Entrance Exam P. 2

Approximately six feet away from where the men were, Cadet Shevchenko watched them listlessly. Their striking physiques stood out as their half-donned wetsuits hung around their waists. She was startled when Cadet Savoi playfully wrapped an arm around her neck.
“Not a bad view, eh?” she whispered.
Shevchenko’s whole body stiffened, mortified that it was obvious she had been ogling.
“Nothing wrong with admiring beauty when you see it. Tall, svelte, and handsome hunks like them will definitely help make the days of training go by fast,” Savoi teased.
Shevchenko tried to ease away, but Savoi’s grip was stronger than she expected.
“Check out the pretty boy with the frosted white tips. I heard a founding General rescued him from the Gokudō gang,” Savoi revealed with a hint of mischief.
Shevchenko turned to her in horror.
“Seriously? How could this prestigious academy even consider enrolling a common street thug? The Gokudō are nothing but thieving murderers,” she said.
Savoi chuckled and tightened her grip around Shevchenko’s neck.
“Oh, come now. They all can’t be that bad. Mostly, it makes sense for him to be here. Who else would be better equipped to fight off the dueling houses than someone well versed in ruthless violence?” she answered.
Shevchenko relaxed her body as she pondered Savoi’s truthful statement.
Savoi released her arm from Shevchenko’s neck and framed her hands to place Yoshida in her view.
“That large Komodo dragon tattoo is inked from his neck, chest, and waist. It looks as if it travels further down. I’d sure like a peek,” she said.
Shevchenko cut her eyes at Savoi, but was also curious about the tattoo. She smirked in agreement along with Savoi.
Faruk was no less than two feet away from the girls, crouched over a black backpack. He had unintentionally eavesdropped on them and overheard Yoshida and Roudan’s conversation. It was apparent to him that neither party was particularly focused on the task at hand, which was to prepare for the exercise. He shook his head in disbelief that they both were so crass during such a time.
Roudan took notice that he and Yoshida were being watched by the girls. He grinned and nudged Yoshida’s arm. They both returned mischievous smirks towards the girls. Shevchenko withdrew her smile, but Savoi became embolden and grabbed her by the hand to drag her over to them. This gave Roudan and Yoshida the green light to approach the girls as well. The four cadets faced off, with Faruk crouched in the middle.
“Hello ladies,” Roudan said. His eyes shifted on Shevchenko.
“Hello guys,” Savoi chimed eagerly, then quick-jabbed Shevchenko in the rib.
Shevchenko jumped in surprise. “Ouch! What did you do—”
Savoi jabbed her again and winked.
Shevchenko nodded shyly and said, “Hello.”
Yoshida gruffly cleared his throat, as he felt slighted from not being acknowledged.
“Hello girls. You made the right to decision to come this way,’ he said.
Savoi squinted her eyes curiously and asked, “What makes you say that?”
Yoshida’s arrogance oozed over his smirk.
“Well, we can protect you from harm,” he answered in a smug tone.
Shevchenko sighed heavily and rolled eyes. Her disapproving scowl caused Roudan to smack Yoshida’s arm.
“My battle buddy and I can surely handle whatever arises. Perhaps you should be thanking us for coming to rescue you!” Savoi snapped.
Yoshida licked his lips, as he was surprised by her objection.
He peered at her at her name badge printed on the right breast of her wetsuit.
“Your confidence is reassuring, Sav-oy,” he replied.
Shevchenko and Savoi glanced at each and snickered.
“My name is pronounced Sav-wah. You must be unfamiliar with national cultural studies.” She pulled the top portion of his wetsuit to his chest and read his name badge. “Cadet Yoshida, surely you know it will take far more than brawn to excel in this academy,” Savoi taunted.
Dumbfounded, Yoshida and Roudan glared at each other. Moments later,  computerized vocals spoke over the intercom.
“Please be prepared; war simulation will begin in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”
Without further warning, an earsplitting sonic boom blasted the dome. Laser flares fired from every direction, which caused all the cadets to scurry about with covered ears. The dome shook relentlessly for several minutes. Then, a huge shock wave descended through the water and brought in a tidal wave. Everything inside the dome was submerged underwater.  

