Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter, Obi Wan recovered from his injuries from the terrorist attack and a civil war started. And now on with the story.
James froze as he saw the sender of the e-mail. It was the e-mail address of the Sim Nation Army. The subject line was even more foreboding. Draft Decision. He shakily opened the e-mail, glad that his parents were out running errands with Uncle Obi. Glad that his younger cousin was at school.
The e-mail read:
Dear James Zenteri,
You have been chosen to join the army in an effort to win the Civil War. If you have a medical condition that has cropped up since your physical was done to determine draft status, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
You are to report to the Starlight Shores Basic Training Office no later than one week from today.
Thank you for your service to your country.
2LT Nathan Adams
As James finished reading the e-mail he heard his father yell down that they were home. “Alright!” James yelled back up shakily.
It didn’t take long for him to hear Uncle Obi, “Anything you want to talk about?”
James sighed, “In a few hours. When Albus gets home. I don’t want to have to say it twice.”
Obi nodded and pulled his nephew into a hug. “I understand.”
James gave his uncle an odd look when he broke the hug.
“James. There’s a civil war going on. The military has started drafting people since we aren’t winning and need more people. You had your physical for the draft last month. I’m smart enough to put the pieces together. I had hoped that none of us would get chosen. But we’re a big enough family, it was bound to happen to one of us Rands.”
A few hours later and Albus was home. James called a family meeting.
When everyone had gathered, he said simply, “I’ve been drafted. I’m sorry, Mom.”
“When do you have to report?” Max asked after pulling Leia in close.
“No later than one week from today.”
And the week went by too quickly for James. He said his goodbyes to his family and assured his mother that he would be careful before heading for basic training.
He mingled with the others who were drafted. Terena Sarrasri had come here all the way from Sunset Valley. She had the brightest blue eyes he had ever seen. She was his age and like his mother had a twin sister.
Then there was Isaiah Mathiasen. He was obviously a werewolf and was at least a good six to seven years older than him and the name was vaguely familiar. But before he could really talk to him much, they were called to attention.
General Canderous Rand stepped out to greet the trainees and froze for a second. He wasn’t expecting to see his nephew there. And by the look on the kid’s face, he wasn’t expecting his uncle either.
“Welcome. I know none of you want to be here. And I truly am sorry that it has come to needing to draft people. I truly am. We all know someone who has been drafted.” General Rand started.
“Liar! I bet none of your family got drafted!” a voice called out.
“Actually sir,” James said, “At least one of his family did get drafted.”
“And how in the world would you know?” the voice said.
“I’m his nephew. I apologize for interrupting, General Rand. Won’t happen again, Sir.”
Canderous couldn’t help but smile a bit at his nephew’s actions. “Anyway. You all have been chosen to train as a special squad of soldiers. Though I’m beginning to doubt one choice. Only twelve of you will succeed. Those of you who do not qualify will join the general ranks.”
“And I bet your nephew will make it in because…”
“He will make it in if he qualifies. And only if he qualifies. Your name is?”
The briefing was soon over and bunk mates were assigned. James got Isaiah and sighed in relief. He didn’t want to be paired with Ethan. Isaiah had said that he was glad that he didn’t have family here. He had said he had some big shoes to fill and not being in his father’s shadow was definitely helping his confidence.
And over the course of the first few weeks, James settled in nicely. If he was to judge performances, he knew he was one of the top performing trainees. Isaiah was right there with him. And surprisingly, Terena was keeping up with the guys.
And James, Isaiah, and Terena quickly became friends. And it didn’t take long for others to join their group of friends. Sergei Volkov was one. He had been in the ROTC program at Starlight Shores when the letter came. He said pretty much all of them had gotten the letters and were sent to various basic training centers across Sim Nation. He was a couple of years older than James and Terena. Derek Winters was another. He had a wife and kid back home. He was a member of the Sim City police when he got the e-mail.
As for Isaiah, James was playing foosball one afternoon during a break and said, “Your last name is vaguely familiar.”
“It should be. If Canderous Rand is your uncle, then Atton Rand is your grandfather. Atton Rand and my father Alistair Mathiasen were best friends before Atton passed away.”
“Shit! I should have made that connection. Mathiasen isn’t all that common and you’re a werewolf. My parents mention your father from time to time when reminiscing about Grandpa Atton. I wish I could have met him.”
James and Ethan quickly became rivals. Trying to outdo each other. Or well, at least Ethan was. James just tried to do his best. He didn’t care about being the best and couldn’t help that he was. And Ethan would also give him a bad time about having it easy and being the best due to his uncle being the head guy here.
“Ethan, what in the world is your problem with me? My uncle doesn’t even judge the tasks since I’m in them. Do you think my uncle wants me here? Wants me going off to war where I could possibly die? Wants me in a special ops team that will be sent to the more dangerous parts where I’ll be more likely to get hurt or die?” James said, after one too many accusations of being on top due to family connections.
