1 Hello World... I need a refund.

Azamir's father used to tell him that life is full of potential. The limit to your aspirations is only found at the limit of your perseverance. In truth, he looked up to his father. His dad stuck his neck out and left the average path of the common citizen to work as a freelancer for many years and always brought back wondrous stories of conflict, intrigue, and mysteries of romance.

His childhood was great until the vrax plague that was sweeping the colony four years ago took his father down from a well-known freelancer in the sector to a destitute invalid.

With a struggling wife juggling work and full-time care of her husband and Azamir who just graduated the mandatory planetary primary school. Life doesn't look quite as optimistic as his father made it seem.

With the loans, Azamir's father took out to support their family and keep him in school bearing down on his mother and Azamir himself, and his father's deteriorating condition... let's just say sometimes he wished life gave out refunds. However, with hat in hand, Azamir made his way to the academy's last day and recruitment drive event to finally enable him to take over some of his mother's burden.

The recruitment drive is bustling this time of year in the republic. With the academies pumping out their latest class of hopeful students both the government and companies offer opportunities to the latest graduates hoping to separate the wheat from the chaff before they move off-world to better pastures.

It is here among the throng of students a figure approaches the main recruitment screen to register for the event.

"Name?" the flickering screen projects out of its speakers. "Azamir Ternum," the figure said hoping that it doesn't pull any relevant files of his family. Most companies don't like to hire students with freelancers for parents, they say it promotes "unhealthy lack of commitment and rejection of authority figures". It's just because they don't want anyone to realize that they could ask for something better than what that company could provide. At least that's what Azamir's father always told him.

The recruitment Kiosk takes a minute to note his responses to provide a general outlook on his candidate profile. "Please verify the information on screen for accuracy" the Kiosk stated. Azamir looked down at the layout of the screen that overlaid his basic information.

Name: [Azamir Ternum]

Race: [Human]

Hair Color: [Auburn]

Eye Color: [Blue]

Age: [20]

Height: [195 cm]

Weight [92 kg]

Job Preference [Unlisted]

Education: [General studies]

"It's sparse but I guess they got the basics down," Azamir grunted and thumbed the verification button on the screen to move on. The computer then projected multiple employers, universities, and prospective groups to apply towards with directions to the appropriate booths nearby. Azamir gripped his datapad tightly as he made his way towards the hall among the other students.

He needed a job to get out of these loans!

Ever since his father was waylaid from his contract at Falcons Reach Mercenary company he took out loans subsidized by the state to help support his family. The idea was that he would earn back what he got in debt after he had recovered but sadly he still hasn't been able to make it out of bed! what makes things worse is that since he was not injured during a job the mercenary insurance didn't cover him!

That was four years ago! the subsidized term of the loan had come and gone and his 500,000 credit loan is now subject to interest! Azamir got a look at the loan documents beforehand and found out that the interest rate equates to an additional 75,000 credits a year! if he can't help reduce his family's debt his father and mother would become nothing more than paupers on the street!

He had told his mother that he would step up after his studies to help support them and now it was time to live up to his promise. Azamir's mother thought that the effort while appreciated, would ultimately be unable to even put a dent in their payments and attempted to encourage him to go off on his own and leave the family issues to his parents as it was not his burden to bear.

As Azamir entered the doors of the recruitment hall he was bombarded by the chatter of students hollering at company representatives trying to garner their attention. He balked at the sheer number of students in the room.

"Was my class this large before? it seems like there are a ridiculous number of students this year!" Azamir Said out loud. A nearby receptionist sighed and said to him "it's not just your class this year looking for a job. The recent downturn in the economy has hit the city hard. you have several unemployed alumni looking for work here too."

Azamir grimaced at the news knowing his less than average grades would make it difficult to stand out amongst this crowd. The only thing he had been good at was in the athletic martial arts team and his historical battle tactics course he had taken for fun! The receptionist walked over and patted Azamir on the shoulder, "don't let the numbers get you down! you won't get a job if you don't try. now get in there!"

Azamir nodded at the encouragement and thanked the receptionist for the kind word before stepping into the middle of the room. He took a look at his datapad to get an overview of what his options were for the next hour and a half.

"Hmm, it looks like there are about 20 different booths here... that's too many to hit at once. I have to be specific with who I talk to!" Azamir scrolled through the datapad and eliminated the companies that he thought wouldn't make a great fit for him. After looking through the potentials he had come down to three promising options to choose from.

The first was with a mining consortium located on his home planet of Ostacre with mining jobs in the asteroid belt near the moons. If he could get in as a miner and hit a good mineral load it was standard for the company to give him a cut of the profits! The only problem was the likelihood of him getting lucky, he would need many major paydays to set back those loans!

