Also, this is the end of the first volume! Kudos to Junnynam, MadTix and Masadeer!
Editor: MadTix & Masadeer
The miners and soldiers who were held hostage in the Azoran Solar System, and the unrelated Replicant recruit platoon now saved!
“These journalists really do write their articles with their feet. I can’t believe they wrote ‘unrelated Replicant recruit platoon’.”
I shook my head while reading the news off the portable terminal strapped to my wrist.
If the headline wasn’t weird enough, its content was even weirder. There were lines such as ‘the Fourth Platoon of the Military Academy was no different to discount coupons to a bankrupt pizza shop’ or ‘the Replicants made no difference to the battle’ brazenly obvious on the official military report news.
I turned off the terminal and looked in the mirror. There stood a slim apprentice, dressed in a full dress uniform. Mm, this is me. I really do look good in a full dress uniform if I say so myself.
My feats in the battle had to remain a secret to hide our identities. My acts of defeating the Diablo and rescuing the Bravo squad were both medal-worthy achievements, but they will not remain on the official records.
However, surviving during the battle was enough to warrant all of us a badge. The Department of Defence came to that decision and presented the most worthless badge of the Federation, the Badge of Meritorious Service Third-Class.
So now, I had to change into a full dress uniform for the ceremony but I was getting changed in the Platoon Leader’s office in the academy because there were no mirrors in recruits’ rooms.
Tch. To think I would have to experience the shame of getting changed into my full dress uniform just to receive a third-rate badge.
Back in the days when I was still a Vice Admiral, managers of the Department of Human Resources or Department of Troop Information and Education used to tremble in fear when they awarded me with something like a third-rate badge.
The adviser for the Department of Troop Information and Education in the General Staff, who happened to be my senior during our military academy days, even apologized to me once with some luxury hotel vouchers and expensive wine sets, for awarding me with such a measly badge.
I also did not attend the ceremony to receive the badge or even the pre-ceremony. When the badge arrived at a later date by mail, I pinned it on my French bulldog’s clothes.
Some advisers for the Department of Defence often visited my house with some beer and chicken whenever there was a soccer game or a fighting match, and they were shocked to see the badge on my dog’s clothes.
‘Why did you do that? Why! You should’ve given it to me!’
Is what they would say in their drunk minds, and this was what I would always reply to them.
‘My dog has been getting obese as of late. So I put it on him so he could exercise.’
… I used to be like that, didn’t I.
But now I am just an Apprentice no matter how one looks at me. I should be overjoyed to be receiving something like a third-rate Badge of Meritorious Service.
Actually, I was quite happy.
I wasn’t very happy about the badge, but I loved the commission and the month long holiday that came with the badge.
I had no holidays during my days as the Commander of Dawn Corps. I did rest when I had the leisure to, but I had to rush straight out onto the battle during an emergency—even if I was being treated for having my guts destroyed, limbs cut off, and skull crushed or my eyes popped out, and board the Dawnbringer to fight. Because I was in a position of great responsibility!
But being a foot soldier is great! No responsibilities! Wow, how exciting!
“Lezirth. Could you… do my tie please? I don’t know how to tie one.”
Admiral Luise knocked on the door and spoke embarrassedly. I stepped outside and saw her blushing while waiting outside.
“I have never tied one before.”
The female soldiers’ full dress uniform included a string tie, but she didn’t seem to know how to tie one.
Then again, she did skip all soldier training and became an officer and continued to rise without stopping. Officer full dress uniforms were mandarin collar button types, so why did the soldiers have to wear ties?
“Umm, please hold on for a bit. I’ve always tied them for myself, but never for others, so…”
I went behind her back and tied the tie that way. Admiral Luise leaned on my arm for a moment. Her soft brown hair touched me.
“Lezirth, you know how we have a month long holiday when we receive the badge? But we have no home to go to…”
That’s right. If we leave the military barracks for the holidays, we would be homeless. We could always stay at the barracks, but that was too pitiful. Spending the holidays eating and sleeping at the barracks. Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the holidays at a hotel at some holiday resorts?
“Why don’t we use some of the commission or the reward for services? Since this is a paid holiday, we shouldn’t have to stay homeless, even though it won’t be a luxurious one.”
“Hmm, but umm… I want you to listen to this without misunderstanding. Don’t you think we can save some accommodation fees… if we share the same accommodation? Going on trips as a packaged deal… would be cheaper as well.”
Admiral Luise’s face turned bright red after she said that.
“Is there something that you would like to buy after saving the accommodation fees? But, d-don’t you think it would be dangerous for a male and a female to share the same accommodation?”
