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Taiyang Xiao Long had never been to this part of California before.

 

He had seen Beacon Academy before, sure, but he didn't think he would actually be accepted. He was the son of a proud Navy man who served America in World War II on the USS South Dakota, almost right from the beginning once Pearl Harbor was attacked, and felt it was his duty to continue the family legacy of military service. His bags were by his side, and he had appeared as the letter told him to – white shirt, khaki shorts, comfortable shoes. The campus was abuzz with activity, with olive drab-clad soldiers directing those like him around. Many of them held clipboards and pens, marking things off or taking note of something. So far, August of 1960 was looking good.

 

“You!” someone shouted, approaching Taiyang with a clipboard. “Name!”

“Taiyang Xiao Long!”

“Xiao Long, huh?” he said, scanning his clipboard. “Alright, you're on here. Go to Everett Hall, that's your new home, cadet.”

“Yes, sir!”

“HEY! Do not address me as 'sir,' I work for a living! Call me 'sergeant,' is that understood?!”

“Yes, sergeant!”

 

Taiyang grabbed his bags, rushing to the assigned hall. Once in there, another soldier directed him to a room, having him drop off his bags and moving him to another hallway. In this hall, he stood in a line with countless others. There were so many – men, women, teenagers like him, and one or two older ones whose ages he couldn't place. A sergeant walked up and down the line, almost casually, an eagle eye out for anything he deemed unacceptable.

 

The line inched ever forward, and soon he arrived at a desk with another one, faced with two sergeants ordering him to rattle off his name and giving him a room and company assignment. Braeburn Hall, Room 22, Golf Company. Taiyang soon got a so-called Knowledge sheet, filled out what felt like a mountain of paperwork, and received a basic medical exam before returning to a massive field, gathered up with at least a hundred others. They were taken to a building, packed in like sardines, and introduced to Beacon's various specialty units, like mountaineers, Rogue Platoon, the campus band and the chaplain corps.

 

An officer stepped into the room, far more senior than any other he had seen so far. The sergeants ordered them to stand up and salute, as an officer with brown hair and small, round glasses headed up to the stage. He slowly scanned the cadets before him as he returned the salute and waited for them to return to their seats.

 

“Cadets of the class of 1964,” he said, “welcome to Beacon. I am Major Ozpin, your new Commandant. Our previous Commandant is with us tonight, so let us give Commandant McKinney a round of applause for his hard work and dedication in training new soldiers of the US Army.”

 

The cadets, new and old alike, gave a short round of applause for their former Commandant.

 

“You have all come here for one thing: to become officers of this grand army. I will tell you right away that, for many of you, such a thing is impossible. If you were not already aware, Beacon is of the habit that only a small percentage of all cadets receive a commission. Do not let this dissuade you. I see many new faces, and I see many women, a trend I am glad to see now that Congress has lifted the restrictions on women serving in our armed forces. I am sure all of you will train hard, and fight even harder if given the chance. The future awaits you, cadets, and it is up to you to seize it. Class of 1964, you have four years to prove your worth, why you deserve to be officers of the United States Army. Good luck, ladies and gentlemen.”

 

Once the specialty units had been given a chance to talk, they were again marched outside into formations. In an undisciplined mob, they ran to their barracks, where they were berated by the so-called “First Sergeant” for a crime he wasn't sure he had committed.

 

He had no idea how long it had been before he was allowed to phone home. He was sure someone would be there, but who? Dad might have fallen asleep. Mom was too deaf to hear the phone ring. Had Dad called over Taiyang's aunts and uncles to wait around the phone? The phone rang once, twice, three times before someone picked it up.

 

“Hello?” It was Dad. Finally, a friendly voice in all this madness.

“Hey dad,” he said, relief washing over him. “It's me, Tai.”

“Ah, so you made it there alright. How's it going?”

“Uh,” Taiyang said, nervously laughing. “It's uh...a bit more intense than I thought. I think we'll just have to see.”

“Well, no matter what, I'm proud of you, son. You're gonna go far.”

“Thank you, Dad.” Taiyang saw the sergeant wave his finger in a circle. Time to wrap it up. “I gotta go, Dad. See you all in a week.”

“See you then, Tai. Remember who you are.”

“Yes, sir.”

 

Taiyang's turn at the phone was replaced by another kid like him, with jet-black hair and a stoic look on his face. Exercises and drills on seemingly random things occupied the rest of their time until finally, Taiyang was released to his room.

