A sharp whistle pierced the air as a bullet train sped down the tracks, close to arriving at its destination. After a cackle, a voice could be heard inside the train on the intercom. "We are approaching Westwich. Before we arrive, be sure to collect all your personal belongings, and when you disembark, watch your step. Thank you for choosing the Drengard Transportation Company, and we hope to see you again."

A young man, with blond hair and blue eyes and a few freckles on his face, took a deep breath after the announcement. "Here we are…Westwich…the place where I'll be for the next four years…" He could feel the train begin to slow down as it approached the station. I can't let this opportunity go to waste. I can't let down the people who believed in me…gave me this chance at a new life…

A sudden jerk from the train interrupted his thoughts. The station was now directly in front of the train as it quickly came to a stop. A few seconds later, the doors to the train opened, and the rest of the passengers stood up to disembark. The man stood up as well and joined the line. After a minute, he was off the train and walking through a crowd of people, desperately trying to find the exit. After a search, the man was finally able to locate it and leave the station.

Opening the exit doors, he took in a deep breath of the cool fall air. Looking around him, he could see that some of the trees and already begun to have their leaves change color, other leaves had already fallen and formed a layer of dead leaves on the pathway. Finally, after looking at the trees, he turned his attention to the small town in front of him. While it was no city, it wasn't a tiny village either. It had plenty of shops, from grocery stores to barber shops, the town had it all.

I guess the rumors I was told about Westwich were true. This town does have a certain charm to it.

His eyes soon spotted a building taller than the rest in the distance. "And that must be my destination…The Westwich Military Academy."

The man began to walk down the pathway to the city streets. While there were roads, cars were scarce in Westwich, with the man only seeing a few of them drive past him. "I guess the trend hasn't reached all the way out here yet."

After a thirty minute walk, he stood outside the gates of the academy. Students wearing uniforms were all around him, some chatting with their friends, others walking alone and past the man. Opening up a backpack, the man grabbed a piece of paper and looked around. "I was told that there would be a teacher to greet me when I came here…but…"

After a minute of searching, the man finally spotted a female teacher sitting on a bench, hidden by a group of students who were standing around chatting. The man walked up to the woman. "Are you Ms. Byrne?"

The woman nodded. "I am. You must be Dorian correct?"

Dorian nodded. "I am."

"Perfect!" Ms. Byrne stood up. "I'm glad you made it. I was told you might be late getting here."

"Thankfully I was able to take another train here. I would probably still be in Parcko if I hadn't found another line at the last second."

"Well I'm glad you found that other line."

Dorian handed Ms. Byrne the paper he had taken out. "I was told to give this to you when I saw you."

She grabbed the paper and briefly read the contents. "Ah, yes, your official recommendation. It's not every day we get a student that's directly recommended by the intelligence agency."

Dorian sighed. "Yeah…let's just say I have…special circumstances."

Ms. Byrne gave Dorian a puzzled look but remained silent as they walked past the gate and into the largest building on campus. After walking down a couple halls, she opened a door and walked inside, motioning for Dorian to follow. As he entered, he could tell it was a teacher's lounge. A few other teachers were enjoying a cup of coffee before the madness of the first day came crashing upon them.

Ms. Byrne sat down at a table and motioned to a chair. "Please, sit." Dorian sat down as she opened a folder. "Now Dorian, I have the results of your aptitude test here…and based off the results, and with your recommendation, we are placing you in the 'special operations' program."

"Spec ops…what does the program entail?"

"As the name says, you'll be trained for special operation. Hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, top-secret missions, things of that nature. You'll of course have your standard classes, such as military history and combat training, but you and the rest of the squad you'll be assigned to will be going on trips around the country, visiting different towns and the like."

"Oh? Why's that?"

"Information is crucial for special operations. If you don't have even a general idea of the city you're in, you'll find it difficult to complete your task. It will also give you a sense of who you're protecting. Meeting the locals and interacting with them should help foster a positive relationship between the citizens and the academy."

"I see…"

"What weapon do you prefer?"

"Two short swords. Dual-wielding suits me best."

Ms. Byrne wrote something down on a piece of paper before nodding. After a few more mundane questions, Ms. Byrne closed the folder. "Alright, you're all set." She stood up. "Follow me. I'll lead you to the auditorium where the entrance ceremony is being held." Dorian stood up and followed her down a few more halls before they walked past two large doors.

The room was large, but not too large. Comfortably able to accommodate a few hundred people. Most of the seats were taken, with most of the few open seats at the very back. Ms. Byrne pointed to a chair. "Sit there. After the ceremony go to room 206. That'll be your homeroom throughout the year. That's also where you'll meet the rest of your squad. Any questions?"

"Yeah. Do you know who my homeroom instructor is?"

The woman smiled. "That would be me." Before Dorian could respond, the bell sounded, signaling the beginning of the ceremony. "I'll see you after the ceremony." Ms. Byrne left the auditorium as an older man walked up to a mic up front.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the Westwich Military Academy, I welcome you these hallowed halls. As you know, two hundred and ten years ago, this academy was founded by the Council as a place where young people such as yourselves can learn about war, tactics, and combat. Many graduates from here have become top generals in the military. Others have taken career paths as a civilian. Whatever path you go down, we hope that the lessons we instill in you will stay with you the rest of your lives."

The man paused as he glanced over all the students in the auditorium. "For those of you who don't know me, I am Major Hector Lotte, you principal. I am a graduate from this very academy and have served decades in the military, even as an active soldier during the Eastern War. I oversaw the military as it reverted from guns back to the traditional swords and arrows as instructed by the worldwide treaty. Now, I hope my experiences can help prepare you for the future you are about to grasp for yourselves."