“I-It will be OK. I trust you, Lezirth. You wouldn’t do something that would upset me, would you Lezirth? Right?”
She clenched her hands into a fist and looked up at me.
Hmm, I would like to readjust her tie to make both sides even now that I tied it, but… Admiral Luise was looking at me with such a desperate look. Her brown hair and golden eyes were reminiscent of a cat. I felt like I was being sucked into her clear and beautiful eyes, that would be a rare colour for a human.
Ehh… so I will be spending a month with this girl under the same roof? I-I had no intentions of doing anything rude to Admiral Luise, but it really disheartened me if she trusted me to this extent when I was a man.
“I-I would never do something that the Admiral would disapprove of!”
I smiled and saluted her, and Admiral Luise laughed.
“But you disobeyed my plea and charged into the dangerous battle! And you still continue to call me an Admiral… you really have a bad personality, Lezirth. But I’ll trust you again.”
“B-But you shouldn’t trust a man so easily. It would leave a bad mark on your fame if others see you like this.”
“But our budget for the trip will be so tight. Ah, a double bed is cheaper than the twin option. Should I book the double size?”
Huh? What did she just say?
Hold on. Twin beds are when two beds are set separately, and the double size was just a single large bed, isn’t it? Or was it the other way around? I was suddenly overwhelmed with the confusion between the two simple terminologies.
How many beds are there in a double bed? And how many beds are there in a twin bed? If there’s a single bed, then should I sleep on the floor or the sofa? Or maybe…?
Gestalt! Gestalt overload!
“Ehh? You already chose a destination without even consulting me? And wait, a double bed?!”
“Hii? W-Will you do something to me when we g-go on the trip together?”
Tears gathered in her eyes and Admiral Luise looked up me, about to burst into tears. She looked betrayed, or just disappointed in me.
“No way! I wouldn’t!”
“Then I can book the double bed. Great. Fufu.”
She quickly spun around like she expected it.
What kind of logic is this?! Wait, it does seem to be right in a logical sense, but something’s not right!
Gestalt overload again!
I was greatly confused. I think I just heard a ‘fufufu, I am the final victor, you thieving cats!’ just now, but it must’ve been my imagination, right?
Then suddenly, the office door opened.
“Are you ready yet?”
Ensign Meihowa and Sergeant Aroha walked in. Both of them were dressed in the full dress uniforms. Officer’s and petty officer’s uniforms respectively, but they also wore a long sword by their side. Both of them wore mandarin collar uniforms: the officer’s uniform was navy blue, and the petty officer’s was aquamarine in colour.
Hoo? The girls appeared to be quite bold and dashing in those military uniforms.
“By the way, Lezirth and Luise, both of you don’t have a house to go back to, do you?”
“That’s why this big sis here prepared something great for us.”
Sergeant Aroha took out paper envelopes from her uniform. Seeing that there’s a travel agent’s logo on the envelope, maybe it’s some flight tickets or accommodation or even travel prize set?
“Ta-da~ it’s tickets for Airtel. Travel tickets and hotel tickets in one! My sister works at the general affairs department of a general trading company, so she gets a lot of mileage points. And I secured four tickets for us all! What do you think? Aren’t you grateful? You may praise me, Pereira Aroha! Ohohohoho!”
Sergeant Aroha formed a fan from the envelopes and fanned herself.
“Ohh, I praise you and worship you.”
Ensign Meihowa mimicked some bowing actions. Seeing the usually serious soldier like her acting like that made me unconsciously smile. However, Admiral Luise’s expression stiffened when she saw that.
“Ah… hahahaha. I just finished booking our trip, so what can we do? What a pity.”
However, the hologram terminal had not yet finalized the payment. Sergeant Aroha caught a sight of that and quickly exchanged glances with Ensign Meihowa.
“Let’s stop her.”
“N-No! Don’t come near me! Stop it! Kyaa! Help me! Lezirth!”
Ensign Meihowa and Sergeant Aroha leapt at Admiral Luise and stopped her from registering the trip.
I saw the girls acting like that and drew a sign of the cross before me.
“I’m sorry. I would rather fight a corps of Letix Predators than try to stop them.”
◊ ◊ ◊
We were transported to the Epiece-2 Retired Servicemen Hall, where the ceremony was being held, on a shuttle bus. Everyone who survived the recent event were all smartly dressed in full dress uniform and they recognised and greeted us when we stepped onto the bus. Ensign Meihowa and Sergeant Aroha were busy responding back to all those salutes.