 

Or, at least, part of his room. He was shadowed back to the dorm by two others, both who seemed incredibly calm given the circumstances. For Taiyang, his heart had been beating a million miles a second ever since the sergeants first started yelling at him. The guy followed him into the room, folding his arms as he leaned against the desk provided for them.

 

“So, I guess we're roommates,” the other guy said. His voice was rough, gravelly, almost like he was twenty years older.

“I guess so,” Taiyang said, holding out a hand. “I'm Taiyang Xiao Long.”

“Qrow Branwen,” his roommate said, keeping his arms secured to himself.

“Hey, what're the chances, bro,” said a girl with black hair and a cocky smile, appearing around the corner. “Wonder what genius gave us a dorm together?”

“Uh, I'm sorry,” Tai asked. “You're…?”

 

“Raven Branwen,” the girl said, flipping back a lock of rogue hair. “I guess my roommate's not here yet. Maybe they quit. More chances for me.”

“Wait, are you guys like…?”

“Yeah,” Qrow said, smiling. “She's my sister. We put the same company on our applications, didn't think they'd give us a dorm next to each other.”

“I didn't know you could request a company,” Taiyang said.

“Hey, some people go for it. Family ties, like the name, that kind of thing,” Raven said, shrugging.

 

A knock came at the door, and in came a short girl with black hair that faded to red at the tips, with piercing silver eyes. “Uh, hello?” she said, meekly walking in with a bag over her shoulder. “Um, this is room 22, right?”

“Right place,” Raven said, turning to greet the newcomer. “You my roommate?”

“Uh...Raven Branwen, right? I'm Summer Rose.”

“Welcome to hell,” Qrow said, getting off the desk. “Why weren't you here with everyone else?”

“Oh, I was on the train from Louisiana,” Summer said, depositing her bag in her and Raven's shared room. “Are you guys all local?”

 

“Nah,” Raven said. “My bro and I are from Arizona.”

“Uh, I'm actually from California,” Taiyang chimed in. “Maybe I can show you guys around after Induction Week.”

“We'll just see if we all survive,” Raven said. “I know Qrow and I will. Dunno if you two have seen anything like this.”

Banging came at the door. “Stop talking and go to sleep! Lights out!” a sergeant shouted. That sealed it. No more time to talk. Poor Summer – she barely had any time to even settle in.

 


 

 

Taiyang slept like a log, until he was woken up by a sergeant practically kicking in their dorm, trashcan lid in hand, banging a stick against it.

“WAKE UP!” he shouted. “Get dressed, get in the Pit! You have one minute!”

The sergeant soon left, off to terrorize other cadets. Taiyang could already hear more sergeants shouting, each with their own instruments of chaos to wake the sleepy cadets up. He looked out the window – it was still dark out. What time was it? Did it even matter?

 

The groggy cadets assembled in the Pit, where First Sergeant Ahearn stood overlooking them. He was a stern soldier, standing at a towering 6'4” and with a deep, booming voice that commanded respect.

“Good morning, Golf!”

“Good morning, First Sergeant!”

“I see we have some new faces among our company tonight. You late arrivals, do not be worried. I am a fair man. This is the new Army! I do not discriminate against Negroes, Jews, women, greasers. Here, you are all equally worthless until you show me that you deserve to wear the badge of honor we know as the Lighthouse Brigade patch. Today, Golf, we will be filling out more medical information, gentlemen, you will be getting haircuts, and we will set up bank accounts in your name here in California.”

 

The company was soon moved out to breakfast, and once breakfast had been finished, they were marched to the library. Squads had already been established now – Taiyang's squad consisted of him, Summer Rose, and the Branwen siblings. How convenient, he thought.

 

“Cadet Xiao Long!” Sergeant Wakefield said. “Drop your Knowledge.”

“Yes, sergeant!”

“Tell me about the First General Order.”

“Sergeant, I will...uh...I will...”

Sergeant Wakefield raised an eyebrow. “Any day now, Cadet.”

“Sergeant, I will obey my special orders in a military manner!”

 

The sergeant looked at him for a few moments, before blinking slowly. “Cadet, that's your Second General Order. Even if that was what I had asked you, you'd be wrong. Your First General Order is 'I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.' Study your Knowledge.”

“Yes, sergeant!”

