Well, I've run my mouth enough on Discord... it's time to start delivering the goods.
For those of you who weren't on OPF, or didn't venture to the writer's corner, Kingsguard is a story I started over there where users created their characters and I turned them in to story. I got pretty far in, and I had a lot of fun writing it. When OPF went offline, it was something I was planning on continuing, but without a home it felt weird. However, VCC came around, and rather than re-upload all 64+(!) chapters here, I thought I'd give the series a fresh start, in the form of a reboot, to commemorate the new forum. Because a lot of the earlier chapters were written while users were still submitting characters etc., what it started as was very different to what it became. The story didn't even have a name when I started it, lol.
For those of you who read Kingsguard: first of all, thanks for reading it. I am by no means a professional writer, nor an oustandingly gifted amateur, but I will say I've improved over the course of the story. So as my thank you gift, here's that same story again, but with 2 and a half years of writing practice behind it. There will be events you recognise from the "original" version, and hopefully this re-telling is unique enough (and adds enough detail) that reading them again is fun. Don't expect all the "old" story content to be the same, though... there are changes incoming.
For all readers, old and new - I present Kingsguard. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: New Beginnings
A particular day, on a particular battlefield in the nation of Hiraeth. Rain pours down from the sky. What were once the streets of a vibrant town full of life are now the site of one of the nation’s most tragic incidents. As the buildings are slowly consumed by walls of flame, the shadow of a fifteen-metre tall automaton can be seen making its way down the street. It approaches a young woman, kneeling over two unconscious bodies, protecting them as if both her life and theirs depended on it. She looks up to see the giant enemy towering above her, its right arm readying an almighty swing that would certainly extinguish her life. With no strength left to fight, she could only close her eyes and say a final prayer as she waited to be flung through the nearest building. However, when she was eventually swept off her feet, the sensation wasn’t one of pain. Rather, it was… warm? As she opened her eyes, she saw the giant enemy moving away from her. Looking down, she saw the insignia of the Kingsguard, the nation’s army, embossed on a matte black broadsword. As the soldier who had rescued her from harm put her down, the girl looked frantically towards the place she had been moments before. Sensing her unease, the soldier turned to look.
“Oi. Something wrong?” the soldier asked.
“My parents,” the girl replied, pointing to the two bodies she had been shielding earlier. “They’re still alive, but they’re out cold. They were helping the evacuation and-”
“Got it,” the soldier replied, cutting the girl off. “No time to lose. I’ll go get them.”
“I’ll come with you.” The girl, determined to be of help to the one who saved her, headed back towards the battle, only for the soldier to extend his arm out in front of her, blocking her path.
“Civilians shouldn’t be anywhere near the field of battle,” he replied bluntly.
Before the girl could protest any further, the soldier was already halfway to her parents. As she ran, she shouted in the soldier’s direction.
“Wait! At least let me say-”
As she spoke, she saw the enemy ready to strike, just as the soldier had managed to stack her parents on top of the same shoulder she had been carried by moments before. She watched as his head turned, his left hand gripping the handle of his blade. However, before he could strike, two other soldiers, whose faces were much more familiar, swooped in to save him. After a brief exchange, the soldier carrying her parents headed back towards her.
“Come with me,” the soldier instructed, “We need to get your parents somewhere safe.”
“Are you sure? I can take them from here. I’m a student at the Kingsguard Academy, I can-”
“Until you’re on the battlefield with us, you’re a civilian,” the solider replied bluntly. “Besides. If you’re a student, you’ll recognise those two soldiers.”
“Commanders Noah and Sprazi of the Elite...”
“Exactly. They’ll be fine. Now come, let’s go.”
The girl and the soldier quickly darted into a side street, heading towards relative safety.
On the Battlefield. Commanders Rowan Noah and Enrico Sprazi are fighting a losing battle against the giant foe.
“Shit… this thing just keeps getting faster.” Sprazi grumbled, as he fired a series of shots towards the enemy’s head. As it raised its arms to guard, Noah darted in at its ankles, attempting to slice through its feet with his blades. However, as he did, he was kicked forcefully away, his body crashing in to a building.
“Noah… you good?” Sprazi asked through his headset, a hint of concern in his voice.
“I’m alive, barely…” Noah replied, pulling himself slowly out of the rubble. “That hurt a lot, though.”
“Tch, of course it would, idiot…”
As Sprazi shot quips at his partner, his concentration dropped for just a fraction of a second.