Major Lotte…everything he told about himself is true…however…

"I know how long-winded speeches can bore a person greatly, so I'm going to end my speech here. Once dismissed, head directly to the classroom you've been assigned. If you have any questions, your instructor will be glad to answer them. I wish you all a wonderful and productive year. Dismissed!"

Almost in unison, most of the students stood up and slowly made their way to the exits. As the crowd began to thin, Dorian stood up and followed the small line out the door. Room 206 should be up on the second floor.

Making his way up the wide set of stairs, he walked down another hallway before reading the sign "206".

"Guess this is the place."

Dorian grabbed the door handle, twisted, and pulled it towards him. Ms. Byrne was already standing at the front of the classroom near the podium, a number of folders in front of her laying on the podium. Glancing to his right, Dorian could already see five others, three men and two women.

"Ah, glad you found your way here Dorian."

Dorian looked over at Ms. Byrne and nodded. "Yeah, wasn't too bad since I waited for the rush to dissipate."

Byrne nodded and motioned to the other side of the classroom. "Find yourself a seat. Today you'll be able to choose which one you want, but starting tomorrow, class seating will be assigned and will remain so throughout the year."

Dorian nodded and walked to the very back, passing everyone else and sat down. A few minutes later, two more had entered, another man and woman. As they picked their seats, Ms. Byrne cleared her throat.

"And that should be everyone. If any of you aren't assigned to special operations, please find your designated classroom."

No one moved a muscle as Ms. Byrne looked at everyone. "Alrighty. Guess you're all supposed to be here then. Anyways, I suppose introductions are in order. My name is Meredith Byrne. I graduated from this academy five years ago and have been in active duty since. I was a part of a special operations team before certain circumstances forced our squad to disband. I was then assigned here as an instructor at the academy and will be your homeroom teacher and combat instructor. Nice to finally meet all of my students."

After a brief pause, Meredith quickly glanced around the room. "Now, since I've introduced myself, it's now your turns to do the same. We'll start up front and work our way backwards, starting with you."

Meredith pointed to the guy sitting up front who sighed. He had a large build, dark brown hair, and brown eyes. "Digby. Digby Perez. My father was a military man, as was his father, and the list goes on. It's in my blood to be a part of the military so here I am."

Meredith nodded and looked at the woman next to him, her bright blond hair flowing down to the middle of her back. "Evanna Wright. Been friends with Digby since we were both babies. Joined because someone needs to look after Digby's back."

"Ah childhood friends huh? Good. With all the work we have planned for you throughout the year, you'll need everyone you can to help you get through." Meredith then looked at the row behind them, where four others were sitting. "You're next."

"Farnell Hughes. I didn't have any idea what I wanted to do with my life so I decided to come to this academy to kinda figure it out I guess. Though it may sound like I'm not committed, I'm willing to do any amount of work required of me."

"A journey of self-discovery. There have been quite a few students that have gone to this academy with the same reasoning. Even had one in my class when I was a student before he left for a civilian career. Next is…"

A couple seats away, a red-haired woman shuffled in her seat. "Hi…I'm Amira Schmidt. I was given a recommendation from the academy I attended before to come here. I hope I'm able to learn much while I'm here."

"Ah that's right, you're one of my two recommendations. I have high hopes for you. Your former academy would not shut up about how intelligent you are."

"T-thank you Instructor."

"I guess I'm next then." Unlike everyone else, the next student, a male with black hair and green eyes stood up. "I'm Ethan Price. I come from a long line of military members on both sides of my family. My family has ranged from simple foot soldier all the way to High General. It's a pleasure to be able to attend the same academy of my ancestors." Ethan made a slight bow. "Thank you allowing me to be in your class."

Ethan sat back down as Meredith smiled and nodded. "I knew the name 'Price' sounded familiar. Are you related to Rick by any chance?"

"Yes. He's my cousin on my father's side."

"Excellent. We were a part of the same class. If I recall he was sent to the border between Drengard and Holsten. How is he?"

"He's doing quite well Instructor. He was recently promoted to Sergeant."

"I'm glad to hear that. And next we have…"

"I'm Aaron Brown. While no one in my family has ever been in the military, I've always wanted to since I was little. It was my desire to become a soldier that led me to apply here. Pleased to meet you."

"Pleased to meet you as well. Always exciting for a first-generation soldier to attend this academy."

Meredith looked at the final row, where Dorian and a woman sat on opposite ends. "You two are the last ones." She looked at the woman. "Please introduce yourself."

The woman nodded and stood up. She had light brown hair that dropped to her shoulders but began to curl upwards. Her eyes were a hazel color that perfectly complemented her hair. "I'm Olive Richardson. I decided to join the military to help defend those who can't defend themselves. I'm ready for whatever you have to throw my way and will work hard to improve myself. Nice to meet you Instructor."

Meredith chuckled. "I hope you're able to maintain your enthusiasm by the end of the year. It's nice to meet you as well." Meredith turned her attention to Dorian. "And now for our final member. Please introduce yourself."

Dorian followed Ethan's and Olive's example and stood up. "I'm Dorian Scott. I was given a recommendation to this academy, so here I am. I plan on giving it my all and overcome any trials that may come my way."

Meredith smiled. "Well that about does it for introductions! I'd like to welcome each and every one of you here! As of now, you are all a part of Westwich Military Academy's Squad Nine! Congratulations!"