 

Taiyang studied this Knowledge sheet. It was full of information he wasn't sure he'd ever use, from details about something called an M14, campus traditions, notes on guns located around campus, the aforementioned general orders, and short songs. What was the purpose of most of this?

 

Eventually, his squad's turn through the library was next. He went down a gauntlet of sergeants, each yelling at him to move faster. He received a short medical questionnaire from bored officers asking about allergies, and sent on his way to talk to local banks. None were necessary for him – he already had a bank that operated around San Francisco. He escaped the building not much worse for wear, all things considered.

 

They went to the campus barbershop next, where a line of men standing out the door waiting for haircuts was matched by four men at a time leaving, with bald heads and faces. They all managed to look the same, somehow. The only way he knew there was a difference between them was when one appeared with glasses, or a different skin tone.

 

He and Qrow were shoved into the building, two dollars in hand, waiting for their turn at the chairs. A team of barbers quickly and efficiently shaved off hair, with massive piles of it on the floor. Occasionally, someone came by with a broom, sweeping the mass of lost hair out a back door.

 

“Got your money?” the barber asked, his razor buzzing. Taiyang handed over his two dollars, and the barber gestured for him to take a seat, whipping a cloak over Taiyang's chest. Slowly, he watched as his hair began to fall off his head, replaced by short, stubby pricks of hair. The barber's work was over almost before it began, and soon he was practically shoving Taiyang out of the chair and out the door so he could work on another cadet.

 

Outside, he saw Rose and Raven Branwen studying their Knowledge, both briefly glancing over to sneak a peek at their squadmate's new appearances. They were later taken to a Military Learning Institute, marched into one of its buildings and gathered around a massive hunk of metal that Taiyang barely identified as a gun.

 

“This, cadets,” began Captain Powell, “is the M1919A4 machine gun. It weighs thirty one pounds and fires 30-06 Springfield ammunition at a rate of five hundred rounds per minute up to fifteen hundred yards away. Furthermore, it is fed by a single 250-round ammunition belt. You, cadets, will not be handling this weapon as it is a loan from the United States Army, and is destined for Denmark after today.”

 

The disappointment from some of the cadets was palpable. However, Captain Powell placated them by showing them how to disassemble a Browning Automatic Rifle, sufficient compensation for the time being. After being shown how to take this weapon apart, they were taken back to barracks for lectures on how to address superiors, how to organize the various gear they would be getting tomorrow, and a preview of the “fun events” the next day as well.

 

One by one, the four new cadets filed back into their dorm. Taiyang took a chair, sighing heavily. It had been a long day, and he was barely two days into Induction Week.

“What,” Qrow asked, “giving up already?”

“No, just...tired, I guess.”

Qrow scoffed. “Real world's going to be a lot harder than this, Xiao Long. Gotta learn to suck it up.”

“Gee, real comforting.”

“He's right, you know,” Raven said, turning the corner. “We're signing up for heavy-duty work here. It's not gonna be easy.”

“I don't think any of us doubted that,” Rose said. “I knew it'd be hard.”

 

“Did you?” Raven countered, raising an eyebrow. “Was anyone in your family military?”

“My dad died in Italy fighting the Germans.”

“Sorry to hear that,” Raven said. “What about you, Xiao Long?”

“My dad was Navy in World War Two,” he explained. “I'm the first to go to college, be an officer.”

“If you survive,” Qrow reminded him.

“What's your deal, anyway?” Taiyang asked. “Do you just not like me, or is it something else?”

“Nah. I'm just realistic. This academy doesn't hand out commissions like some others do.”

“We've all heard the stories, Branwen,” Rose said. “Only the top 1% earn a commission from here.”

 

“Exactly,” Qrow said, wagging a finger at her. “Now's the time to either get down to brass tacks, or shut the hell up and let the rest of us work.”

“All this talk about military backgrounds,” Taiyang said, “and I don't think I heard if your family has any.”

“Don't know, don't care,” Qrow said, shrugging. “I'm here to blaze my own path.”

Banging came at their door. “Lights out! Go to sleep!”

 


 

 

They were woken up early again, by another hellish cacophony of trash can lids and blunt instruments. They were formed up quickly, informed they would be competing in the Ultimate Company Challenge, and paired with a direct order from First Sergeant Ahearn that they would beat all other companies, or he would have them do PT until they died. Given how serious the First Sergeant usually was, Taiyang didn't doubt this threat.