The second choice was much safer working for the Ostacre Government Military. The local position came with the much-needed relief to the interest rate on his family's loan since it came from the government in the first place! It was one of the few guaranteed ways Azamir could make sure his parents were taken care of! The only major setback Azamir could see is that it takes forever to get promoted and earn good pay. Unless he fought in a war to earn merit bonus's he would never be able to get out of that position!

Finally, the third choice was in the same line of work his father had done. The local Mercenary company Wayland's Raiders was actively recruiting hopeful merc candidates. The job was dangerous, no doubt about that. But the payout was very lucrative! Every job had an even split of the profits for the mission, Azamir even remembered the times where his father would return home with a payment of 80,000 credits from just one mission! That's more than most people make in a year! He could have done more if he had signed up as an independent company with the Mercenary review board but Azamir's father wanted the security of an established group.

"Enough of the analyzing, its time to go!" Azamir looked up and headed off to each of the group's recruitment booths.

The first recruiter for the mining consortium MinStar was a burly fellow, tall and had a grizzled look about him. If it wasn't for the business attire people could have easily mistaken for a bodyguard! "Enough! if I needed a skinny pencil pusher I would have said so! we need real workers for fieldwork! if it wasn't for MinStar telling me to interview everyone that came up I wouldn't have even glanced at your resume! now leave! your wasting everyone's time." The representative chewed out the poor prospect in front of Azamir before sending him away. The prospective student quickly escaped looking as if he had just dodged a bullet!

The representative looked over at Azamir and waved him forward "cmon now, no need to be scared on his behalf." Azamir swallowed before approaching and quickly handed over his datapad with resume "I saw that you had a few positions open for your mining fieldwork. I am hardworking and willing to go on the deep dive jobs if necessary." The representative smiled and nodded in satisfaction. "Good! it's about time someone came up with the clout to take on the real work." The two started discussing the position and got to know each other over the next few minutes.

"You seem to be a good lad, the position pays 25,000 a year with bonuses for your yield for half of all profits gained off of loads over your normal quota. If you want to apply take my card and we will chat." The rep pushed his digital card over to Azamirs datapad before moving to the next prospect in line. Azamir thanked him and moved on to his next choice.

The Government representative was a tall and shrewd looking attendant in military attire. She assessed every candidate quickly without even discussing opportunities. "You are fit for these three positions," she said to the candidate before Azamir as he approached. "Details have been sent to your datapad if you wish to apply. NEXT!" The student immediately left, not wanting to be near her for longer than they had to!

Azamir straightened up and presented himself towards the representative. "Hello..." He started to speak before she interrupted him " nope, it's easier if I just check your resume. Too many prospects to get to in a day to be wasting time talking," she reached out her pad to connect with his before taking a look at his resume at a speed that would have boggled average recruiters.

"Hmm, Average grades. the only class that stands out is battlefield tactics. Best to apply as an officer trainee. Details on the position have been sent to you. NEXT!" She waved Azamir off after their brief interaction. Azamir thought it was a bit brash to get thrown scraps and pushed away but he saw the representatives giving better treatment to the experienced and top students of his class. He could only fault his lack of drive before his father's illness.

Between helping his mother with her odd jobs and taking care of his ill father the lack of time left Azamir unable to keep up with the extra studying required to make top marks. It was all he could do to swallow his pride and move on to his final choice.

As Azamir approached the location of the mercenary recruitment area he noticed a crowd formed around the booth with a sign that said [Testing Area] above the crowd. He moved into the crowd to get a better look at what all the commotion was about.

Azamir got to see a student thrown to the ground outside the impromptu staging area by an athletic-looking woman wearing a stripped-down Wayland Raiders uniform witch was coveralls and a form-fitting combat vac suit without the jacket. She looked about 25 years of age with short bob cut jet black hair that lined her angular face complemented by a lean and athletic build. As she dismissed the last unfortunate student from the ring she had looked out at the crowd and Azamir noticed a scar over her right eye making her feminine looks more fierce than he initially thought.

She had spoken out to the crowd "listen up hopefuls! there is no point in going through an interview if you cannot get past a simple sparring match."

"For the sake of the newbies that just arrived looking for the chance to interview. Each need to pass my test! Look at the ring around you! Your goal is to earn points. 10 points allow you to move on in the interview process. By removing me from the ring you earn 5 points and 2.5 points for every minute you stay in the ring. Note that getting me to surrender will also net you 10 points!" The Mercenary stated and revealed a predatory grin. "However if you surrender or go down and cannot continue I win and you fail the test."