The Waring Robins, Ch. 10

Entrance Exam (p.1)

Well before sunrise, the new recruits stood in formation inside a domed gymnasium. Far above their heads, a skylight glass ceiling revealed the starry night. Each cadet was determined to remain motionless as their bloodshot eyes surveyed the dimly lit space. Approximately 32 large backpacks were scattered about the sand-covered concrete deck, which lead to a pool. The pool flowed out to an opening in the bay’s dome area of the ocean.
The air was balmy and damp, with only a light breeze to soothe them. After a few moments of dead silence, Benavides commanded their attention by speaking through an intercom.
“Good morning, cadets. It is my honor to welcome you to the Calvary Academy’s entrance exam. You will be expected to complete a series of obstacles, puzzles, and time-sensitive exercises all under the guise of a combat simulation.”
The cadets murmured in astonishment. 
“I am required to inform you of the caveat about injuries. No life-threatening injuries should occur, as you were all thoroughly examined by our physician to meet the physical standards for enrollment.” Benavides continued to speak through the louder murmurs. “I bid you the best of luck in this endeavor.”
Without warning, the announcements concluded. The cadets were left standing dazed and confused. The only thing that made sense was the reason they were commanded to don swim wear. All the males wore black speedos, while females had one-piece bathing suits. Ensign Tibideaux led the other instructors into the dome. The instructors came to deliver full body wetsuits to the cadets.
The cadets eagerly dressed themselves to prepare for the exam. Some of them huddled together to discuss the latest happenings. Cadet Shevchenko quickly clothed herself, as she watched a group of female recruits chatter amongst themselves.
“Check out the island girl,” a scrawny girl with chestnut-colored hair snickered.
“I imagine she barely passed the body fat index standard with those child-bearing hips,” a freckled-faced girl chimed in.
Shevchenko knew they were poking fun of the same girl who was her bunk mate the evening before. The appearance and background of the female cadet from Intagua Island was a hot topic since they all had arrived at the academy. Everything from her long multi-colored braids to the rumor that she had been hand-picked to enroll by one of Calvary Academy’s founding Generals had been debated heatedly. 
On the other side of the gym, the males huddled together. Roudan and Yoshida stood with their arms folded, as their wetsuits leisurely hung around their waists.
“Get a load of the talent in here,” Yoshida said with a smirk.
Roudan scanned the room until his eyes locked in on the flock of females directly in front of them. He nudged Yoshida to stare in that direction, but they were interrupted by aimless cadet Faruk, blocking their field of view.
“Hey buddy; unless you were doused in that bio-shield chemical to make yourself invisible, scram!” Yoshida belted.
Faruk timidly shuffled his feet through the sand to move out of the way.
Yoshida and Roudan continued to gawk at the girls.
“What’s the verdict?” Roudan asked smugly.
Yoshida gripped his chin and squinted his eyes, as if to concentrate on a hard math equation.
“One thing is for certain, only two stand out among the rest,” he answered.
“I know what you mean,” Roudan chuckled.
Their eyes glared lustfully at both Shevchenko and Savoi.
“The only real competition is between the two of them,” Yoshida nodded.
Roudan dropped his arms and stared crossly at Yoshida.
“Now I don’t know what you mean,” he replied.
Yoshida dropped his arms, but did not take his eyes off the girls.
“In this instance, we have the island girl VS, the blonde ice princess,” he said in a serious tone, like a commentator.
Roudan sighed and returned his gaze to the girls.
“I suppose it all depends on a matter of taste,” he answered.
Yoshida smirked again, licked his lips, and said, “My palate craves the exotic goddess, rather than the streamlined aristocratic temptress.” He placed his arms out to frame the women within the view scope of his hands. “I could hardly resist voluptuously delicate curves with a pleasantly ample backside.”
“Not to mention the generous reveal of side-boob,” Roudan interjected.
The pair cackled in agreement before regaining composure as an instructor passed by.