January 16th, 2252. 11. Diana Chirch, aged 14, is on a train from her hometown in the western mountains of Hiraeth, on her way to Kingston, the old capital. On her way to start a new life as a student at the Kingsguard Academy, she is woken up by a news bulletin on the television in her train carriage.
“Good day, and welcome to Dreamcorp News. My name is Drake Svensson. News just in from the Kingsguard, one month after the tragic event widely dubbed as the “FlameBot Incident” that resulted in the loss of two Elite commanders, the Kingsguard’s Chief Operating Officer, General Rio Em Rose announced the promotion of 22-year old captain Marko de Polaris to the position of Elite commander, making him the youngest to do so in the Kingsguard history. De Polaris’ appointment comes just weeks after the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Bot Wars, which have caused untold destruction across Hiraeth, without showing signs of stopping. Kingsguard analysts have questioned the selection of de Polaris over more experienced soldiers, however Em Rose, the man widely regarded as “Hiraeth’s Mightiest Hero”, refuted these criticisms, stating that de Polaris’ selection was “an obvious decision to anyone with a moment of battlefield experience”. More as it comes.”
As the broadcast cut to advertisements, Chirch sighed, reaching into her bag for her lunchbox and a brochure. As she made her way through her food, she peered over the brochure for what must have been the hundredth time.
Kingsguard Academy – Information for New Students.
Admiring the pictures of the campus, and intently reading the testimonials of students past, she could feel herself getting excited. Up until now, she had been home-schooled, and hadn’t had much chance to meet other people her age. However, with that excitement came nerves. Would she get along with the kids in her class? What if the girls were as mean as the ones from that movie she watched?
After admiring the pictures of the dorms one last time, she put the brochure away. The more she read it, the slower time felt as she waited to get off the train and arrive at her new school. Opting to instead look out of the window, she took in scenery that was very different to the quiet environment she had grown up in. Skyscrapers and shopping malls were a stark contrast to the clear rivers and lush forests from her home, and would take some getting used to. As much as she relished the prospect of 24-hour takeout, she knew she’d miss having some of nature’s finest views right on her doorstep. As she daydreamed about what her new life would be like, time passed by quicker than she’d noticed. Two and a half hours of idle fantasy later, an announcement came on over the PA system.
“This train is now approaching Kingston, where this service terminates. Please take all your belongings with you.”
Snapping back to reality, Chirch packed up her belongings from the table. Slinging her backpack over her shoulder, she shuffled from her seat in to the aisle. She pulled down her suitcase and the carry case that held her bow and arrow, and made her way to the carriage doors. As the train reached its final destination, she waited for the doors to open.
“Thank you for riding the Dreamliner. We hope to see you again on your next journey.”
As she climbed down to the platform, she took a moment to absorb her surroundings. The walkways that ran over the station platforms were packed with people. Departure boards elicited sighs from busy commuters as services were delayed by 2 minutes. Her awe, however, was interrupted by a fellow commuter bumping in to her and walking past without so much as acknowledging her. As she made her way off the platform, she kept an eye out for the two students in Kingsguard Academy uniform that would be picking her up. Surely enough, standing by the newsagents were two students, one male, one female, holding a sign saying “WELCOME, CHIRCH!”. She made her way over to them. The female student, a copper-haired girl with what appeared to be a robotic left arm, walked over to greet her.
“You’re Chirch, right?” she asked.
“Y-yeah. And you are… Tsubaki?”
The girl shook her head. “No. Tsubaki couldn’t make it today, so I’m here as her replacement. My name’s Eve, and my friend holding the sign over there is XO,” Eve said, pointing to XO, who waved back. XO, a blonde-haired, well-built young man, walked over.
“Can I help you with your bags?” he asked.
Chirch nervously shook her head. “I’m okay…”
“Okay. The Academy’s a few stops away on the subway, but we thought we’d give you a quick tour of the city first if that’s okay?” XO asked.
Chirch nodded. Not that she had much choice. As the trio walked out of the station and into the city, Eve began to point out important landmarks. Most of this information went in one ear and out of the other for Chirch, as she was too busy concentrating on not letting her senses overload. The city was bustling, with giant advertising boards and stores selling clothing brands she’d never heard of grabbing her attention. Most importantly, she spotted a McPolo’s as they came up to a road crossing. Before she knew it, the city tour was over, and they were entering the subway.
“So Chirch, you’re entering the solider program, right?” Eve asked.
“Are you excited?”
As the light turned green, the trio crossed the road.
