“It still tastes the same, I can’t get used to it no matter how many times I’ve tried it,” Gizmo said as he plays around with his food.
“It’s not that bad. I’ve had a lot worse compared to this,” said Opo.
“Hahaha. Worse than this? I’ve also had some bad experiences too. Once you get used to eating stuff like this it’s not so bad,” said Bendan who started to eat.
‘Who would want to get used to this or something even worse…’ thought Luon as he also found the meal to be barely passable.
Unlike Gizmo, Luon and the others had long gotten used to the meals and had given up on their attempts to improve it. It’s been a few weeks, and besides the basic fitness training, they were educated on basic military equipment, maintaining a proper appearance, multiple military protocols and signs, and combat training.
Some aspects of what they learn were somewhat redundant to Luon and the others as they have covered the material at Nexus University, but for someone like Opo, it was new to him.
Opo fitted in with the team well, he was friendly and always smiling. It got to the point where Luon became dubious of how he thought most beastmen were like. The ones he had usually met were arrogant, cunning, and always tried to make themselves better no matter the consequences.
Because of how talented Opo was Luon began to doubt the criteria for admitting students in Nexus University, but after learning more about Opo’s background did he understand it. Opo, unlike everyone else Luon knew, did not go through the incubation phases in the Vortex Container.
Due to some factors such as finance and supply, he wasn’t privileged enough to be raised in one. Vortex Containers are used mainly by the middle-class families for entertainment. Numerous resources were used to maintain one’s physical capabilities and growth. The number of people who had used the incubated children service was limited due to the maintenance fees. The reason why Luon had the opportunity to be incubated was due to his father’s contribution to the military. Despite being a small figure, he served and fought against numerous Inzektors and had the fees waived for Luon.
Most students that attended Nexus University were from prominent families, or some that managed to have their child raised in the Vortex Container by their connections, and service in the military.
What the Vortex Container provides isn’t strength, but several lifetimes worth of knowledge and experience that many aren’t privileged enough to have. It was similar to how one would immerse themselves in a story as the main character, the realism is just that much better.
“But all of this ends today right? I can’t wait for the evaluation test to come up,” Gizmo enthusiastically said as he stood up from the table. He walked over and tapped Bendan’s back and said, “Are you ready for this?”
Bendan dropped his utensil on his dish and raised his hand giving Gizmo a thumbs up, and after a gulp, he said, “Of course I am ready for this, I was born ready.”
“To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about for the evaluation test. According to Belle all it does is simply evaluate if you’ve properly learned the basics to operate as a squadron. After that, we are then officially placed as full-time recruits that are on standby for orders,” said Luon after he was finished with his meal.
“Real Inzektors and managed ones, what could possibly be the difference? I doubt we’ll have a hard time when we actually get to work,” Gizmo said with confidence.
“If no one had a hard time against Inzektors then wouldn’t we have eliminated them long ago? We’ll see how it is when we actually face off against them,” said Luon. The scale of the war was massive as it involved the military forces of 16 different solar systems. For the Inzektor race to be prominent despite this, displayed that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Most of the time the battlefronts would involve defending a solar system that was being attacked or an offensive strike on one of the Inzektors claimed planets. The Alliance created a group of immigrants to settle on the planets after colonizing it, but because of the constant battles that follow afterward, they weren’t able to fully develop and claim a solar system after its creation.
“Are you guys ready to go? The evaluation is in an hour so let’s get ready,” said Belle who entered along with Kiri. Everyone had gotten used to Belle who wore her military uniform, her sudden change in personality, and the ponytail hairstyle that symbolized the transition. Her demeanor compared to before was more different. She was serious and punctual while doing her best to lead the team. Sometimes she struggled with some of the materials that they went over, but everyone helped her get used to the squad leader position.
It was easier to follow orders rather than to say them, the responsibility and value of her words was something that may have cost the life of her comrades after all.
Luon stood up and asked, “Did you figure out what is yet?”
Belle nodded as she said, “This time it’s a real-life scrimmage against other teams. We’ll be using paintball guns on a battlefield, and the objective is to either capture the enemies flag or to eliminate their entire team. Communications is done over the BMPU system. Besides the weapons, we are supplied with and the BMPU we are not allowed to use any other equipment.”
“A paintball match for the exam? How could they even evaluate us with just that?” Gizmo said as questions the material they have learned so far.
“The exam is examined in real time by judges who would score us based on our movement and organization. Not by our weaponry or strength since it isn’t necessary to do so. In fact, all of our training and combat exercises were used to evaluate whether or not we qualify to even be in the military,” Kiri pointed out.
“If you slacked off once then you would have been booted out long ago,” Belle added on.
“Anyways, it’s time to go and prepare, right? Gizmo are you going to eat that?” Bendan pointed towards his meal.