Azamir adopted a contemplative look and thought about the conditions of the test. He thought it best to see a full match before attempting it himself to figure out the best way of beating the test. Azamir didn't wait long as a hulk of a man approached the testing ring.

"look at that, Pax is having a go at it! I would feel bad for the merc if she hadn't been thrashing everyone to get in the ring!" Several students chattered around the crowd waiting to witness the fight. Hopeful that this student could regain their dignity and complete the test!

Pax entered the ring and smirked at the woman "I hope they don't mind me breaking you. I am in a hurry to sign up with the MRB." He Flexed his muscles and gripped his right shoulder while bringing his right arm out in a circle. "it's only going to take one shot!" The woman quirked her eyebrow before waving him forward "very well, let's see what you got big guy!"

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Pax approached the woman slowly with a grin and made for a big haymaker punch! She dodged it deftly and cajoled "wow my old man swings faster than that! and he's dead!"

Pax grimaced in anger and charged the woman with his arms wide. Only to be dodged again! She continued to taunt him while backing away. "You don't think I was just going to stand there did you?"

Never did Pax think he was going to be humiliated in front of his fellow peers! By a woman at that! He was always the strongest in classes and repeatedly beat other students in any contest of athletics or martial arts with pure strength! Pax charged the woman again in an attempt to pin her down!

The woman immediately sidestepped and kicked the back of his right knee causing him to kneel! Pax attempted to turn and swat her away but she stepped into his strike and deflected it! Only to answer with a palm strike straight to the throat!

The woman stepped back to watch pax fall over in an attempt to catch his breath wheezing all the while "that's not fair..." Pax choked out.

The woman looked down at him and chuckled "no fight is a fair one big guy," She looked out amongst the crowd again "remember! size means nothing if you cannot use it to your advantage!" Two other mercenaries picked the hulking man up off the ring so the test could continue. Meanwhile, the students were dumbfounded at how easily Pax was taken down by the woman. "This test is too intense! there is no way we can pass!" The other students complained around the ring.

Before Azamir took a step up a man spoke up next to him "it's no wonder the poor guy went down so fast, the Wayland Witch would be a troubling opponent for any student. Let alone a seasoned merc to face in hand to hand combat" The man looked over, Azamir noted his bland appearance with a dirty mess of brown hair with tinted glasses covering his eyes. "Are you going to challenge her?" the man asked with amusement. Azamir gave him a questioning look and replied, "I intend to yes, why do you ask?"

The man chuckled "oh it's just mild curiosity," he held out his hand to Azamir. "I wish you luck with your trial!" Azamir shook hands with the man and upon contact felt a prick on his finger and pulled away quickly.

"ah!" Azamir exclaimed. He looked at the pinprick welling with blood and up at the man with a mild look of shock "oh my boy! Terribly sorry, it must have been something on my bracelet or clothing that caught you. Don't worry about that though, look it's your turn now!" The man pointed towards the ring causing Azamir to turn and notice he was. in fact, next to go.

"By the way, I didn't catch your name...?" Azamir turned back around to find the man gone from where he was standing a moment ago. Shrugging the event off as a quirky chance meeting he began to focus on the upcoming trial with the so-called Wayland Witch.

"Next participant!" an assistant called once the ring was reset.

Azamir stepped into the ring and eyed the woman in front of him. "She is more experienced in combat than me, I have got to use something to my advantage!" Azamir thought to himself. The woman spoke "Are you nervous? I don't have all day you know."

Azamir stayed silent as the two started to circle one another. He noted that the trial area has a decent amount of sand making the footing slightly unstable. He found it harder to think as the pinprick from just a moment ago was starting to throb in his hand.

Azamir looked down for just a moment to make a fist and looked up only to find that she was already right in front of him! Azamir had been in few fights during school and his basic sparring training with his father kicked in a second too late! The woman threw an elbow to his face and Azamir dodged outside and pushed his left hand against her stomach to press her back only to get clocked on the back of the head when she swung back. He had leaned too far into the dodge!

Azamir was shaken momentarily and rubbed the back of his head where he had been hit. The throbbing pain in his hand had disappeared! He smiled and went back to focus on the fight when she had come at him again with a high kick! Left with few options he dropped down to dodge and ended up slipping to the floor! The woman's kick flew overhead before coming back down in an ax kick! Eyes wide, Azamir rolled to the right just before her foot stomped down and sprayed a bit of sand on his face causing him to wipe his eyes... "Somethings blinking? I must have gotten hit," Azamir thought to himself.

As Azamir stood he noticed a flashing image in the corner of his vision and focused on it.

[System Initialization successful: user high stress detected, enter combat mode?]


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