I suddenly noticed a new group; one that I was sure wasn’t there a few minutes before. They were five warriors, wearing a dark grey uniform with the same insignia in their chests. As I observed the new group, I noticed a woman arriving, she walked directly to the warrant officer and took a bunch of papers from his hands.
“Attention.” The voice of the warrant officer startled me. It didn’t sound like the first time I heard him, now it was like a sweet song that made me feel like I was walking on clouds. “We are going to introduce you to the sergeants and assign you to one of them. As you hear your name approach your sergeant,” he stopped talking, and I felt sad, I wanted him to go on, I didn’t want to stop listening to him…
The woman walked to the front as the warrant officer took a few steps backwards, I didn’t want him to go, why would he stop talking?
“I know it will be a little bit difficult, but I need you to pay attention TO ME.” For a moment, I was lost. I didn’t understand what she was talking about, then I noticed the same confused look in most of the young faces and a few of the older ones and realized that the man was using some sort of control through his voice to keep us focused on him. “I hope you have regained some control over yourself. Let’s continue. All of you have been assigned to me. I am lieutenant Morrigan from the Amon Family. From today on you will be protecting the Imperial Palace and the surrounding areas.
I didn’t know what to expect, I was afraid, wishing that Sultana or at least Shahzadi would be there with me, but it was useless, wishing would not change anything. I was envious of the other children.
One by one the lieutenant called the sergeants and assigned them their new recruits. When three of them had already passed, I started to worry that they were going to forget about me, that I would be left there without anybody to tell me what to do. It was then when Morrigan called Cervo, I remembered that name.
“Soldier Emes,” called the lieutenant, and I saw one of the remaining girls separate from who I assumed was her mother and walk towards sergeant Cervo.
It was then that a man followed by another child approached the lieutenant.
“Welcome captain, I was thinking that you wouldn’t come, the sorting already started” the lieutenant was trying to be respectful, but I could see that she was annoyed and angry.
“Well, I know how much time these things take, and I didn’t want to waste my time waiting around.” Something about the captain made me dislike him. He was talking as if the situation bored him. “But I’m here now and I brought my son, sergeant Montu.”
“I have his registry right here, and he’s just in time,” said the lieutenant as she took a paper and put it on the front, “you can leave captain. I wouldn’t want to waste anymore of your time. I can handle it from here.”
“Yeah, take care of it,” the captain spoke to his son and then left the place disappearing as fast as he had arrived.
The captain’s boy had the same arrogance air as his father, he stood there like he was the boss.
“I’m sorry for the interruption.” I had the feeling she wasn’t apologizing to us, but to the adults around us. “Let’s continue, corporal Kaiserin from the Maxima Family, go with sergeant Cervo.”
I was walking towards the sergeant, even before she finished talking to me. She took just a few seconds before speaking again, I was so focused that I didn’t hear her next words, but it was impossible to ignore the angry voice talking back to her.
“I think you’re the one who’s not listening. I AM a sergeant, my father said…”
“I don’t care what your father said,” interrupted Morrigan “the orders come from further up. You can’t be promoted yet.”
“But my father promised me my own squad.”
I saw sergeant Cervo talking to the other sergeants and then walk towards Morrigan and the kid.
“Let me tell you what kid,” said Cervo and the kid looked at him with disdain, “I’ll give you 5 minutes, if you can hit me at least once in that time you can have my squad.”
I saw the lieutenant and the warrant officer exchange a glance and smile, like they were sharing a secret. At the same time, the kid, Montu, smiled and accepted the challenge.
Full of confidence Montu approached Cervo and then threw himself at him, but Cervo disappeared, one second he was about to get hit by Montu, the next he was standing behind him. Montu was surprised and confused. People around us were laughing. Montu attacked again and again, but Cervo was always out of his reach, and there was nothing that Montu could do to get to him. After a couple of minutes, everyone was laughing at Montu’s useless attacks, myself included.
“Your time is over,” declared Cervo as he took one of Montu’s arms and twisted it behind his back. “Don’t worry kid, you lost, but I will teach you some respect and your proper place. You need to learn that your father is not going to be always covering for you.” Using his leverage on his arm Cervo guided Montu to where Emes and I were waiting.
After the lieutenant and the warrant officer stopped laughing and after exchanging a knowing look between them, they resumed their task of assigning the recruits to their new sergeants. But I didn’t pay more attention to them. I was occupied with my new sergeant and colleagues.
“I just need you to understand one thing, I am the one in command,” said Cervo as he released Montu from his hold. “You need to do whatever I told you to do, without questions. Here we all are soldiers of the Empire. It doesn’t matter if you are an Amon, Maxima or Cohorte, if you are the children of a simple soldier or a captain. We are all on the same group. That’s something you have to understand.”
