The day for the exams came, and just like everyone else Luon couldn’t help but feel worried about it. He thought that he didn’t study enough despite putting in so much effort towards it, and he was worried that he overstudied unnecessary segments for his examinations.
Generally, with his status, they would have promoted him, but the ranking system isn’t evaluated by capability. Instead, it was determined by war merits. If Luon had participated in a combat oriented 3rd-year program then it would have been a different story, they would have been allowed to promote him to a small platoon leader.
His actions at the survival training camp and Alliance tournament made the military view him in a more positive light, but there was nothing they could do for him. Luon needed to battle against real Inzektors that weren’t managed by the government system to be promoted, and the war against Inzektors is going to be more different than fighting incubated ones.
His examinations were divided into 3 segments that all happened consecutively, one after another. The first one he had was engineering, which is followed by commanding, and finally actual combat.
The venue for the examination was loud because there were many third-year students Luon was delegated to the 13th venue, at that location Luon could see around 100 students that didn’t seem familiar to him in any way as they were from different classes. The only reason he could tell was from the badge they had on their chest.
Luon looked at the time and found that he was still quite early, he had an hour left before his examination starts. To calm his nerves, he decided to eat at a cafe next to the venue until it was time to start. As Luon pushed open the doors, he found the devastating scene of every table occupied with students who were studying with their papers spread all over the desk. The waitress went up to Luon and said, “I’m sorry, as you can see we’re quite full here.”
Luon gave a quick sigh and turned around as he intended to leave, but just before he could the waitress suddenly recalled something and asked, “Wait… aren’t you the person that fought during the third match against Dragon’s Lair?”
Hearing her notice who he was he couldn’t help but feel surprised since it has been nearly a year since the event. Luon had didn’t have many redeeming features as everyone in the latest generation was aesthetically appealing, and since he never aired on any forms of media, it was surprising that people could still recall who he was. In fact, unless one had observed the final match, it was difficult to remember people like Luon, Tyron, Bendan and the others as advertisers had been raving about Janet, Arisa, Shizuka, and Zythos due to their companies marketing strategy.
He turned to take a good look at the girl, and he found that she was unfamiliar to him. She had long black hair that was tied up in ponytail fashion and wore a maid uniform that matches the proportions of her body as if it was custom made. The design of the uniform resembled the maid cafes that he experienced in his first simulated life, only instead of having short skirts and sleeves they were replaced with a long sleeve and a medium size skirt with golden trims to represent the school.
Most food stations are self-serve nowadays. However, catering still exists as the job of a maid helps relieve the mental stress of their customers. It also provides the students who work there an extra method of earning Galaxia coins.
Luon quickly took a glance at the other girls and found that there clothing was exclusively made to fit their characteristics.
The waitress gave a light cough and said, “I didn’t expect that you would be so lewd, as expected, men will always be men. Anyways, since your here then you must be here to meet up with one of your teammates, is that correct?”
‘Someone else is here?’ Luon was surprised at her remark as grew curious if someone he knew was still taking their remaining time to study in the cafe. To the waitress, Luon said, “Yes, please lead the way then.”
The waitress looked at Luon and realized that he was lying about having a prearranged meeting, but noticed that he was curious about the person she just explained. Being able to read the atmosphere, and with a mischevious smile, she led him all the way to the table as there was no harm in them meeting.
Luon was surprised to see an unfamiliar face, but after pondering for a second, he recognizes that the girl in front of him was Belle. She wasn’t studying like how all the other people were doing. Instead, she was dining normally like what a reasonable person would do at a cafe. She ordered a salad, a cup of coffee with toast, bacon, and eggs on the side.
Just as she finished the salad, she looked up and saw Luon staring right at her with a stupefied expression, and that was when she noticed something.
Her eyepatch was currently off as her two bell-like blue eyes stared at Luon with curiosity, and on top of that, she was wearing the regular school uniform and not some gothic lolita fashion version she wore all of the time. Belle was currently in incognito mode, realizing this she quickly cast a quick spell and shrouded her body with dark mana and after it dissipated she was back in her regular state that Luon was all familiar with.
The maid during this time completely vanished as she could read the mood, and by the time Luon noticed the atmosphere turn sour he tried to escape. But before he could Belle lightly tapped his shoulder and said, “Oh my, Luon where are you hurrying off too? I have some breakfast with your name on it. Come, sit down and enjoy yourself.”
Under normal circumstances, Luon would be overjoyed by the offer, free breakfast with a friend at the cafe who would want to reject it? However, after seeing what Belle looked like in incognito mode, he wanted to leave as quickly as possible as he didn’t know how she would react.
He sat down in front of her and started to stuff himself away at the food to forget of the sight he had just seen as well as ignoring Belle, but despite his efforts, her words still rang within his mind. “So did you see it?”
His ears twitched instinctively as it picked up the message that he desperately tried to reject, in his mind, he bellowed, ‘Darn ears!’
Thanatos couldn’t help but shake his head and said, “Lad, just listen to what she has to say if she wanted to kill you than she would have already done so.”
