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A pale blue light, familiar, gentle, whisks me towards the right direction. Where is he? Not left, nor right. I open my eyes. Grasping tightly to my gunblade weapon, I initiate the well-developed attack targeting the object behind me.
“Not bad at all” I hear my professor say, a rare compliment, “your training is starting to pay off--soon you’ll be ready for your first mission.” This catches me by surprise, as I remember learning that the average age for the first mission is 25. That’s 4 years ahead. “Hey, don’t give me that look; you’re well ahead of your class at the academy. Don’t let yourself doubt.” the old man continues, “That is, unless I misjudged you, and you are in fact not ready—in that case…” Seeing my indignant expression, he halts. “Very well then, that’s enough practice for today. Report to the Council Hall tomorrow morning for your task.”
A few seconds later, I stand here with an odd sensation that feels like a jumble of disbelief and bewilderment, unable to comprehend what has just happened. Talk about short notice! How was I to know that I would be going on my first mission, tomorrow? Crazy old geezer. If I die, it’s totally his fault.
Well, it’s tomorrow. Last night was one of those nights where you stare at the ceiling trying to force yourself asleep, but that never works, and it feels like the universe is trying to sabotage your happiness. Just wonderful. I hurriedly equip my battle armor, meticulously picking out the correct gear that will ensure a success. Content with my selection, I head towards the Council Hall. During that short walk, my mind starts to fill with hesitation.
What kind of mission will it be? And why so early?
I’m still inexperienced, so what if I fail?
I arrive at the enormous portal to the hall. To an outsider, it looks like nothing more than a random, giant door standing up in the middle of nowhere. But I knew better. Feigning confidence, I step in to meet my fate.
“You’re late. We’ve been expecting you.” Booms a voice, resounding through the vast room.
“My apologies.” I reply, “It won’t happen again”
“Fine. Here’s your mission: you will journey to the Kingdom of Hearts, and serve as our spy. As you’re well aware, we, the Kingdom of Khaos, are secretly planning to wage war against their empire. Your role is crucial to the success of our invasion. Don’t fail.” instructs the voice. “You’re dismissed.”
Once I leave the portal, I’m greeted by my professor, who gives me the details of my assignment, “Wear this pendant. It’s been treated by the old ways of magick and will enable us to see and hear everything that is going on. Now, all you have left to do is recite the ancient incantation and you will be immediately transported to the Heart Empire. Good luck.”
Quietly, but surely, I whisper the peculiar language that has been engrained in my head, “traiceret me ad cor imperium”
And for a moment, existence ceases. My mind goes blank.
I wake up to find myself in front of the military academy of the Kingdom of Hearts. My eyes blink to try and adjust to the blinding colors.
What’s up with this? You call this a military academy? It’s like a rainbow threw up!
As a child, I was always taught that the Heart Empire was an annoying place filled with preppy people covered in ignorance and with no will to be educated about what was going on in the world. We were told never to go there, because if we did, we would surely become ignorant ourselves.
Putting all personal feelings aside, I enter the gates and into their main office. Wearing one of those pretend smiles, I fabricate an explanation of why I want to enroll in their school, and how much I’ve been dying to participate in their stellar academic program. To my surprise, they bought it. I show them my fake Heart Empire I.D., given to me by the professor. And before I know it, I’m in.
Some guy gives me a tour of building, but I’ve never been good with names--in fact, I forgot his the second after he introduced himself. Soon enough, I’m shown to my room. Content with my progress, I let out a sigh of relief. Now, all I have left to do is attend class, and gather information. I look down at my watch, and realize that it’s getting late. I turn off the lights. It’s been a long day.
I awake to the sound of an obnoxious beeping alarm clock--it must have been pre-installed into the room. I rummage through the closet to find a new set of the school uniform. After getting dressed, I go through my morning routine, and report to my first class: close combat training. After a few minutes of listening to the generic chattering of classmates, the coach enters. “Good morning class, today we have a new student, Zelmari. I take it she’s not too familiar with close combat training since she just enrolled yesterday. I hope you will all work to help her catch up with the rest of the class.”
