Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
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I jumped from my bed and groaned, rubbing my eyes. Grabbing my ribbon beside me, I tied it up into a bun and stretched my arms and legs. I put on my grey robes over my black, sleeveless top and wore my trousers, slipping on my combat boots.
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My bunkmate, Cassie just woke up from her sleep and got dressed, and looked at me. "Morning, Bugsy," she yawned, wearing her red hairband. "Slept well?"
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I nodded. "Yeah, you?"
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"I slept well," she glanced at me with her grey eyes, walking out of our quarters. "Now come on, we don't want to make Sergeant A'tynn mad."
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I gave a nod and rushed out of our quarters, catching up with Cassie. The hallway was bright and crowded, filled with shinies like me passing by, getting themselves ready for training. Some were brushing their teeth with their wooden toothbrush, others were passing the breeze with each other.
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Stepping into the mess hall, I find myself sniffing at the freshly-baked bread and hot, garlic soup, making my mouth water and my stomach grumble. I grabbed my tray and showed it at the cook, who served my meal to me. "Thank you," I bowed, as I headed to where Cassie and her friends were sitting, with stares of curiosity and hostility.
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Some of the fair folks covered their nose as they walked passed me, while others scoffed at me, whispering with each other. I sighed as I ignored them and dipped my bread inside the garlic soup, munching it. Oh wow, my eyes widened. This taste exactly likes how Mom and Aunt Inara used to make back home.
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The soup was salty, yet a little tangy at the same time, with the aromatic scent filling my nose. I stared at my food and gobbled it up as quickly as I could, emptying my tray in one go. "Someone's hungry," teased Cassie, nudging my shoulder. "How long has it been since you last ate some real food?"
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I shrugged. "I've lost track of time, to be honest."
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"So what is it like in the human realm?"
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"It's alright," I replied, resting my arms. "I mostly helped my aunt and my stepmom to run the coffeehouse and hang around with friends."
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"What's a coffeehouse?" Cassie raised one of her eyebrows, gulping down her cup of water. "It's where we drink coffee and eat pastries."
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"I've never had coffee before," she said, as we both stood up from our seat and placed our tray into the basin. "How does it taste like?"
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"Bitter," I answered. "But once you add some sugar and milk, it'll taste good."
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She smiled as we both headed out from the mess hall, only to bumped into a blue-haired boy with golden eyes and fair skin, painted with freckles. "Out of the way, meat bag," he mocked, whiffing his hands around his nose. "You don't belong here."
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Cassie chuckled as she stepped forward, crossing her arms. "Aren't you the only one here from Arendia, Nat?"
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Nat's face turned red as he walked away from us, his head hanging low. Cassie and I laughed together. "Okay, that was hilarious," I grinned. "I have to be honest."
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"Well thanks, Bugsy," she said when we heard the bell ringing four times. Cassie sighed. "We should head to the training room."
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I nodded and rushed to the training room, lining up in a straight line. As we placed our hands behind our back and straightened our posture, Sergeant A'tynn entered the training room. With tanned skin and black, curly hair, Sergeant A'tynn has a huge scar on his cheek and wears an eye patch over his left eye. His eyes darted towards us as he paced back and forth, making my palms clammy.
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"Attention," he barked his orders towards us, making us stand still like a statue. "As you are all aware, we have a new recruit under the orders of Her Majesty's."
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The sergeant's icy blue eyes peered towards me, making me swallowed hard. "Cadet, " he spoke, in a gruff voice. "Would you please step forward?"
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"Yes, sir," I answered, stepping forward from the straight line. "Would you care to turn around and introduce yourself to the others, please?"
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I nodded and cleared my throat, my hands still locked behind me. "My name is Bugsy," I introduced myself to the other cadets. "It's an honour to be inducted into the Knights of Moon by Her Majesty Queen Titania. I will do my best to serve the Kingdom of Angelis with honour and determination."
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Nat burst into laughter, causing the sergeant to give him a death glare. "What's so funny, Nat?" he snapped. "Speak up, cadet!"
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"She's only a human girl," Nat sneered at me. "Humans are nothing but weak and brittle. She wouldn't even last for a day in battle."
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I let out a soft chuckle and rolled my eyes. "Cadet Avveros," addressed Sergeant A'tynn. "What is the first code of Knights of Moon?"
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"Be strong and brave on the battlefield?" stuttered Nat, his hands trembling. "You're wrong," he pointed out. "Be respectful of others regardless of race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Clearly, you need more lessons on the Codes, cadet!"
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Nat's lips tightened as he was ordered to get back in line, like a child being sent for a timeout. "Thank you for the introduction, Bugsy," he said, as he looked at the other cadets in line. "At ease, cadets."
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The rest of the cadets loosened up their posture as they grabbed their swords and pistols from the weapon racks. Cassie stood on the training mat and spared her sword with a frizzy-haired girl, letting out a slight giggle. I walked towards the weapon rack and grabbed a thin-bladed sword, only to be stopped by the sergeant.
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"You won't be using that yet, Bugsy," he told me, handing me a Wooden Waster. "Until you're ready, you'll be using these for now."
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I nodded, understanding his words. Shame I couldn't use a sword yet. I was looking forward to using those. Then again, I might hurt myself, or worse. He led me to a training dojo and faced me in the opposite direction, twisting with his waster with one hand. "Have you use a sword before?"
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I shook my head. "No, sir. This is my first time."
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"Well, you're about to find out more about sword-fighting," he chuckled. "Now get ready."
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I raised one of my eyebrows. "With all due respect, Sarge, shouldn't you be teaching me first?"
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"You're right, Bugsy, but I want to test your capabilities. Now, are you ready, cadet?"
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"Sir yes, sir," I nodded, as I held my waster with both hands, guarding my front body. Running towards me, his waster clashed with mine, pushing me backwards. I tried to hold my block, only to slip and fall, landing on my back. "Rule number one," he gave his hand. "Be responsive when your enemy attacks you."
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I sighed and grabbed his hand, only to be flipped over. "Rule number two, never let your guard down."
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I picked up my training stick and darted towards him, only for the sergeant to grabbed my arm, making me lose my grip on my stick. "Rule number 3, don't let your emotions get the best of you."
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"Yes, sir," I acknowledged, rubbing my head. "I understand."
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He stepped his right foot forward and held the pommel of the sword just below his navel. "This is called 'The Plow Guard'," he explained. "This is one of the defence poses you'll be using against your attacker. Now you try it."
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I imitated his posture, pointing the tip of the sword at his throat. As he began to strike, I took a few steps backwards as I blocked every attack towards me. Feeling my sword slowly slipping from my grasps, I managed a kick on his left knee, causing him to trip. I seized the opportunity and jabbed his chest.
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"I win," I let out a huge smirk, lifting my head up. Sergeant A'tynn chuckled. "No, I win, Bugsy."
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I glanced at the sword A'tynn pointed at my chest, making me groaned in frustration. "Dammit, I almost had you."
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"And you did," he lifted himself up, putting his sword aside. "But you must always double-check before declaring a victory against your enemy; that's rule number four."
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"Yes, Sarge," I bobbed my head, dusting my tunic. "You know, Bugsy, you ain't so bad after all," praised the sergeant. "You adapt rather easily for a beginner."
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"Thank you, Sarge," I saluted, as we shook hands with each other. "Come back later for more lessons. You have a lot to learn. Understood, cadet?"
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"Sir yes, sir," I obeyed, stiffening my body. "At ease, cadet."
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