10 Going Viral

Before Erich knew it, three months had come and gone, and the summer had turned to autumn. He had successfully completed his first semester in the Naval Academy, and during this time he had spent nearly every waking hour either doing his class work, or spending time in the holodeck, gaining valuable experience both as a starfighter pilot, and as a naval officer.

What little time he had outside of classes and simulations he spent with his fellow cadets, Fredrik, Karl, and Dolf. All of which seemed far less committed to rising through the ranks of the leaderboard than he was. However, the good times of being free to pursue his own education without fear of unecessary harassment had suddenly come to an end, as an influx of students piled into the Academy, which until now had seemed practically abandoned.

It was no longer just mutants, staff, and a few delinquents trying to make up for failed courses. Instead, those who had spent the summer holiday away from the campus, and in the arms of their wives, were now back at the Academy, and because of this, Erich was forced to sit through a day of orientation for the new class, who were woefully behind him and the other mutants.

In fact, Erich could only look at the wide-eyed young men, who had just started their life as a cadet with pity in his silver eyes, because they would soon be experiencing the pain of death, something that he still found haunting every time he perished in the simulations.

Since women were not permitted to partake in the military, the entire academy was filled with men. Something which seemed much more depressing now that the campus was no longer sparsely populated.

Thus, while dressed in his cadet uniform, Erich sat in a large stadium, which had been prepared for the opening ceremony of the new class. As a man who now ranked in the top 3% of all students at the Naval Academy on Germania, Erich was not sitting in the nosebleeds like his friends, but rather he was front and center, as the Admiral in charge of the university welcomed the new students to their new lives as cadets.

"I look upon all of you, the young men of our great race, who will now begin their years of military service as cadets at this most prestigious academy, and I think to myself, the future of our empire is secure. Here, in the Naval Academy on Germania, you will all gain the experience you need to fulfill you duties as officers in the Imperial Navy.

Some of you will be destined for more relaxed roles, while others will be using your gifts to bring the fight directly to our people's enemies. Regardless, most of you will be spending the next four years of your life here on campus, and because of that, I welcome you to your new home.

Today, you can all relax, and become acquainted with your new lives as cadets, because tomorrow the real training begins."

After the Admiral left the stage, a few other important personnel began making announcements, which Erich tuned out of, simply because he was already familiar with all the rules and regulations of the academy, having already completed a semester over the summer.

Once the opening ceremony was completed, he and the rest of the freshman class were permitted to go about the massive campus that was the Naval Academy. Immediately after walking out of the building, Erich experienced something which he had nearly forgotten existed within the empire. Discrimination against mutants.

He found his friends, Fredrik, Karl, and Dolf, surrounded by a group of new freshman, who were trying to extort them out of their monthly stipends. Something which Erich had already dealt with during his senior year of high school.

However, Erich was different now. He was no longer willing to tolerate being bullied for the color of his hair and eyes. Nor run away from those who sought to cause him trouble. He had endured 3,572 death like experiences since he had first started using the holodeck, each more painful than the last. Because of this, the last thing he feared in this life was something as petty as physical pain.

Thus, while Fredrik, Karl, and Dolf were encircled by a group of bullies, Erich broke through the crowd which was watching the event unfold, and placed a hand on the shoulder of the largest man in the group. No doubt this man had selected to become an officer in the star marines, much like the one who had had gotten expelled on his first day of school for a similar infraction.

As the young man looked over his shoulder to see just who had dared to touch him without his consent, Erich slammed his fist into the man's jaw, knocking him flat on his ass. The other bullies who had gathered around the mutants and were hurling obscenities stared in awe as their leader collapsed to the floor like a bag of bricks.

Seeing that he had completely knocked out a future Star Marine with one punch, Erich glared at the other bullies with his silver eyes before giving them a single warning.

"You little shits… You think just because you have the pleasure of having normal colored hair and eyes that you can bully your superiors? I hate to break it to you, but you are in the military now, and we outrank you! The only thing that matters here in the Navy is one's ability to perform the tasks they are given.

Your bullshit will not be tolerated any longer, so I suggest you readjust your behavior before you get flatlined like this asshole! I deduct 1,000 points from each of you, and 10,000 from this prick, since he is clearly the ringleader of your little entourage. Now get the fuck out of here before I decide you are in need of greater punishment!"

What Erich had said was correct, after spending an entire three months in the academy, proving his leadership abilities, Erich was now what was considered a Cadet Lieutenant, which meant he had the ability to discipline those cadets who were lower in rank than him. This was apparent by the insignia on his uniform which differed from those around him.

Even if Erich had just sucker punched a new cadet, he could simply chalk it up as corporal punishment for any number of behavioral infractions. This was a luxury that the cadets who bullied Erich on his first day of life as a cadet were not protected by, considering that they had not reached the rank of Cadet Ensign, which was the minimal rank required to begin dishing out punishments to other cadets of lower standing.

The fact that this attack was caught on film by the crowd which had gathered around to laugh at the bullying did not matter in the slightest to Erich. If anything, it acted as evidence to support his claims of behavioral infractions.

When he turned around to see the crowd staring in disbelief, his mood turned even more sour, as he screamed at all of them, in a voice that was filled with so much authority, one might forget that Erich was wearing the uniform of a cadet, and not an active duty officer of the Navy.

"What are you fuckers looking at? I suggest you stop wasting your time, and get started on your studies! Dismissed!"

