The Algrand Imperial Academy.
It was a place where an entire planet was used as a military educational facility.
Urban areas, lush jungles, scorching deserts, fields of ice and snow– all of them were used as training grounds.
Even in space, they focused on nurturing soldiers to support the Empire using ports, warships, and entire space colonies.
I- [Liam Sera Banfield] had entered the military academy and was currently enrolled in the strategy department where the elites were gathered.
The students expected to rise up the ranks to become commanders were put on this course and were given preferential treatment.
In short, basically excellent cadets were gathered here in addition to the nobility.
It’s the place where the elites were supposed to go, but as a future duke, I was able to major in the strategy department regardless of my grades.
General cadets could only enter after achieving great results, but others could enter simply because they were of noble birth.
That’s right, grades didn’t matter as long as they were an aristocrat.
“Birth isn’t everything in this universe, but don’t you think who you’re born as still has a big impact on things?”
The academy’s cafeteria.
While saying that in front of the gross food that emphasised on nutrition, Wallace– whose head was shaved, answered while biting down on some hard bread.
“What’s this so suddenly?”
In the academy, you were basically forced to shave your head.
While women were only allowed to have short hair.
–and so, my head was also shaved unfortunately.
But once I entered into my third year, I’d be allowed a little bit of freedom with my hairstyle.
“Just because I was born into a noble house, that alone gave me the qualifications to enter the elite course.”
I was born as a winner in life and looked down on those who weren’t.
After sending a glance my way, Wallace started looking around at the surroundings.
“Liam, can’t you speak in a smaller voice? Everyone’s eyes are gathered on you.”
Taking in my surroundings, I could see a group of losers glaring at me.
Some of cadets were looking at me quite favourably though.
I’m sure those people were from the nobility. They agreed with my opinion.
“Isn’t it the truth though? If any of them have a complaint, they can say it to me directly.”
But no one approached.
The cadets who were scowling at me turned their eyes away in silence.
That’s what I thought. –They were scared to go against me, a high-noble.
The school was too big to remember the names and faces of all the cadets.
But it was definitely the general cadets who were glaring at me.
This is it. This is what I’m talking about.
This is exactly what I imagined being an evil lord would be like.
As I thought that, some of the senior cadets must’ve been offended by what I said and approached me.
“That’s quite the bullish attitude you’re taking there.”
Wallace was surprised after seeing the upperclassmen.
The military academy was too large to know each and every cadet.
But even I knew who this man was.
After all, he was the valedictorian.
Even though he was also of noble birth, he seemed to have a sense of justice strong enough to stand against me after I harassed the commoners.
–I don’t like him.
“While I heard that your grades were excellent, but to have a personality of that level. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
I hated sarcastic bastards like him.
His hair that was hardened with gel was slicked back.
He was [Dolph Sera Lawrence]– a strange nobleman who still took the sides of commoners.
His body was on the skinny side, but you could still tell he was a trained soldier.
I didn’t like that elitist expression he had on that seemed to say he was a better than everyone else.
“What does this year’s oh so great valedictorian want with me?”
“…that isn’t an attitude you should be taking towards your upperclassmen.”
While he was my senior in the academy, he was also of a lower court-rank than me.
Both as a future duke and as someone who had already succeeded as a count, there was no reason for me to treat someone like him as my equal.
Military discipline? How much do you think I donated to the academy? There’s no doubt that they’ll acquit me.
Wallace was looking my way while shaking his head.
He probably wanted to tell me not to start something, but I hated people that had strong morals.
They reminded me of myself from my previous life.
With a sense of justice that had no reason or logic behind it, they were basically good people.
Surely this guy was angry at me for belittling the commoners.
He was such a good person that he made me want to vomit.
“Why should I care? What’re you gonna do about it?”
I wanted to say that it was him who shouldn’t be addressing me so over-familiarly.
His temper rising, Dolph raised his jaw a little as a blood vessel appeared on his forehead.