 

They also were informed that they would be getting uniforms and gear today, courtesy of the American people. It was impressed upon them that they should treat all equipment given to them by the government with care and respect, and that anyone caught not doing so would be punished severely. How they planned to enforce this, Taiyang didn't know.

 

The sun had barely risen as they headed out onto the campus, subjected to volley after volley of physical exercises, including but certainly not limited to, pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups and a bizarre exercise that had them move a giant tire around the drill field. After three hours, they had been gathered back in front of their barracks and informed that Golf company had crushed the day's exercises, earning first place among the companies. Four others still had to go, though, so there was a chance their first-place victory could be knocked out.

 

Further exercises included carrying water cans across the drill field, pushing a car around a parking lot, and water exercises. For those who hadn't learned how to swim, like Qrow, they were given basic swimming lessons and then shoved out of the pool.

 

Once the exercises had been completed, they were rounded up again and sent to the supply depot, where waiting sergeants began measuring them, threw uniforms and gear, and haphazardly tossed boots into the air. Soon, the supply depot was a sea of confused cadets holding green clothes and black boots, desperately trying to fit them all in a garrison bag before the sergeants lost their patience. They returned to the barracks to put their newly-granted items in their rooms, and then collected back in the Pit to receive lectures on proper uniform wear and lessons on how to make their rooms inspection-ready.

 

Another day, another exhausted Taiyang. He could hear Summer and Raven in the next room, talking about tomorrow's events. All they knew was it was at a place called the Emerald Forest, part of a supposed “fun” day. Given how First Sergeant Ahearn thought PT was a good time, none of them felt that his words had any truth to them.

 

“You hear anything about this place before you come here, Tai?” Qrow asked, stretching his back out.

“Nah, I came here blind, really.”

“Hmm,” Qrow said, turning his attention to a rogue fingernail.

Suddenly, Raven appeared around the corner, dragging Rose with her by the wrist. “Hey, guys, listen to this, Summer here's a total redneck, it's awesome.”

“Aw, come on, Raven…” Rose complained.

“No, no, no,” Raven said, trying to placate her. “It's cool. We're all friends here, yeah? Come on, I think it's cool. What was it you said you did over the summers back home?”

 

Rose sighed, closing her eyes and shaking her head. “I hunted gators.”

Qrow let out a massive belly laugh, while Taiyang just stared, halfway shocked and surprised. “Oh man,” Qrow said, still laughing. “That's a good one, sis. No, really, what was it you did, Rose? Help Mama out with making a quilt or two?”

“No,” Rose said, frowning. “I hunted gators. My father taught me when I was about nine, and...well, I've been doing it since.”

“Bull,” Qrow shot back, matching her frown. “No way you could handle that.”

 

“Hey, if you wanna come to the bayou, I'll show you. I've bagged over sixty gators, and that's all confirmed.”

“Wait,” Taiyang asked, confused. “I thought you said your dad died in Italy?”

Rose nodded. “He did. My dad died, but my mom remarried when I was, uh…six I think? That sounds about right.”

“Huh, alright then,” he said.

 

“Well, what do you do with the gators after?” Qrow asked.

“Skin 'em and sell them, usually. Sometimes we eat them, but that's only if we get small ones. The big ones do better at the market.”

“Wow, Taiyang said. “My perspective of you has completely changed.”

Banging came at their door, followed quickly by the usual order to stop talking, turn off their lights, and go to sleep.

 


 

 

Once again, they were waken up early. It was still dark when they marched outside, first for inspection and then again to the drill field. Today, their exercises were of a different variety. Their squads were assembled, and one by one each squad was sent up to face the gauntlet ahead of them. Sergeant Murphy stood at the drill field, standing next to a litter with water cans on it.

 

“Listen up, Golf!” he shouted. “Delta company took our number one spot. What is our company motto, Lightbulbs?”

“Never conquered, always feared, Sergeant!” they shouted.

“That's right! Golf, your objective today is to take this stretcher, which represents a casualty, out to that traffic cone and then back here as fast as you can! Do not drop your buddy, cadets! If you drop your buddy, I swear to every God on Earth I will fucking wreck you, do you understand me?”

“Yes, Sergeant!”

 

Sergeant Murphy grabbed a clipboard and a pen, ordering Taiyang and his squad to step up. Taiyang took up the rear with Rose, while the Branwen siblings were up front. Taiyang could feel the wood already start to dig into the palms of his hands. A whistle was blown, and they started running. Unexpectedly, the cans were full of water, making them even heavier than he expected.

