Even within an institution that carries so much tradition, students will often times find tradition for themselves. Such is the case with Senia, Hardy and many of their friends. One night a week they would gather for a quiet dinner in the village, partake in quiet conversation and enjoy each others company. On a night like this, the honour of House was put aside for the joy of camaraderie and laughter. Even Left-tenant Philburt Collinsworth had left the comfortable confines of House Fennec in order to join in the festivities. There were six of them in total for this night; Senia, Hardy, Jada, Clarfax Billings, Private Aria Sharpspeer and Philly. This was the main bulk of the group, though there were often others who joined in.
Philly was a tan coloured Vulpine with larger ears and always looked like he was on the brink of telling a good joke. His mother was Air Marshal of the 103rd, and it was his dream to join the ranks of that squadron. Aria was a tall, spotted Felanus, one who was often described as teetering between dainty and duty bound. She had kept a lot of her own private life very, well, private. At least her private affairs were kept in such a manner, and no one badgered her to dig them up. And then there was Clarfax, a black furred Vulpine who always seemed to have his snout stuck in a book, even when at dinner. That is, unless Hardy was present.
On this evening, much to the chagrin of Jada, the conversation had turned to her recent hearing. For the most part, they had discussed minor details of the hearing and the resulting ruling. For her part, Senia was able to at least steer the conversation to other, more immediate activities.
“One month until graduation,” Senia said at one pause in the conversation as she sat back and sipped her tea. “And there’s still a great deal we have to do before the final ceremonies.”
“I heard a rumour,” Philly said in his best conspiratorial voice as he leaned forward as though hatching some grand scheme. “Who the guest speaker may be for the ceremonies.” He nodded with a grin as he sat back in his chair. It seemed as though an eternity passed before Aria finally spoke up.
“Philly, it’s not polite to say something then sit back like the cat who caught the canary.” She studied him a moment, then narrowed her eyes and smirked. “Unless you’re wanting us to guess, which would be odd considering you’ve always been bursting at the…”
“Alright,” he finally said with a broad smile as he sat back up in his chair. Aria was right, he couldn’t wait to tell good news when he’d heard it, even if it was just a rumour. “Word is that the Barrow’s Revenge is making a routine stop at the Vulpine Trade Commission shipyards toward the end of the month, and that Left-tenant Colonel Artemis Dawkins has agreed to speak to the students during the ceremony.” There was small murmurs that went through the group. Artemis Dawkins was renowned for his expertise as a fighter pilot, his tactical genius, and his ability to diffuse a hostile situation without firing a shot. Many of his tactical patterns were standard learning tools at the Academy.
“Dawkins,” Senia said with a revered whisper. “He was the reason why I joined the Academy.”
“He was the reason a lot of us joined the Academy,” Hardy said with a smile. “I still remember when you, me, and Clarry were all kits, waiting at the train station for the pilots to return. Signaled the end of the Great Lupine Land War.”
“I remember you were more interested in finding out the engine capacity of the Maverick Mark V,” Clarfax said as he nudged Hardy lightly. The others chuckled lightly. Hardy hadn’t changed much, she’d always had an interest in mechanics from a very young age.
“That hasn’t changed,” Aria piped up as she poured some more tea for herself and offered to fill up anyone’s cup. “I swear that I had to video record Hardy at night to prove to her that she talks about engine combustion and neutronium coils in her sleep. And I think she moves her hands like she’s repairing an engine, too.”
“That’s not unlike the fact it took a while to convince you that you purr while you sleep,” Hardy retorted with a smile. Hardy and Aria were roommates for the six years they were at the Academy, and they had to get used to their small nuances right away.
“I only do that when I’m happy,” Aria replied, clearing her throat as though embarrassed by the mention of her nocturnal habit.
“You must be happy a lot then,” Hardy chuckled.
“Any word on the semi final game?” Philly said as he changed subjects. “With Jada out, you’re going to need a new striker.”
“Word travels fast,” Jada said as she looked to Senia.
“Well, we are one of the most secure Academies in the North Eastern hemisphere, so naturally word of your predicament would have gotten around,” she explained with a sigh, then looked to Philly with a smirk. “No talking House business. Especially when you consider House Ocelot’s opponent happens to be House Fennec.”
“That’s right,” Hardy grinned as she looked across the table to Philly. “You might get the wrong idea and send word to your own rough ball team.”
“What!” Philly said with some shock. “No, just making conversation is…”
“It’s Clarry,” Jada said quickly with a grin. “He’s taking my spot on the striker line.”
“What?” Clarfax said with some shock as he looked from Hardy to Jada. “I’m… what… striker? Pardon.”
“That’s right,” Aria said as she picked up her tea cup. “Clarry is secretly one of the best strikers in Foxburrow, and he plans to bring his best to the pitch in the semi final against House Fennec.”
“Alright,” Philly finally said with a resigned sigh. “No discussion of House business. For what it’s worth, though. I think Jada should be on that pitch. Make the game more interesting.”
“There’s nine other players on the field, Philly,” Jada reminded him. “I’m just part of the greater whole when it comes to it. I’m not the reason why we’ve done so well in the House League.”
“Well, how about this, Philly,” Senia said as she removed her napkin from her lap and set it on the table in a neat crumple. “We’ve got four days before the semi final match, you can find out when the whistle blows to start the game.” She smiled across the table to Philly who only shrugged in defeat. Senia took out her pocket watch and shook her head as she checked the time. “We’d best get back to the barracks. It’s late, and we’ve still got a lot of class time left.”
The others at the table agreed and slowly made their way out of the quaint restaurant. Senia and Philly took care of the bill, then the six began the short walk back to the base. The sun was setting on the day, a light breeze in the air that moved the leaves in the trees ever so gently, and the birds chirped and sang their evening song.
For the moment, as Hardy walked arm in arm with Clarfax, everything was right in the world.
- Rocket Fox – Chapter four musings (taholtorf.wordpress.com)