Heh. ‘Not to familiar’? Yeah right--you just wait.
“Today, we’ll be working in groups of four.” The coach drones on, “We need to practice teamwork, so we will have a combat competition between teams. You have approximately ten minutes to get in groups and come up with a strategy. Start now.”
And within a moment’s notice, the class divides into its cliques.
“Hey new girl, over here!” I turn around to see a group of three people, one of whom is waving in my direction. I walk over to my new teammates. “Hey, how are ya? Name’s Tidus.” says a blond guy, and then he points to the other two, “This is Cloud and Tifa.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Zelmari.”
Then, I realize that this is the perfect opportunity to gather information: “So I’ve read a lot about our military system, but I still feel kind of clueless. Since I’m a bit of a rookie, mind filling me in on our current military state?”
“Sure thing! Hmm..well, there’s rumor of a planned invasion from the Khaos Kingdom…” Tidus says.
They know about the invasion?!
“But it’s not for sure.” he continues, “Personally, I would be okay with it. Political unrest between our kingdom and theirs has been going on for ages. They’ve always treated us as a nuisance, and looked down upon us. But more importantly, they are savage when it comes to warfare. They have no concept of honor, and will break all bonds in order to achieve their goal, as has been demonstrated in the past.”
I had never thought of it that way. But looking back at the history of the Khaos Empire, this might just be true. But, I wasn’t ready to give up on what I’ve worked so hard for. Even if our ways were ‘savage’, I was ready to give up my life in the name of my kingdom. But what surprised me was the amount that this guy knew. These people weren’t the ignorant little sissies that they were portrayed to be in the Kingdom of Khaos. Things starting to get strange.
Suddenly, there was announcement made on the school speaker, “A prisoner has just escaped. He is a war criminal from the Kingdom of Khaos, and is easy to spot. If anyone sees him, please stop him or report it to the authority.”
I look around to see what all the fuss is about. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot the glint of Khaos battle armor. Stunned, I’m unsure of how to act. Should I help him escape? I can’t afford to blow my cover. Should I fight him?
“I’ll fight you!” Tidus challenges the Khaos soldier.
Stupid boy, according to the soldier’s battle uniform, this guy is exceptionally high ranked. I want to stop him, but I bite my tongue.
Tidus continues speaking, “We of the Heart Kingdom will no longer back down or run away. If anyone here wishes to fight alongside me, say I.” To my astonishment, a chorus of I’s were heard. Everyone in the class was in; this was something that would never have happened in the Khaos Kingdom. In order to maintain my cover, I had no choice but to participate.
The students charge towards the soldier, but the all of their attacks are in vain.
This guy is good. In one swift movement, he knocks out half of the class. And it seems his next target is me. He shoots an arrow made of pure dark magick. Unwilling to fight against my own kin, I do nothing.
In an instant, there’s someone between me and the arrow. It’s Cloud, one of the students in my group. She’s hit. Baffled, I run over. “What the hell was that for?” I shouted.
“Allies are allies. Here in the Heart Kingdom, we lay our lives down for our own kind. You’re no exception.” she murmurs.
Then, the Khaos soldier speaks, “You’re pathetic. You should have just saved yourself. This is the weakness of the Heart people.”
“That’s enough” I hear myself say, “You... are a disgrace to the Khaos kingdom.”
It was about time I snapped. Ashamed of my own origins, I found myself longing to be part of the strong willed Heart people. I drew my gunblade.
Sword clashed. Bullets fired. Blood spilled. This guy had muscle, but no skill. Brute force wasn’t enough to take me down. I combined everything I had learned about the Khaos manner of fighting, and hurled it back.
And when the time came, my blade pierced through the heart of that which I once held so dear.