Montu was about to say something, but the look in Cervo’s eyes stopped him. Emes giggled at that and earned a glare from Montu.
All the sergeants took their new recruits to a building close to where we were. As we entered each group went to a different floor. Cervo explained that all the squads under warrant officer Zanmei lived in that building, we were assigned to the third floor. The living quarters of my squad reminded me of the barracks at the Burrow. It was a long room with two rows of beds, each with a trunk at the bed foot. At the end of the room there was a door leading to what I supposed was the sergeant’s private room and office.
While I searched for an empty bed that I could claim as mine, I reflected upon the changes that had fallen upon me, things were happening so fast, everything was so different… but I didn’t have many opportunities to think about it, with Montu there it was difficult to find a moment of peace.
“My father is a captain, but he will be a general in no time. He’s so strong that I don’t doubt that he could even be an emperor, after all our bloodline comes from emperor Zeus himself.” Since Cervo had left us, Montu hadn’t stopped talking about him and his family. Most soldiers just ignored him, but some of the younger ones were hanging on his every word.
“The Maxima Family has been ruling for a while, I mean, the current empress, her father and her grandmother were all Maximas,” said one of the soldiers.
“That is a dead bloodline, my father said that none of Sultana’s children have survived enough to become heirs,” with those words Montu got my attention, and I approached the group.
“You are wrong. She already has an heir: Dux.”
“But Dux is not even her son, he is her nephew, and one with a weak lineage. His father was Maxima, but his mother was an Amon. Don’t you know anything about succession?” Montu was enjoying being the center of attention a little too much, and even if I hated to admit it at that moment he had my full attention. “Not all the kids who get out of the Burrow have a father or mother waiting for them, but if the kid is worth it, he can be claimed by an uncle or aunt. That’s what the Empress does, claim the orphans in her family as her heirs.”
“I heard that she had a daughter.” I surprised myself by talking, but I couldn’t avoid it.
“Those are just rumors, but even if she does have a child in the Burrow, there’s no warranty that he or she will get out, and it will be years before we find out one way or another.”
“What I don’t get is why we should worry about it,” said Emes, “we’re just soldiers and high politics is hardly something to concern ourselves with.”
“A nobody like you shouldn’t worry about this, but I am an heir. I’ll have the opportunity to fight for the throne,” was a Montu’s answer.
“I have some news for you, kid. You are not unique and certainly not special,” said a woman that looked older than the rest of us, “the sooner you realize that and drop your superiority act, the better for you, no one likes a show off like you.”
“You talk like someone without a future. I won’t stay here for long, as soon as my father hears about this, he will fix things, and I’ll be a sergeant. Maybe I’ll even ask for you to be in my squad just to prove you wrong.”
The woman stood up in front of Montu “You really should be careful, kid. That attitude of yours is going to get you more enemies that you can handle.”
“I’m not here to make friends,” answered Montu as he extended his hand, the woman started to bend as if pressed by an invisible force. That’s when I realized that he was a telekinetic like me. “I’m here to get underlings. In this world, the weak has to obey the strong, and girl; I’m much stronger than you.”
“Leave me alone,” the woman by then was kneeling before Montu, she struggled trying to break free. “Leave me, or you will regret it,” her words had a dangerous tint. She was beyond mad, but she was defenseless against him.
“I don’t think that you are in a position to make threats.” Montu mocked her.
He was so focused on humiliating the woman, that he didn’t notice how the attitude of the rest of the people present was shifting, even in those that were mesmerized by him moments before. Instead of underlings, all he was getting by his actions were enemies.
Suddenly, Montu fled across the room and hit the wall. He was just trying to recover when Cervo grabbed him by the neck and held him against the wall.
“Let go,” ordered Montu, but his voice was not as commanding or confident as before.
“Why would I do that? The strong can do whatever he wants with the weak, and I’m stronger than you. I have proven it twice already.” For a moment, it felt as if Cervo was going to kill Montu, his voice, his tone was cold. Just as Montu was about to lose consciousness Cervo released him.
“You can’t do this, my father…”
“You need to learn that you cannot depend on your father, he won’t be here to get you out of trouble. You are your own person.” Cervo threw Montu in the direction of the woman; she was now back on her feet. “You can start by apologizing, that was no way to treat your colleagues.”
“You need to learn this kid.” Cervo looked around, making eye contact with us, and I felt as if he was no longer talking just to Montu, but to all of us. “There is always going to be someone stronger than you. You need a support team. You can’t have that if you abuse your colleagues or your subordinates. In the end, if you are in a battle, you need by your side people willing to risk their lives for you, not someone who would be happy to see you dead.”
Cervo’s words made sense, but the look in a Montu’s face made me think that he wouldn’t be easily convinced.
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