“Follow me to the simulation room. I’ll give you a lesson on how you’re supposed to treat your upperclassmen.”
“…if you actually can then by all means.”
With my provocative smile, the cafeteria broke out into a commotion.
“Hey, Liam and Dolph are going to fight in the simulator!”
“Those two are?!”
“This is definitely a must-see!”
Inside of the excited cafeteria, Wallace was the only one hanging his head.
“Liam, why do you always have to–”
◇ ◇ ◇
The simulation room.
Many cadets were gathered to see what was about to happen.
Liam, the top student in the first year, and Dolph, the valedictorian of the sixth, were about to lead their fleets against each other in a simulation battle.
There were many cadets interested in this.
Wallace sighed as he looked over how clearly divided the spectators were.
“As always, Liam is popular among the commoners.”
Supporting Dolph were the aristocrats who hated Liam.
On the other hand, most of the people who supported Liam were just ordinary cadets.
There were a few nobles mixed in there, but the overwhelming majority of them were commoners.
“Nevertheless, to pick fights with nobles in the middle of the cafeteria… and for it to be Dolph of all people.”
Dolph was the second son of the Lawrence house, as well as a true advocate of noble superiority.
To him it was only natural for the aristocrats to receive preferential treatment.
And yet Liam picked a fight by saying, “Just because I was born into a noble house, that alone gave me the qualifications to enter the elite course.”
“This isn’t good. There might be a lot of bad rumours around Dolph, but his skills are the real deal.”
Wallace was worried because of all the senior cadets Liam had to pick a fight with, it just had to be Dolph.
A mere five year difference might seem short, but it actually had a huge effect.
No matter how good Liam was, it’d be difficult to overcome the years of military experience Dolph had over him.
(Well, it’s kind of suspicious how he was able to become the valedictorian though.)
The bad rumours surrounding Dolph mostly stemmed from how he crushed other potential students that threatened his spot at the top.
They said that if there was a cadet who was likely to become his rival, they’d suddenly be forced to drop out because of false charges.
There were even stories about how he hired criminals to take someone’s family hostage unless they dropped out.
(I’m afraid of Liam’s sense of justice, that makes him easily pick fights no matter who the opponent it.)
While he did have a foul mouth, Liam’s morals were strong, and he even had the ability to back it up.
Such a Liam was the hope among the commoners who found the nobility to be an annoyance.
–The simulation started.
As the two people moved their fleets through the control panels, Liam immediately went on the offensive.
But Dolph dismissed those movements as nothing,
“Those tactics might work against pirates, but they’re useless against me.”
Dolph’s provocation might have been cheap, but in truth Liam’s forces were slowly being whittled down.
“A person who only knows assault tactics is nothing to me.”
Liam’s fleet was specialised in offensive maneuvers.
Conversely, Dolph’s fleet was specialised in defensive ones, and the situation was growing more and more unfavourable for Liam.
The organization of their fleets and how they were built was decided before the simulation even started.
This was so your opponent couldn’t prepare countermeasures and to keep things fair.
However, Dolph was acting as if he had known how Liam’s fleet had been organised from the very beginning.
He was using tactics that seemed to know what ships Liam chose and how he was going to move.
(This is bad, Dolph did something.)
As Liam became the one at the disadvantage, the nobles who cheered for Dolph started speaking out.
“What, so this is all that pirate hunting amounts to?”
“Even if this would work against pirates, this is what reality is really like.”
“That redneck from the frontier needs to learn his place.”
The aristocrats started taking bullish attitudes.
Conversely, the commoners were silent despite the fact that they knew the nobles had done something.
If there wasn’t any evidence, their support would only embarrass Liam.
They were certain that Dolph had cheated, but without proof nothing could be done.
(At this rate Liam is going to lose.)
Liam’s situation was so unfavourable that even Wallace could see his defeat.
◇ ◇ ◇
There was a man standing upside down on the ceiling of the simulation room.
He was wearing a top hat that covered his eyes and a tailcoat suit.
Despite that, you could still see his smile.