The Waring Robins, Ch. 10
 
 

Induction

From the air shuttle, the cadets were assembled in the courtyard on the north side of the conservatory. The lush blue skyline blended with a large waterfall that cascaded down into the ocean. Every cadet swooned over the serenity of the moment, which abruptly was interrupted by several manic voices belting from loud speakers surrounding the area. A sense of panic and hysteria soon infiltrated the scene. The cadets scrambled to about to adhere to the incoherent commands barked from each direction. 
“Get in formation, you lousy pups!” an instructor bellowed.
Suddenly, General Benavides appeared and descended out of the building to walk into the melee. The cadets lined themselves in four flanks and waited for instructions. All was quiet on the set as Benavides stood at the podium in the middle of the mall and cleared his throat. He looked both regal and majestic in his heavily decorated uniform, with his red hair flailing in the cool breeze.
“Welcome to Calvary. Here we produce the finest, most efficient, and highly capable military officers to serve the kingdom of Soleste. Your education will stem from a variety of curriculum; academia, combat simulations, land navigation, and your specific military occupational specialty. Our zero-tolerance policies demand excellence in each category as a requirement for graduation. Another important aspect of your training is obedience to Calvary Academy’s guidelines. You must follow the rules and ensure your fellow cadets tow the line as well,” his voice boomed over the microphone.
The cadets whispered and murmured to each other as Benavides continued his speech.
“The first rule of Calvary Academy it prohibited to physically assault a fellow cadet, be it on campus or in the field. Sexual assault is especially forbidden. Both violations are war crimes, which can result in an immediate explosion. Each matter will be reviewed by the Tribunal Council. If any misconduct is proven, sentences can vary from being exiled out of your homeland to immediate execution. The exception, of course, is if you can prove provocation by a traitor.”
Murmurs and whispers reached a crescendo as the cadets mentally processed the stiff regulations of Calvary Academy.
Benavides gruffly cleared his throat to regain control of the audience. Once they were silent, he proceeded.
“No matter what cause brought you here today, consider us all comrades-in-arms. We are each other’s keepers. This war between the dueling houses was inevitable. The end result is clear; we must eradicate the Greater and Lesser houses to bring peace to our kingdom.”
An eruption of cheers and applause replaced dead silence. All fifteen instructors came out of the conservatory and immediately ushered the cadets inside.

The Waring Robins, Ch. 9
 
 

Blemished

Old Toyoko was furthest away from the initial impact of the dueling houses. The state remained preserved from the effects of war with a biochemical shield that kept them hidden from plain sight. Eventually, technology could not keep up, and the veil was removed after a series of bombs blasted through the exterior. Showers of ashes consistently fell from the sky and could not be resolved. The once bustling cities and country sides became vast wastelands. A dramatic turn occurred when the scientist who created the shield discovered the shield was infused with radioactive particles, which caused a pandemic of advanced aging.
Hatsuharu Yoshida was born into the prominent Kuge aristocratic class. As grandnephew to the Shogun, there was an expectation for him to assume the position when his father took deathly ill. Early on, he became disillusioned with the stifling hypocrisy of high society. Their eccentric trends segregated them from the rest of the war-torn society, but only made them to appear as an established cult. Though rumors had been repeatedly denied, the elitists were clearly in favor of the Greater House and donated substantial monetary tributes to avoid the infantry lottery. The entire state was exempted from sanction as well.
 At 10 years old, Hatsuharu rebelled against his family and joined the Gokudō gang. His father pleaded with a longtime business associate, General Guitterez, to intervene. Eight years later, his father’s hopes that the intervention would lead the wayward youth back into the family fold were dashed. The silver lining was that General Guitterez became a mentor, but convinced the boy that he would find more fulfillment with his strength and talents as a military officer. Instead of leaving the crime syndicate to return home, Hatsuharu enrolled at Calvary Academy.
 