“XO’s on the medics program, and I’m on the engineering program.” Eve explained. “But even though we aren’t in the same field as you, we’ve been at the academy for three years, so if you have any questions feel free to ask.”
“Uh… is the food good?” Chirch asked.
XO laughed. “Well, I usually cook for myself, but canteen food is… well, it’s fine.”
“Do you cook, Chirch?” Eve asked.
“Yeah. I suck at it, though.”
“Well, if you ever need tips, I’d be happy to help.” XO replied happily.
“XO thinks he’s some kind of master chef.” Eve quipped.
“Well, at least I don’t eat cup noodles every day… unlike somebody.”
2. Kingsguard Academy – East Dormitory Reception.
“So… East Dormitory. This is where you’ll be staying this year. XO and I are in this block as well, so if you need anything you’re free to knock on our door.”
“Thanks.” Chirch replied. Even though she hadn’t known the two of them long, she felt sincerity behind Eve’s words.
“We’re just waiting for Professor Black to come. She’s got your room keys and she’ll be joining us for your tour.” XO explained. Just as soon as those words came out of his mouth, a voice could be heard in the distance.
“Ah! You’re here already! Sorry I’m late!”
A svelte, strawberry blonde woman in a tall, thin pair of heels came wobbling towards the students. As she approached, she stumbled slightly.
Taken aback at how clumsy she seemed, Chirch couldn’t help but comment. “She’s kinda…”
XO and Eve then replied at the same time.
Eve shook her head at XO, who merely shrugged in response. As the woman approached, she took a few seconds to fix her shirt and adjust her glasses, before extending her hand out to Chirch.
“Chirch, isn’t it? I’m Professor Black. I teach anatomy and physiology at the Academy.”
Chirch shook her hand, nodding politely.
“Well, it looks like we’re all here.” Professor Black said cheerfully. She then handed Chirch an envelope with a set of keys enclosed. “Here’s your room key, and your key to the dormitory building. Leave your bags by the reception, and then we’ll get going on our tour!”
2. Kingsguard Academy – Campus.
As the group arrived on the main campus, Chirch was taken aback at how much bigger it was in person. The dormitory blocks were impressive enough, but the academy itself was almost breathtaking. A series of stone paths were woven between each building, which were diverse in architecture; ranging from traditional, red-brick buildings to more modern installations.
“I’m sure you know about this already, but in case you don’t, I’ll give you a quick run down of the Kingsguard Academy.” Professor Black began to rattle off the “Academy Tour” script she had gotten so accustomed to giving over the years. “The Kingsguard Academy is made up of three schools – the Soldier Academy, the Machina & Engineering School, and the Medical School. All three are state-of-the art, and graduates who choose to join the Kingsguard often go on to hold high-ranking positions. Engineers and medics leave the Academy with university graduate-level knowledge, and even if they choose not to join the Kingsguard, they often go on to become leading figures in their field. Outside of specialist training, students also get an elite-level education, with all students obtaining a high school diploma within their first year of study. As such, the Academy is very selective with regards to who’s let in.”
Chirch nodded along with the Professor’s explanations. A nervous sweat came over her as she remembered the written exam she had to take to get in; an exam she passed by the skin of her teeth.
“Now, since you’re on the soldier program, we’ll start by going around the Soldier Academy. Once that’s done, we’ll take a quick tour around the other schools, where Eve and XO will hopefully explain a little about what goes on there.”
The group stood in the centre of the campus, where all the buildings could be seen. Professor Black pointed due north to the Soldier Academy, which consisted of a conglomerate of three buildings, connected by paths. In the centre of these paths stood two statues, presumably of former soldiers. Professor Black began to explain each building’s purpose to Chirch.
“The buildings on your right and left are the two Soldier training facilities. Each one is equipped with training rooms, combat simulation rooms, a pool and a gymnasium. The one on the left is the one used during teaching, and there’s an outdoor training space at the back. The one on the right is for free practice, and is open 24 hours a day. The building in the centre is the classroom block. Oh, and if you’re curious… those statues are new. The one on the left is of the man known as the Kingsguard’s First Hero, Alexander Moss, who graduated in the Kingsguard’s first graduating class back in 2180. The one on the right is of Rio Em Rose from the class of 2220, who I’m sure needs no introduction.”
“Huh…” Chirch certainly didn’t recognise those statues. They weren’t in any of the booklets she got in her welcome pack.
“If you ask me, they could do with some statues of female soldiers… I guess that’s something for you to work towards, Chirch.” Professor Black joked. Chirch shuffled nervously in response.