The badge awarding ceremony was conducted in a very rapid fashion.
These ceremonies were usually carried out very solemnly. Also, many of the Ursa Major Brigade members died in battle and many of the soldiers from the mining base did not survive. It was only obvious for a city-state to honour the survivors with utmost respect.
However, the members of our platoon were not considered to be citizens of the city-state.
As a result, we received the badges from some bald, yawning, Lieutenant Commander who claimed to be the secretary of the advisor at the Department of Troop Information and Education, First Headquarters.
While we were receiving those medals, surviving Ursa Major Brigade members were participating in the funeral and the badge awarding ceremony at the Epiece President Convention Centre with the ‘human citizens’.
Well, who cares about a cheap badge like this? The holiday and the commission was my true goal, anyway. Now then, is it time to kick back and enjoy the holidays?
“How are ya gonna spend the holidays, man? I’m gonna play all the online games that I had to give up on, ya know? Wanna join me? I can level up your characters crazy fast for ya?”
Pencolt asked me as he sat next to me on the bus. This guy had turned into quite a handsome fellow after losing so much weight from the training and the operation. A normal human’s skin would’ve become saggy after a sudden loss of weight, but he was perfectly fine—most likely because of Replicant properties.
“No, I will probably go to the Critic system where they have hot springs, ski resorts and tropical beaches.”
“Ohh! It’s quite expensive over there. Ya rich boy! Well I guess it can’t be helped. Tch, who are ya goin’ with?”
“Probably with the Ensign, Sergeant and Luise…”
Before I could even finish my sentence, someone kicked the back of my seat.
“Damn it! This guy’s sweeping away all of the beauties in our platoon.”
“The battle in the Oden system should worsen so that the holiday gets cut short!”
Some soldiers seated in front of me cursed. Why did these guys hate me so much? It won’t only be my holiday that gets cut short, you know? All of yours will get cut short as well.
Meanwhile, Admiral Luise, who was crushed by Ensign Meihowa and Sergeant Aroha, was sitting at the back of the bus, by the window seat, with her arms crossed and was pouting while going ‘hmph!’ or ‘pht!’ or ‘tch!’.
Sergeant Aroha and Ensign Meihowa were sitting next to her.
“Hey, come on Luise. You can save your holiday fees and go shopping instead. Shopping.”
“I want to buy this, but what do you think? Do you think it would suit me?”
Sergeant Aroha used the hologram feature on the portable personal terminal to visualize an image of her holding a handbag in her hand. Ensign Meihowa knit her brows.
“It wouldn’t suit you in a full dress uniform.”
“Handbags would obviously not go well with military uniforms.”
“Sergeant has red hair and blue eyes, so…. what about this?”
“No way, this looks too mature.”
The girls were instantly caught up in chattering over the shopping catalogue. Admiral Luise was also caught up in the flow and forgot that she was angry.
Whew, what a relief. It was a relief for now, but I was worried that a tempest would occur when they, or rather we, go shopping.
I looked outside the window, deep in my thoughts. Then suddenly, something strange flashed past my eyes.
A girl with long, blue hair was standing by a streetlamp. But her hair wasn’t just long. Her hair was so long, it made me wonder whether it wouldn’t bother her with everyday chores.
Thinking that I was just seeing things, I opened my eyes wide and stared at the girl. Then suddenly, the girl’s lips moved.
I could only see the movements of her lips without hearing what she was saying, but I knew what she was saying instantly.
‘Good morning Lezirth. Long time no see. Did you sleep well for the last 120 years?’
That was what she said.
Then suddenly, something flashed before my eyes.
Only she and I remained in the middle of the empty universe. And around us were stars, stars, stars…
A great sea of stars!
‘Lezirth… do not abandon me. I have waited for you for such a long time. A lot longer than you may think.’
I could hear her voice. Her voice that echoed inside my head was soft and desperate, yet shook my brain like thunder.
I extended my head outside in surprise and looked at the streetlamp that the bus just passed. However, the girl was nowhere in sight. Were my eyes playing tricks on me?
“What are you doing!”
A car on the other side of the road swore at me as it drove past. I quickly tucked my head back inside to avoid the car.
Was it because I was feeling fatigued? I think it’s because I was injured after piloting the Alter-Armour after such a long time. I should be okay after the month long holiday.
I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes, anticipating about the holiday. It was quite fulfilling to be the shield of the Human-Race and the Commander of Dawn Corps, but this foot soldier’s life was not all that bad.
But above all, I was looking forward to the holiday.