“The other judges know you’re his nephew so you get painted with a tint of his color. You weren’t in the ROTC like me or Sergei. Yet we have to watch you get the best marks!”
“Ferrell, do not speak for me,” Sergei said coming up behind James, “I have no issues with my friend here getting top marks. I know I’m not the best. And lay off the kid. The kid has an impressive set of relatives and it’s no wonder he’s showing us all up. His great-grandfather is Sinbad Rand, the Master Thief of Moonlight Falls while he was alive. His great aunt was Revan and we all know what she did. Another of his uncles is Wolfgang Rand. Youngest spy in Sim Nation history. And we all know what he did before that. And his father is Maximus Zenteri and his mother is Leia Zenteri. And don’t tell me you haven’t heard of them!”
Ferrell blinked. He had not made the connection that was so obvious. General Rand was related to some very powerful and very talented Sims. It shouldn’t have surprised him that his nephew was just as talented. But he still felt that the kid was getting a boost in his scores because of his relatives.
“Actually my mother is still a Rand. My parents never actually married,” James said and shrugged, “And I really don’t like being compared to my relatives. I’m me. Not them. I want to rise and fall based on my own performance and my own potential.”
And months went on. Ferrell and James remained rivals, but the bitterness had gone down some for Ferrell, but had not gone away. And soon their quickened basic training was over and the twelve Sims for the two special teams were about to be chosen. General Rand had come out with the list.
“Alright. Moment we’ve all been waiting for. Who goes to special ops and who joins the regular army. There are two special ops teams. SO1 and SO2. You will be collectively part of Unit 352 in order to remain more anonymous and harder to track. The members of Special Ops 1 are as follows along with your new ranks: Corporal James Zenteri, Specialist Ethan Ferrell, Specialist Isaiah Mathiasen, Private First Class Terena Sarrasri, Private First Class Sergei Volkov, and Private First Class Derek Winters. The members of Special Ops 2 are as follows along with your new ranks: Corporal Eliana Lux, Specialist Donovan Jones, Specialist Dorian Rex, Private First Class, Xander Coleman, Private First Class Jesse Fitzgerald, and Private First Class Viktor Jarek.” General Rand announced.
James sighed. He had hoped that Ethan would have been in the other team. The guy was good. But on the same team was likely to pose problems.
“I want to see Corporal Zenteri and Specialist Ferrell now,” General Rand said.
“Zenteri and Ferrell, I understand you two don’t quite get along,” General Rand said.
“I wouldn’t call it not getting along, Sir” James said, “We’re rivals. Our rivalry only increases how well we do since we strive to be better than each other.”
“As long as the rivalry doesn’t cause dangerous situations, I do not have a problem with the rivalry existing. Dismissed.”
James headed off and Ferrell was right behind him.
“Why did you paint our relationship in that manner, Zenteri? I’ve been nothing but a thorn in your side.”
“Because you are good. You aren’t incompetent or stupid. And I know you’ll put any feelings you have towards me behind you when we’re out on the battlefield.”
And that’s it for this chapter! Will Ferrell be able to stuff his feelings towards James or is James’ trust in Ferrell misplaced? Will the Special Ops teams be able to turn the tide of the war? Find out in chapters to come.
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases – Completed about 21 cases
- Snoop 10 locations – Snooped 5 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings – Wrote 1 paper
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 4 of each
Progress towards Leia’s Goals:
- Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 9
- Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Paint 20 paintings – Painted 16 paintings
- Be friends with parents – Completed Chapter 3.7 behind the scenes.
- Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13 at $6,828
- Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive) – Painted Max’s, behind the scenes Chapter 3.14, painted Hermione’s behind the scenes Chapter 3.15
- Join book club (if applicable) – Joined book club Chapter 3.10 behind the scenes
Progress towards Max’s goals:
- Join Film career (Plumbob Pictures Backlot, may need to place it) – Achieved behind the scenes Chapter 3.1
- Max writing – Level 3
- Max charisma – Level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Become level 5 celebrity – 5 stars – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13
- Have kid – Achieved Chapter 3.10 with the birth of Hermione
- Reach Level 10 of the Actor branch – Level 10 – Superstar Actor – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 8, Athletic is at 10
- Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – currently earning $4000+ a week – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Maximus – Superstar Actor – Superstar Actor – Level 10 – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
- James – Become Astronaut
And this chapter also reveals my generation 4 heir: James Zenteri. And the generation goals are Military.
- Join Military Career
- Level Ten Military Career
- Max Athletic skill
- Max Hardiness skill
- Buy out a business
Progress towards James’ goals:
- Join Military Career – Completed Chapter 4.0
- Level Ten Military Career
- Max Athletic skill – He’s at level 3
- Max Hardiness skill
- Buy out a business