JANUARY 1ST 2022
At five-forty-five am the intercoms wailed their morning songs, rousing the sleeping members of Macintosh’s squad. For ten minutes straight the song continued, ending only when everyone had gotten out of their bunks and began readying themselves for the day. Mac’s voice came out of the intercom shortly thereafter, warning them all not to be late for breakfast and their daily briefing at seven-fifteen. As members of the squad showered or shaved, stretched or slumped, dressed to the nines or simply decided their pajamas were enough, the chefs in the kitchen were whipping up a fine meal.
Though different scents wafted throughout the island estate, nothing was as strong or as mouthwatering than the smell of fried bacon. When the team arrived in the kitchen, the long bench-like table sported a hefty dip in the center, sagging under the weight of food. A variety of fresh fruit were sliced, quartered, and displayed at either end, as were platters of hotcakes, sausages, potatoes in three different styles (hash browns, homefries, and drowned in butter and herbs), eggs in every style imaginable, pastries, bagels with whatever toppings desired, as well as muffins, milkshakes, coffee, and tea. It was a normal fare for breakfast at Macintosh’s. The only difference between today and yesterday, was the lone balloon tied to a serving platter that held a certain someone’s favorite food.
Macintosh was sitting at his normal spot in the middle of the table, already eating handfuls of bacon and sipping his usual black coffee. He greeted everyone as they arrived with a somewhat sleepy grunt. Per usual, Macintosh said little as the team had their morning conversations and their fill of food. When everyone was finished, however, he stood, cup of coffee in his hand, and spoke to the group as a whole.
“Mornin’ all,” He said without hesitation, “And happy birthday, Vinno.”
He waited a moment, to ensure everyone had the opportunity to wish happy birthday, and then continued.
“We’ll be doing basic training runs today— short and to the point. Once you get through the obstacle course, you’re free to spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Nathan and his subteam will be going first. Riya’s team will go after.” He spared a moment to read all their faces, take another sip of coffee, and then, “Nathan and his team will take care of decorations after their run— meanwhile, team two should focus on finishing any schoolwork left undone for the week.”
Thirty minutes later Nathan and his team were dressed in their training uniforms and about to start the obstacle course. Each course was different in layout, but each tested and trained the same thing: there was running, jumping, scaling, and climbing, and even reactionary impulses. When the course was through, Macintosh asked each to perform something they’d been privately practicing in front of everyone— Nathan being the last to go.
All in all, it lasted about three and a half hours. They were given an hour to freshen up and change before receiving instructions on how to decorate before it was time for the next team to meet in the Sims Training Center. In similar fashion, Riya’s subteam were put through an obstacle course they’ve never been through before and then told to perform something power related in front of everyone.
By then, it was nearing four o’clock and team one was finishing the last of their decorating. Once team two was freshed, they were ushered back into the commons and the kitchen by an intercom message from Macintosh.
“It ain’t often we got somethin’ to celebrate, but today we do. Come on down to the commons and help us celebrate Vinno’s nineteenth birthday!”
The commons itself was bedecked with streamers and balloons and a small stack of birthday presents were piled on the coffee table, which was covered with a shiny red tablecloth. The kitchen was once again alive, the chefs, different from the morning shift, were already preparing a variety of different foods, though snacks lined the table. The head chef stood at Macintosh’s side, awaiting Vinno’s birthday dinner request, while Macintosh himself stood in front of a towering three tiered cake, lit with nineteen candles.
“Happy birthday, Vinno.” Mac said with a rare smile.
“Yeah!” River said from across the room, emptying her lungs into a party blower, her eyes lit with excitement and joy.