“I’ll pass. After today we’ll probably have better meals than this so I’d rather not ruin my taste buds while I still have the choice,” Gizmo said in disgust.
“You should eat it now because even after you rank up and officially become a part of the military, the meals are going to be the same. In fact, it may get worse once we get into space. The meals we have is in preparation for the event that you get stranded in space where you get to eat vacuumed packages in your spaceship,” Belle said.
“Why’d you join the military if you already know the meals are like this?” Luon asked out of curiosity.
“It’s to pay back my dad who tossed me in a Vortex Container and used all of his savings to do so. He worked several different jobs to raise me so it’s the only thing I can do to repay him,” Gizmo sighed.
“If you feel so obliged to do so then you should just eat it. It’s not that bad. Just shove it all down in one go,” Luon said.
Just before Gizmo started to deal with the atrocity before him, he said, “If the military taught me anything it would be the value of food.”
After everyone had finished fueling up, they followed Belle who led them to spacecraft where several people lined up outside.
Lin waved her hand and Belle led their team towards her.
“Aren’t you guys a little slow, isn’t it common sense to arrive a little bit earlier?” said Angela who was beside Lin.
After introducing herself the next day after she officially joined the squad she hardly talked to any of the other members besides Kiri and Belle, and even if she did speak to them, it was merely advice on how to be the squad leader.
“Line up guys. While we’re waiting for the scheduled time I’ll give you guys a short briefing on what’s going to happen,” Lin said she started to lecture them.
Seeing how she got everyone’s attention, she continued, “For this evaluation, the Fleet Commander, and several higher-ups will be acting as the judge on your ability to follow orders. Everything is recorded in real-time, and there is going to be 10 teams in total. The weapons and other necessary materials will be delivered in a box and the time limit is 48 hours. Within the next 48 hours, your team needs to score 100 points, each kill your team gets is 5 points while capturing the flag is 70 points. Do not worry about scoring 100 for now, what you need to prioritize doing is proper communication and scouting as you will still pass as long as you perform well. The objective is just an added bonus to your pay.”
GIzmo raised his hand, seeing his action Lin prompted him to speak his concerns as he asks “How much will our pay go up by?”
Lin smiled as she said, “Besides the default payment each member of your team will get 10 Galaxia coins for each point you get, and this will be applied monthly to your contract.”
‘10 Coins each point? So We’ll get 1000 Coins per 100 points? That’s the same as half of the wage in a normal job, and that’s just the added bonus,’ Luon quickly thought.
With his medal that he earned the amount was even higher. It might not be enough to have a child to stay in the Vortex Container, but it was still a significant amount considering the average wages.
The talk of many caused a series of discussion within the group, seeing this happen Lin coughed and said, “Anyways, do your best on the evaluation and take it seriously.”
“Yes!” they all said in unison, they were determined to win by a large margin.
‘I hope they can take this seriously, the other teams are no joke,’ Lin shook her head.
More and more people arrived at the venue and just before the arranged time the judges walked onto the platform to give a quick speech.
Among the judges, Luon was able to recognize some of them. Arisa and Keyral arrived and stood near the stage, they only gave Luon and others a quick wave before lining up.
“Hello new recruits, I’m sure you’re all aware of how this examination is broken down. As some of you may not know, but I’ll be the advisor to your Fleet Commander, the name’s Felia Nightwalker, and I am the Fleet Commander of the Arnox Fleet,” said the women that appeared on stage.
Her looks stole the audience’s heart, Luon had seen her once before long ago when he first arrived in this world. According to the rumors Felia had become a Fleet Commander 3 years ago after her operation on the planet Idimi, she was a famous public figure and inspiration for many soldiers and media.
“I would like to now introduce you recruits to your Fleet Commander, come up now, Arisa Nightwalker,” Felia said as she began to clap her hands.
Arisa gallantly appeared on the stage, donned with the military uniform and with her cap tapped tipped downwards she said, “Thanks for the introduction. As you all know this is an entirely new fleet that the government has been expanding for in the last few years. After this examination we will be tossed into countless battlefields, some of you may die, but as long as I am in command, I will not make your efforts in vain. I have one order for you all need to adhere by. Live, live to fight another day and never give up living.”
With Arisa’s presence on the stage, Luon’s heart began to gloom, the difference between the two became apparent. What was the difference between them? They were both intelligent and strong, yet the gap only widens, only their social status made things different. Luon let out a sigh as he tightens fist and whispers to himself, “A name for yourself, huh.”
It was the first time that Luon actually cared about something besides engineering, and books. He wanted to stand on a stage just as grand.
The speech continued on as it ended with Arisa saying, “Welcome people, to the NX Fleet.”