“Move!” Raven shouted, pulling the stretcher with her as she rounded the corner. “What the hell are you doing?!”

 

Their task here done, Taiyang and his squad got a moment of rest, watching the others run a back and forth line across the drill field. They rotated to another station, with more water-filled cans laid out in front of them. They were divided into two formations, separated about half the length of a football field. Individually, they would pick up these cans and run them back and forth as many times and as fast as possible before five minutes were up.

 

Once again, Taiyang was one of the first. He grabbed a water can, lifting it up and taking it into both of his arms, and once the whistle had been blown, broke into a dead sprint across the drill field. He could hear the water sloshing as he ran, feel the metal dig into his elbows and chest as he tried to keep it upright.

 


 

 

Another early morning. This time, there was no saluting the flag outside, or a morning formation in the Pit. Today, they were marched outside and into waiting buses, taken to some landscape far away from the campus. It was still dark as they were led off the buses and then began a night march towards the Ranger Station, without a hint of sunlight until well after they had been walking for far longer than Taiyang thought his legs had the strength for. No talking was allowed, and water breaks were strictly forbidden. At the Ranger Station, they were again reorganized into their companies, and after hearing some rather inspiring speeches from senior officers about the value of teamwork, cooperation, and self-confidence, all of which they'd be learning about today, breakfast was handed out.

 

Unfortunately, this breakfast consisted of the sergeants opening up a box labeled “Ration, Combat” and tossing small cardboard boxes to them. Taiyang opened his up to see a collection of small cans, one of which was labeled “Boned Chicken,” while the others supposedly had cookies, white bread, jam, and meat loaf. There also was another, smaller can, labeled an accessory pack that had cigarettes, gum, coffee and other various items. It wasn't food from the chow hall, but it was better than nothing. There wasn't a way for them to heat up their meats, and so all Taiyang could do was eat it cold. Hardly a gourmet meal, but food was food.

 

Once breakfast was finished, they were again organized into their companies, where Golf was marched up a hill. Upon reaching the top of the hill, they were told that their company got the honor of being first to descend the cliff, a training exercise intended to instill in the new cadets enough self-confidence to fuel an armored battalion.

 

Ahead of him, Taiyang could see a visibly unnerved Qrow. He tapped Qrow on the shoulder, causing him to nearly jump into the sky.

“You alright there, Qrow?”

“Not good with heights,” he said, shaking.

“You know they're not gonna let us get hurt here, right?” Taiyang asked.

“Doesn't help much.”

 

“Move up!” a sergeant shouted, gesturing for them to do so. Ahead of them, Taiyang could see the first few cadets from Golf being hooked up to lines, with sergeants guiding them on how to properly descend the cliff. Another sergeant prowled the lines, but he didn't wear the insignia of the Lighthouse Brigade. A red 1 was stitched into his uniform. He knew this – the Big Red One, the US Army's 1st Infantry Division. He walked past them, then stopped, his boots crunching on the ground as he pivoted to face him and Qrow.

 

“What's your name, cadet?”

“Qrow Branwen, sergeant!”

“Why the hell are you shaking so much?”

“I don't do well with heights, sergeant!”

The sergeant stared him down, before looking among the other cadets of Golf. He rubbed his fingers on his chin, and then looked back to Qrow again. “Cadet, when you get to the cliff, find my line. I'll take care of you, do you understand that?”

“Yes, sergeant!”

 

The sergeant walked away, allowing Qrow to relax at least a little. It didn't last long, though, because soon a sergeant from Golf descended on him, practically sprinting to reach him.

“Branwen, do you know what just happened?”

“A sergeant talked to me, sergeant?”

“A real US Army sergeant just talked to you, he said. “A man whose d one more than you ever will just talked to you. Show him some goddamn respect when you get to his line, Branwen, or so help me God I will smoke you until your asshole is sucking buttermilk!”

“Yes, sergeant!”

 

Slowly, the line moved up, and eventually it was Qrow and Taiyang's turn to go down the cliff. He took a deep breath, preparing himself to descend the cliff, but his attention – and the attention of more than a few nearby sergeants – was taken away by the Big Red One sergeant shouting at Qrow.

 

“Shut the fuck up and listen to me!” he shouted, holding the rope tight. “You will calm down. You will balance yourself. You will climb down this cliff, do you understand me?!”

“Yes, sergeant!”

“Then stop freaking the fuck out and do it already!”

