down just enough to peer at his son.
“As you should. I expect nothing less from you,” he dryly replied.
Yoshida bowed as the driver started the engine.
“Oto-san, you came to see me. May I ask why?” he asked.
Yoshida’s father sighed.
“Ah, yes. I am going away on business for several months. Twelve, at the most. You should not look for any contact or communication from me during this time. I have placed a detail security to look after you in my stead,” he said.
Yoshida reached a hand in the window.
“Will my mother come to see me?” he asked.
Yoshida’s father cackled.
“Your mother was a courtesan. She enjoyed her life very much. The only reason I married her is because she produced me a strong son. Her affairs are her own, just as mine are my own. You should lose the sentiment that she will ever come to see you.”
Yoshida quickly removed his hand out of the window as it rolled up, and the limo sped away. His saddened demeanor was interrupted when a short and stubby boy dressed in a tattered tunic with shorts came from around the corner.
“Don’t tell me you’re gonna stand there and cry, now that your rich daddy has left you on the curb,” the boy laughed.
Yoshida released a few sniffles, then turned to the boy with cheerfulness.
“Watanabe, you always know what to say,” he replied.
Watanabe threw a playful jab, which Yoshida promptly blocked.
“Well, you know what they say; with a friend like me, you’ll never need enemies,” he said.
Suddenly, a silver sedan crept up the street. Yoshida grabbed Watanabe’s arm and darted down a nearby alley. The boys climbed a fire escape of a tall building, then leapt across the rooftops of three more. Once Yoshida knew they had lost the sedan, he stopped running.
“What was that all about?” Watanabe panted.
Yoshida grinned as he caught his breath.
“That was just my security detail. I don’t know why my father insists on giving me the worst of his flock,” he answered.
Watanabe gasped.
“Why did we run from them? Aren’t we gonna get into big trouble?”
Yoshida patted his friend’s shoulder.
“Don’t worry. Those losers would never report to my father that they lost me in a high-speed chase.” With a wink, he continued. “My father would actually be proud of my accomplishment, though he’d never say so out loud. His jerk crew, however, would probably lose their feet, hands, or eyes.”
Watanabe’s eyes grew as big as saucers. He stood frozen in terror.
Yoshida snapped his fingers repeatedly.
“Hey, snap out of it. I was just joking.”
Watanabe blinked and cracked a smile.
The boys snickered for several minutes before Yoshida said, “Let’s go to your house.”
Watanabe scratched his head and replied, “Sure, but why can’t we ever go to your big and fancy house?”
 Yoshida scoffed. “It’s more like a museum than a house. Dozens of rooms filled with ancient antiques. My father is always gone away on business trips. I haven’t seen my mother since I was three years old, and that was by accident when she came to demand a bigger allowance. There is no laughter or love where I live. Only misery and loneliness. That’s why we go to your house. It might be small, but your mother makes the best udon noodles ever, and your baby sister is delightful.”
Watanabe smiled.
“Well, alright then. Just know that if my father found out the shogun’s family was in our home every night, he’d have a heart attack.”
Yoshida wrapped his arm around Watanabe as they walked towards a door to exit the roof.
“It’s a good thing he works in the Red-Light District and keeps his jade shop opened all night,” he said.

~The Waring Robins~

Theatrics of a Wiser Fool

I fell in love with a beautiful lie
The premise seemed promising
The attention and affection seemed perfectly timed
I decided to intentionally dismiss the discrepancies in favor of hope
The truth was always there
My heart and passion hurried through the blurred lines
Now I know for certain that a figment of my imagination was fed with sweetness
What is easily given is even easier to take away
The coldness from withdrawal left me inconsolable
How funny is it that I’ve been beating on a stone wall that had nothing behind it all along
My openness and raw emotions were preyed upon
Now I feel like a wiser fool
That is what happens when one sits too close to the stage
The magic no longer has a stronghold because all the flaws are fully displayed
I got caught off guard, caught up in my feelings, and played
What a dreadful experience indeed

Things We Don’t Talk About

Things we don’t talk about

Make no mistake;; no ALWAYS means NO
Whether it is stated once or a thousand times
I am an adult and can admit that there are some occasions where there’s room for negotiations
Repeated, adamant, pleading NO means just that
When I was younger, I made excuses
Now that I’m older
Assault is ASSAULT
I cannot get past the sinister satisfaction in their eyes when they’re being begged to STOP
PLEASE holds no water
The friendliness and kindness go out the window
Dignity is stripped away with your clothes
Panic, fear, and disbelief take over
Not fight or flight
A sense of helplessness
Abuse of power is ABUSE
It was then, as it is now

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly

Catch Me in Love

Catch me in love

Don’t think I fell
I was pushed

Shut my eyes tight
Afraid of view

You spoke past my flesh
Right through to my spirit

Asked me right out did I believe I’d fall again
I cried to you the wounds of a former pain

Never dreamed about a place where I wouldn’t have to beg
Faintly remembering all the good things in life I deserve

No matter how short the time
You’ve awakened my nature

I feel fortunate and blessed for the ride
No longer scared to fly