Luon tried to listen to Belle according to Thanatos’s instruction since he had more experienced with women if one had to compare between the two lifetimes
Luon gave her a nod, and after confirming that Luon had heard her, she said, “Then what you saw just now, was just an illusion, a dream, and nothing more.”
Luon nodded once more and which she replied, “Good, now down to business, why are you here before your examination started?”
“Why can’t I be here before the exams? Can’t I just come in and eat just like you?” Luon questioned her.
“Then why’d you come to my table when I’m eating,” said Belle as she was dissatisfied with his answer.
“Well the maid brought me here, and there was no other table open for business…” Luon words wandered off for a bit.
Belle who noticed the situation and gave a sigh as she said, “Then go ahead and eat, I’ll wait a bit beside you before my examination starts.”
“Are we in the same venue? Does that mean we’ll have to go against each other?” Luon asks out of curiosity as he finishes up his meal.
Belle shook her head as she said, “I don’t know if we are in the same venue or not, but that shouldn’t matter. The engineering exams are completed in reality while the rest of them use a simulation that is done in the Vortex Container that the school provided to prevent cheaters. Even if we were in the same venue, it’s not guaranteed that we have to compete with each other. That and I’m not in engineering, so the chances are rather slim.”
“Really? I didn’t know that” Luon said as he had only studied the previous examinations subjects, and had forgotten to look into the basic instructions on how the exams are outlined.
Looking at the current time, Belle said, “Isn’t it time for your examination to start? You should get going soon.”
Luon used his BMPU and found that there were only a few minutes before his first examination would start, and if he were to leave now, then there was still a minute or two as a buffer remaining. Luon got up and said, “Thanks for the meal and good luck with your examinations.”
Belle gave a wry smile and said, “Of course, I got to watch out for my future subordinates after all.”
Her words surprised him as he asked, “Future subordinate? Does that mean you joined the military as well?”
“Of course I did, my father’s a general, after all, it only makes sense to do so. Plus I didn’t have any lofty goals anyways, so the military seems to fit for me,” Belle said.
“Then how’d you know I’ll be your subordinate?” Luon frowned at the thought that she would take the lead of the squadron he had yet to be arranged in. He didn’t know how good her ability to lead was since he had only seen Arisa take care of everything for her team.
“Why, with my connections of course. If I can tell if you applied to the military, then wouldn’t I be able to move you to my squadron? Don’t worry its better for the both of us” Belle said.
“What’s the merit of having me in your squad? Couldn’t you just pull elites from elsewhere?” Luon said.
“Let’s just say trust isn’t something that can be forged by military ranks, I trust you, and I believe that you would trust me. I would do anything to increase our survivability rate,” Belle said.
Luon felt a strange feeling when she mentioned the survivability rate of soldiers, from what he read online there was an average of 10% chance of dying on the first battlefield for new soldiers.
He only gave her a nod before saying, “Well then take care of me when the time comes then.”
Luon left towards his examinations leaving Belle alone at the cafe. Seeing him go she said, “Kiri.”
The maid that had led Luon to the table appeared out of nowhere and said, “Yes, master.”
“What was your intention by bringing him in here?” Belle’s expression went cold as her real personality was exposed by her own subordinate.
Kiri gave a quick bow as she said, “Trust is important if you have kept your real personality hidden from him… how could you expect him to trust you when the time comes for it? You do know what the real Inzektors are like.”
Belle gave a quick nod as she said, “Although trust is important my appearance should be irrelevant. You shouldn’t have exposed me like that as it was an unnecessary move.”
“On the contrary miss, it is important, after all the only reason why you wear this kind of clothing and an eye patch with an awkward personality is to hide your insecurity,” Kiri said.
“Insecurity? You may be right about that… but-” Belle pondered for a second before responding to Kiri.
“Miss, it’s been five years since your awakening, and after you did, instead of going to school right away your father brought you the battlefield to see the horrors of what the Inzektors can bring. You know how important trust is more than everyone else,” Kiri said as she interrupted Belle’s speech.
“Yes, I know, but I wasn’t alone. You were always with me, and that’s all I need,” Belle said.
“I will always be willing, but a war isn’t fought by oneself. You need more allies milady, and Luon is a good candidate. You know this already though. Kiri cleared off the dishes from the table in an instant as she said these words.
“Alright, alright, I understand. Also, I don’t wear these to hide my insecurity. I wear it because I like it. Let me ask you this, why are you wearing a wig and a maid uniform like this?” Belle asked curiously.
“It’s my hobby,” Kiri replied bluntly.
“Well this is mine as well, and I hope that after we begin our military expedition, I would be able to continue it,” Belle said as she stood up and gave a light twirl, she couldn’t help but admire the clothing.
“Miss it’s normal to take actions that may increase our survivability rate, come let’s go finish our examinations now. I have another official doing the investigation into the top candidates of these upcoming exams. Let’s not worry about it for now,” Kiri said.
“Good work, then let’s go,” Belle said. The two left the cafe, Kiri hoped that Luon and Belle’s meeting would help increase their survivability rate even by a single percent in some shape or form because the unofficial survivability rate of soldiers first expedition, was only 50%.
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