“Yes, sergeant!”

 

Taiyang turned away from Qrow – he had his own path down the cliff to negotiate. He kept himself together better than Qrow did, that was for sure, and made it to the ground with only a few minor scares. Once Qrow, and then the rest of Golf, made it down the cliff, they rotated to another station, where they learned to tie ropes. Taiyang was pretty good at this – he had learned a lot about rope and knot tying as a Boy Scout, and Dad had taught him a few Navy knots. The sergeants didn't like the Navy knots.

 

After another few hours, Taiyang, and by default, his squad, learned how to properly crawly through dirt and mud, how to build a foxhole, and had a test of willpower by walking over a rope bridge suspended fifteen feet high above a river. Their day ended with a march back to campus, with seemingly endless rounds of physical punishment for unspecified crimes. The company was released to dinner, which consisted mostly vegetables with a few noodle options and some sort of meat. After dinner, more exercises until they were sent to their rooms for the night.

 

Qrow flopped on his bed, groaning as he fell on his face into the pillow.

“You OK there, Branwen?”

“Does it look like I'm OK?” Qrow asked. “Fuck that cliff.”

“Well...uh, maybe you won't have to deal with it again?”

“I sure as hell hope not.”

 


 

 

Their week in hell came to an end with the dreaded Black Mountain run. By the time the week ended, Qrow, Taiyang, Rose, and Raven had formed a coherent team, even if they were unsure which of them would survive the four years at Beacon. The run was difficult, torturous even, but Taiyang had managed to do it anyway. They were no longer mere Lightbulbs, the derogatory name given to new cadets, but now full members of the Lighthouse Brigade.

 

Dad and Mom hadn't stayed long, having to take care of repairs around the house. It was a blessing and a curse, really. He had enough time to show them around a little, and for Dad to give Taiyang a congratulations for surviving, and wishing him good luck. Mom told him she was proud of him, and that she hoped he'd make it through his four years safely. Taiyang returned to the barracks, earning a promised precious few hours of relaxation before he and his squadmates were to start cleaning their dorm and the barracks a whole. There'd be a company-wide inspection that evening, and First Sergeant Ahearn had demanded a spotless building.

 

After hanging out in his room for a few minutes, Raven and Qrow came in, alone.

“Hey, Qrow, Raven,” Taiyang said. “Your parents come?”

Qrow barely glanced his way as he walked into the dorm, getting on his bed. “Nah.”

“Our parents didn't even care we came here,” Raven said, flipping away an errant lock of hair out of her face.

Before Raven or Qrow could settle into their respective rooms, Rose came in, with her parents and two other people who Taiyang assumed to be cousins or maybe siblings in tow. She gestured to their little room grandly, as if presenting it to them.

 

“And this is our room!” Rose said, smiling wide. “This is my roommate, Raven, her brother Qrow, and that's Xiao Long over there!”

“Oh my,” Rose's mom said, her deep Southern drawl exaggerating every word. “Co-ed dorms, I don't know about this school, Ed.”

'Ed', Rose's stepfather apparently, grunted. “Well. Our little girl wants to be a soldier, Bethany. Long as these boys don't do nothin', I figure it ain't all bad.”

Qrow barely moved from his bed, only lazily waving his hand to the newcomers. “Hey there,” he called.

Taiyang stood up, walking over to extend a hand to Rose's parents. “Hi, glad to meet you both. Rose has told us a lot about you.”

Her stepfather stared back with a blank look, narrowing his eyes as he cautiously took Taiyang's hand. “Don't know how much I like you. What was yer name? Chow Long?”

Taiyang chuckled, trying to mask how intimidated he was. “Uh, no sir, Xiao Long. It was a pleasure having your daughter in our squad, Mr. Rose.”

 

“Hmm,” he said, slowly blinking.

Within seconds, Rose appeared by her stepfather's side, tugging at his arm and out of the room. “Papa, come on,” she said insistently. “I wanna show y'all the guns they got here! I learned all about them!”

Her stepfather's face lit up as he turned, following Rose out of the room. “Guns, huh?”

Taiyang held his breath as Rose's family left, only letting it out once they had successfully evacuated the room. His hand felt like it had been crushed by Mr. Rose's vice grip as he tried in vain to stretch his hand out again. He could faintly hear Raven fail to suppress laughter behind him. Well, it didn't matter much anyway. He had to clean his dorm, and see if he could help out with the rest of the barracks.