Not far from the gardens was a quaint little eatery and tea house. Like the gardens the Royal Foxburrow Tea House was in the village long before the college saw the first groundbreaking ceremony. This tea house also had the distinction of being in the same family for that entire time. Over the many centuries, it became a place for the students to congregate and have a good tea and even a small meal. Clarfax, along with Hardy, Senia and Jada had partaken in this place since their arrival six years before. It had become a part of their daily routine, and a part of their lives while they attneded college, so today was not unlike any other day for the four of them.
It had become somewhat a common thing to see Clarfax and Hardy walk into the tea house arm in arm, and even the current proprietor of the establishment had thought that it was a delight to see them. The four always had the same table, and always came at the same time of day. Today was just like any other day. The only difference now, Jada was just a regular civilian.
“Thought you two would be here,” Clarfax said as he and Hardy approached their usual table.
“I may be stripped of rank,” Jada spoke up. “But I’m not planning on breaking some of our traditions. Some, even the rigid disciplines of the air force cannot break.”
“We were just discussing our plans once graduation,” Senia comments as Clarfax and Hardy took their seats.
“Hardy delivered my letter,” Clarfax announced. “The date is set, I’ll have my evaluation soon enough.”
“Nervous>” Jada asked.
“No, of course not,” Clarfax said with a wave of his hand. He took a deep breath and looked to his three friends, finally admitting the obvious. “Very, if you want the truth.”
“I have every confidence,” Hardy said with a grin. “I see nothing that can stand in our way. As far as I’m concerned, 76th here we come.” She looked around the table catching the looks in the eyes of her friends, and then defended her comment further. “We have the best scores in the entire group of sixth year cadets. We have the best records, the most commendations. We will get the best pick of placement when the time comes. It’s not arrogance. It’s confidence.”
“I truly hope so,” Clarfax said with a nod. The conversation died down a bit as a server came and brought them all tea and biscuits. Once they had all been taken care of, Clarfax changed the subject, directing a question to Jada. “What are your prospects?”
“I did get a letter, actually,” Jada said with a firm nod. “I made a few calls to the Vulpine Trade Commission, and I received a wave this morning from Captain Red Streak of the Dorgatha. She said she’s currently evaluating my skills.”
“A Jackai captain,” Hardy said with a smile. “She’ll probably take that one black mark as a good sign.”
“Well, it’ll be a different experience,” Jada said with a shrug. “But I know the work will be hard, and from what I’ve heard, Red Streak runs a tight ship.”
“I take it you received the news from the deep space observation platform,” Senia said as she looked to Clarfax.
“I did,” he nodded firmly. “I took it straight away to Robert, Gilbert and Claudia to show them. I promised that if something came in, they’d be the first to see it. It’s very exciting news.”
“I had to pry him away from the group,” Hardy said with a chuckle. Clarfax only looked to her and shook his head with a smile. He knew she was exaggerating the earlier action.
“One thing I am certain of,”Clarfax finally said as he raised his tea cup. The others caught sight of the motion, a signal that Clarfax had something important to say, and was preparing a toast. “Whatever does happen with our evaluations, and our placements. Whether we get the postings we want, or we find ourselves someplace else. Let us not stop being friends.”
“To friendship,” the other three said in unison, gently clinking their tea cups against one another.
Friendship was always the important thing with these four. It had been tried and tested before many times. They’d always pulled through and found their friendship was stronger than ever. And they had always been able to rely and trust each other more than anyone else.