 The Waring Robins, Ch. 8

Set Apart, Set Aside

The next state set on the brink of economic ruin was Dosea. Destroyed infrastructures. Through shared seaports with Intagua Island, the entire region to succumbed to impoverished ruin in a matter of months. Over the war, aristocratic families segregated from the rest of society. They lived on seventy acres of land, which was enclosed inside a giant bubble cloud encased with a chemical repellent of toxins. Rumors spread that funding for this encampment was largely donated from the Great House counsel.   

Viscount Leopold Shevchenko was an elite member of the high-aristocrat society, who spent his childhood immerses in lavishly eccentric cultures. His wife, Titania, was also brought up in that environment. Together, they established soiree season (formerly known as debutante balls), in which matrimonial pairs were matched to ensure wealth would remain within the establishment. The Tribunal Counsel sanctioned the elitists for not contributing men and women to serve in the armed forces to end the war.

Lilya was the middle daughter in the Shevchenko household. She vehemently opposed marriage to maintain social and economic status. Her parents did not give her a second thought, as she was never deemed alluring like her older and younger sisters. Her prospects for a suitable marriage could not be guaranteed, thus her father secretly enrolled her at Calvary Academy to cut their losses. She was cut by her father’s rash actions, but her mother insisted it was a better alternative than being shunned by any eligible bachelors.   

The Waring Robins, Ch. 7

Fiery Resolve

At the southern border of Soleste, South Praiju struggled to remain free from the toils of war. Millions of civilians died from drinking contaminated water and other unsanitary conditions brought on by the death toll. When monsoon season swiftly came in and caused further devastation to all the cities, the Tribunal Council was forced to intervene with aid. An exemption from the Infantry Lottery was enacted to preserve the surviving families. Hopes were dashed that stabilization and normalcy would return soon.
Maaz Faruk was an inquisitive young boy who wanted to follow in his deceased father’s footsteps as a military pilot. His maternal grandfather was the Sultan and mother was a highly acclaimed astrology lecturer. Most of his older siblings either worked as attendants in the royal palace, or as educators throughout the state. There was no particular expectation of young Maaz, which allowed him the freedom to choose his own path growing up.
Maaz had fallen in love with a girl named Priyah from a neighboring village. Maaz invited her to have dinner with him at his family’s compound. Priyah asked to invite her three sisters, since they had never been near the palace before. Her three sisters boasted about the event to their schoolmates, who asked to be invited as well. On the night of the dinner, twenty-five students arrived at the family’s compound. Maaz’s disappointment turned to rage as he watched the girl of his dreams leave the party early with another boy. He then climbed to the roof of his parent’s living quarters and cried, while the party down below got out of hand. In a disillusioned frenzy, he tore off his tunic and set it on fire. He returned inside to warn the uninvited guest of the fire. The guest paid him no mind until they noticed the fire roaring above. The blaze spread uncontrollably for several hours. Nearly all fourteen houses within the compound were demolished, but fortunately, no one was hurt. 
Weighed with the heavy burden of guilt about what he had done, he was inconsolable. For a brief period, he fell into a deep depression over his unrequited love and the fact that he had brought embarrassment to his family. He requested to enroll at Calvary Academy to redeem his honor. At first, his mother denied his request. She feared that his sensitive nature would not balance well with military life. The Sultan reminded her they were all facing hardships because of the ongoing war. With his family’s blessings, Maaz set his ambitions high to redeem himself in their eyes.