“…now this is interesting.”
The [Guide] who watched the confrontation between Liam and Dolph was more powerful than he was before.
Thanks to the power he had accumulated in the imperial capital, he was finally freed from his suffering.
However, even now his strength was being eroded from Liam’s gratitude.
If left unattended, then he’d eventually be left writhing in agony again.
Today’s Liam was loved by the people of his territory.
His gratitude had tremendous power behind it when combined with the feelings of his citizens.
While the guide had gathered an amount of power that couldn’t be ignored, it’d still be difficult to make Liam unhappy as he was now.
For this reason, he was watching over the situation for any chance to hurt him– but then he noticed Dolph.
The guide approached Dolph– who currently had an expression full of composure, but no one noticed him.
“This looks like a man whose driven many into despair. One of my favourite kinds of people.”
The man named Dolph had crushed innumerable rivals so that he could be the best.
Many grudges were clinging to his body.
Unlike Liam, he was corrupt aristocrat, making him a wonderful person full of potential.
In addition to that, he seemed to have altered the simulator to guarantee his win.
His thoroughness was very pleasing.
“…I just thought of something fun.”
Saying that, the guide placed his hand on the simulator.
The moment that happened, Dolph’s fleet suddenly began to be pushed back.
Even though Liam’s fleet was one-sidedly losing until now, the difference between them was gradually shrinking.
Dolph was confused.
On the other hand, Liam was smiling.
“I thought you were the valedictorian! Is this all you upperclassmen amount to?! ”
Taking a glance at Liam, the guide burst into laughter while smiling.
“That’s perfect. Goad him on more, Liam. These will become the seeds of your downfall.”
Despite his hate for Liam, the guide made it so that he’d win.
The reason being–
“Damn it! DAMN IT!”
Even though Dolph rushed to move his fleet in response, he ended up creating a gap for Liam to take advantage of, pushing himself into a corner.
“W-why is this happening?!”
Despite being so assured of his victory a minute ago, Dolph fell into a panic and his face went pale.
The guide called out to him.
He even put his hand on his shoulder, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“Dolph, I have high expectations for you. Your defeat here will become a source of motivation to help you grow. While Liam, the person who brought you such humiliation will become someone you will hate with all of your being.”
In truth, Dolph already had a blood vessel bulging on his forehead as he glared at Liam.
To be the best, he had fixed things so that he’d never lose to anyone.
And yet he had humiliatingly lost to Liam, a person several years his junior.
“Over something like this!”
When the simulator announced Liam’s victory, the general cadets broke out in cheers.
On the other hand, the aristocrats looked at Dolph with cold eyes.
“This is our year’s valedictorian?”
“Because he’s an obscene man, I guess he’s only really worth this much.”
“Even though he cheated, for him to lose to Liam that badly…”
They ridiculed him.
Dolph had never been more humiliated in his life.
And that was before Liam called out to him,
“This is because you only know the simulators. It can’t compare to real battle experience gained from actual war. As your senior in life I’d be happy to give you lessons sometime– Dolph.”
The guide happily greeted Liam’s smug attitude with satisfaction.
After all, the way Dolph was glaring at Liam now was absolutely delicious.
The guild smiled at Dolph’s mutterings.
“That’s it. Grow to abhor Liam even more. For you shall be the one to strike him down. I’ll prepare the perfect battlefield for you.”
Now that the guide had enough power to spare, he wanted to slowly tighten the noose around Liam’s neck instead of rushing things.
Reflecting on the pain that he’s suffered so far, he wanted to make sure Liam didn’t do anything outside his expectations.
So that when the time finally came, he’d be able to thoroughly crush him in an instant.
“You better enjoy yourself for now, Liam. Because once you finally lose everything, the expression you’ll make then will be all the sweeter.”
Leaving those parting words, the guide disappeared as he sank into the floor.
The only thing left behind being Dolph, who gritted his teeth as he scowled at Liam.
“–I will never forgive you. Never!”
A future elite who hated Liam was born at that moment.