“Uhh... anyway! I’ll show you around the Soldier Academy now.”
3. Kingsguard Academy – Machina & Engineering School. A group of eccentric, cubist buildings, it plays home to some of the Academy’s most expensive toys. The group are inside one of the engineering labs.
“So, the Machina & Engineering school trains both engineers and machina pilots. You’ve seen machina on TV before, right Chirch?” Eve asked.
Chirch nodded. “The big things they use to fight bigger bots. Some of them are pretty cool… I like the one with the electric whip.”
Eve chuckled. “Well, some machina pilots like to use their engineering background to customise their machina… or rather, they get an engineer to do most of the hard work for them.”
“You haven’t even joined the Kingsguard, and yet you sound bitter already…” XO joked.
“Well, Kai… an old friend of ours used to get me to do all his maintenance.” Eve explained. “What a pain.”
“So, do you just learn how to build and repair machina here?” Professor Black asked, steering the conversation back on topic.
“No.” Eve answered. “That’s a lot of what we do, but the engineering school also work on creating weapons and armour for soldiers, as well as the communication headsets that are used on the battlefield. The people that get all the credit in the news are the soldiers, but the ones that keep the Kingsguard running are us.”
XO snorted, the medic-in-training clearly disagreeing with her statement. Eve looked at him disapprovingly.
“Anyway… if you look outside, the big yard out there is where the machina pilots do their combat training. If you get time, you should come and watch. It’s pretty cool to see two giant bots wrestle each other to the ground.” Eve continued. “Uhh… that’s it, I think. Anything else, Professor?”
“Just some trivia for you.” Professor Black replied. “In terms of numbers, the pilot school tends to be the smallest, though recently it’s started growing in numbers because of the rise to prominence of a certain machina pilot.”
“Almost made me want to switch schools, she did.” XO joked.
Professor Black and Eve shook their heads disapprovingly.
“The soldiers are the ones that get the most credit, and they tend to be the most famous.” Professor Black continued. “I guess something about facing giant hunks of metal that can kill you using just a sword and your wits appeals to people. Not that we’re discrediting the work soldiers do.”
“Not at all.” Eve replied. “If the engineers are the brains of the operation, the soldiers are the muscle.”
“And speaking of all these body metaphors,” XO interjected, “It’s time to go to the medical school.”
3. Kingsguard Medical School. A traditional, red-brick building with several wings that evokes the feeling of being at a prestigious university. XO sits on the lectern at the front of one of the lecture halls.
“So, there’s not much new to show at the medical school, but if you take anatomy electives in second, third or fourth year, this is where you’ll go. Most of the building is classrooms, but we have a series of emergency training rooms and simulation rooms that help us hone skills ranging from basic CPR to advanced field medicine.” XO explained.
“We train a range of medics here, from field medics, who provide emergency care on the battlefield, to traditional surgeons and physicians.” Professor Black added. “The medical course is probably the most intensive, since we only have four years to turn a high-school student into a trained doctor. Not many graduates go straight in to the Kingsguard, with many opting to spend a few years training in hospital, or indeed joining a traditional medical school, before joining up with the Kingsguard.”
“What about you, XO?” Chirch asked.
“Me? I’m planning to join the Kingsguard as a field medic next year. I am top of my class, you know.” XO answered, his chest puffed.
“And you never shut up about it.” Eve retorted.
4. Kingsguard Academy – East Dormitory: Chirch’s room.
As Chirch finished putting the last of her clothes in her wardrobe, she sprawled herself out on the bed. Letting out a long, loud sigh, she stared at the ceiling for a while. She’d finally made it to the Academy. Looking over to her bedside table, she picked up the photo frame that was sitting on it. After staring intently at it for a moment, she sat up. Placing the picture back on the side table, she looked to her bedroom door, where her bow and arrow were sitting. Ready to go out and train, she looked over at the picture one last time.
“Grandma… I’ll do you proud.”
As Chirch headed to the door, full of determination, her stomach began to grumble.
“… right after I eat.”
"The girl" - A civilian/Academy student caught up on the battlefield.
"The soldier" - A man with little time for pleasantries.
Rowan Noah - ex-Elite Commander.
Enrico Sprazi (named after sprasle ) - ex-Elite Commander.
Christina Choi as Diana Chirch - New student, future soldier. And most importantly, hungry.
sweetjacky as Eve Jackson - Engineer in training. Unimpressed with XO's jokes.
Chaud as "XO" - Pervy Howser, M.D.
Professor Black (named after BlackDuck ) - "Hot for Teacher"