The Waring Robins, Ch. 6

Full Bloom

Intagua Island was the third state to falter from the war, with a devastation of famine. The central trading post for food and goods, and the naval force headed by General Malta, were established there. Nation-wide conflict deserters fled to the beaches for refuge, only to be met with a fatal chemical substance in the water. Scores of human and livestock remains piled up along the coast, as the infestation consumed the region.
Thomasa Savoi was the only child of a minor sugarcane harvester and a popular dressmaker. Her mother, Galayna, was discovered by General Malta’s new wife and asked to become a personal seamstress. Galayna did not want to leave her young daughter alone, so they permanently moved to the Malta estate. Her father, Oliver, was also requested to join them. All went well until he made a romantic pass at several female attendants. He then was dismissed back home. Oliver became bitter about being left out of such a promising future on the Malta estate, which was thousands of miles away from destruction and chaos.
Galayna was proud that her accomplishments as a seamstress brought enough acclaim that she could negotiate in her contract that Thomasa would be properly educated. She ensured her daughter was raised with knowledge of all of their traditions. The Savoi family had a long-standing history as phenomenal botanists. Before the war began, Oliver’s sugarcane plantation was the highest grossing agricultural establishment in the state.
Though General Malta spent most of her time away on deployments, she had developed a nurturing relationship with Thomasa. There were no other children on the estate during Thomasa’s formative years. General Malta’s wife tutored her in academia, while Malta herself incorporated light military tactical studies. Thomasa showed promise in both and was most enthusiastic about astronomy because it helped her cultivate land navigation skills around the estate. Thomasa displayed talents in homeopathy and also achieved high marks in academia, for which she had not received the same formal education as children of aristocrats and nobles. General Malta considered her a “gifted child,” and insisted to Galayna that she be enrolled at the Calvary Academy.
As the war raged on, each year the Infantry Lottery called every male head of household to serve on the front lines against the two houses. Thomasa’s father died from pneumonia twelve days after his name was selected from the Infantry Lottery, which meant she would serve in his place. By this time, Galayna agreed Thomasa was far too talented to serve as a mere infantryman. General Malta pulled some strings for a voucher and paid for Thomasa’s tuition to enroll at the acclaimed institution. 
 
The Waring Robins, Ch. 5
 

Family Affairs

The northern state of La’Montre was roughly 400,000 miles from 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.
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 oversaw farmlands in La’Montre. The eldest heir, Victor, became executor five years after Calvary Academy opened. He felt passionate about protecting his homeland from the clutches of the two houses at the time. Many of his peers supported the Lesser House, to which he opposed. He enrolled at Calvary Academy to become an officer and serve as an engineer specialist. Victor relinquished his role as executor to his younger brother, Emilio.
Emilio had two sons, Emille and Emmett, who helped who helped him with all business affairs. Emille was not close to his father or brother. He instead, idolized his uncle Victor. He was born at the start of the 1st war, and at twenty-five followed his uncle’s footsteps by enrolling at Calvary Academy. Together, the Roudans were noted to be the least competent of cadets. They struggled mentally, physically, and academically. It was through a sheer determination that they graduated on time with their class.
Emmett was seven years younger than Emille. Until Emille left for the academy, Emmett enjoyed life as a moderately successful underground boxer. He had to give that all up once his father demanded him to attend their family duties. Emilio grew frustrated with his younger son’s lackadaisical approach to managing their properties. This put an even greater strain on dynamics within the Roudan household. The men often bickered on matters that ranged from finances to whether they should formally pledge support to the Lesser House. Emmett vehemently opposed the idea.
Victor and Emille were assigned to the Delta squad. During their 2-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 nation. Delta 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 the Delta squad leader, though their bodies were confiscated by the knights. Word got back to Emilio, who was embroiled in massive amounts of debt because of a decline in harvested crops. The scandal of his brother’s and son’s deaths drove him to suicide. With no family or a place to call home, Emmett Roudan felt he had no other alternative but to enroll at Calvary Academy.
 
The Waring Robins, Ch. 4