Having seen this Cadet Lieutenant, who was only slightly taller than the average man, absolutely flatline a man significantly bigger than him, nobody wanted to get on Erich's bad side, and followed his orders as if they were law. Which technically speaking, they were.

Once the area was only populated by Erich and his friends, they all sighed in relief before congratulating Erich on properly weaponizing his authority. Karl, in particular, was the first to speak out, as he voiced his disbelief at what he had just witnessed.

"God damn, if I knew I would have the ability to dish out punishment like that to a bunch of assholes, I would have worked harder. I seriously just wasted my biggest advantage over these chuckle fucks!"

A friendly smile emerged on Erich's face as he immediately insulted Karl with friendly banter.

"I kept telling you guys that you needed to focus more on your studies. This is why the system here in the academy gives some pretty sweet perks to guys who not only rise in the leaderboards but also in rank as well. You only have yourself to blame for being so lazy."

Out of the four friends, only Erich had made it to a Cadet Officer rank, and because of this, the rest of the guys would have to rely on him, if in the future they ever encountered another situation like the one they were just forced to endure.

Thus, Erich and his friends decided to grab some lunch before they parted ways for the day. After eating with his friends, Erich would spend the rest of his free time participating in the Holodeck, where he would attempt to raise his rank in the academy, and on the leaderboard even higher than it already was.

---

Little did Erich know it, but the video of him knocking out a future star marine made it onto the grid and immediately went viral. In one of the other core worlds of the Empire, a rising starlet was looking at the grid via her NeuroLink and scoffed in disdain at what she saw.

"Fucking mutants, I can't believe he is able to get away with such a heinous act. The military must be desperate to put a freak like that in any position of power…"

With this in mind, Erika immediately made a comment on the video, which would only cause it to become even more viral, as she spoke about how mutants are a blight on society, and that they shouldn't be permitted to live, even in the forms that were currently considered acceptable by the party.

A sentiment that within mere seconds gained billions of likes from all over the Empire. Seeing that she had thoroughly painted a target on the back of whoever this silver-haired cur was, Erika smiled with satisfaction until hearing her manager's voice on the other side of her changing room door.

"Erika, you have an interview in five minutes. Are you almost done changing?"

The pink-haired idol had completely forgotten about her work, during her brief break, and immediately scrambled to finish changing before bolting out the door with a pretty smile on her stunning face. When her manager saw her, he immediately smiled and complimented the teenage girl on her flawless appearance.

"As always, you are the physical incarnation of the ancient goddess Freyja. Now, hurry up, the hostess of the Lunch Hour isn't going to wait for much longer!"

With this said, Erika was dragged onto yet another stage, where she sat down and shook hands with a woman who was significantly older than herself. The cameras had focused their attention on the young starlet, and the audience applauded her appearance with almost religious fervor before slowly calming down and allowing the hostess to speak.

"Erika, it is good to have you on the show! I can't help but express how big of a fan I am of your work!"

Erika made a pretty smile as she thanked the woman for her kind words before returning the compliment with one of her own.

"Thanks. That means a lot coming from you. I must admit that I am also a huge fan of yours, Mrs. Carlson."

The audience applauded Erika's exceptional manners as the teenage idol waved to them and the cameras while blowing kisses. An act which had trillions of men from across the Empire gluing their eyes to the broadcast. However, in the next moment, the hostess sidelined Erika with a curve ball of a question.

"So Erika, I have to ask, you are considered by many to be the Empire's sweetheart, and yet just a few minutes ago, you left a particularly vicious remark about those more commonly referred to by society as mutants. On a video, I might add, that showed a young Cadet Officer who just so happened to be a mutant, disciplining some new Cadets for multiple behavioral infractions. What caused you to respond in such a way?"

Both Erika and her manager were looking at the hostess with dumbfounded expressions. This was not in the script which they had been given when they agreed to take the interview, and thus Erika, in particular, was at a loss for words as she began to fumble around in her mind for a proper response. After taking a deep breath, she decided to use this moment to engage in a particularly hateful speech against a class of people who could technically be considered disenfranchised by society.

"Well, I'm clearly not the only one who thinks this way. Within minutes, I had billions of likes from across the empire. By now it is likely in the trillions! Let's be honest here, does anyone actually think it is wise to allow these clear genetic defects to continue making a mockery of our great race?

While most of these freaks are rightfully euthanized at birth, the party has, for whatever reasoned determined that a few of these mongrels are unfit for termination. If they were to just live their lives as pawns in our society, to make the rest of our lives easier, I would be fine with that.

However, this young man in the video, is clearly living a life of enormous privilege, he has not only been accepted into the most prestigious naval academy that our Empire has to offer, but has even been given a position of power over normal cadets, it is truly sickening!

I can only say that I am happy that these burdens on our society are not allowed to reproduce, because if they were, our entire lineage as a race would be under threat!"

Contrary to what the host was expecting, not only did the audience cheer and applaud the young woman for her boldness, but even the comments of the livestream were filled with support for Erika, and in a way, her popularity had just jumped to new heights, at the expense of Erich's well being.

Seeing that her trap had only further added to the rising star's popularity, the Hostess immediately switched back to the script. But the damage had already been done, and as a result of Erika's hateful words, Erich would now have a monumental target on his back, as the teenage idol's massive fan base would deliberately target him for harassment in the future.

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