Damn mercenaries . . . is there nothing you parasites won’t do for some coin?
-General Voorhees, during the siege of Castle Blackhorn
Gast Academy is a major mercenary academy located on Hafland. Their base of operations is the northern island, in the steep mountains and snow. Although most academies maintain neutral independence, Gast Academy has developed a synergistic relationship with the rest of Hafland. A quarter of the cadets serve on a rotating schedule as peacekeepers for the main island, and in return, they are fed contracts by the city.
As of 728, Gast Academy has a population of 268K; 81K are cadets, 9K are faculty/staff, and 178K are full-fledged mercenaries. Despite the rising number of cadets joining the academy, the number of people who call themselves mercenaries is still relatively low. Rare is the mercenary that makes it to their 40s, as most have either retired from injuries, found safer jobs, or died.
Gast Academy wasn’t always on Hafland. In fact, the academy has a long history dating back to the Peasant King’s Rebellion. It was during this war-ravaged time-period, one Joan Bellona rose to prominence. At only fifteen, Joan joined the Peasant King’s army in 44 FA; despite her young age, she stood at an imposing height of 6’ 5”, gaining her the nickname Giantess. Her size combined with a natural affinity for warfare gave her a quick path up through the ranks, garnering the respect of her comrades as she led them on victorious raids against the loyalists. Her time in the Peasant King’s army wouldn’t last, though. Around 27 FA, disgusted with the outright murder of innocents from defeated loyalist states, she left with her closest comrades and formed an independent force called Gast Battalion.
Gast Battalion, although an independent operation from the Peasant King, still held the same goal of driving the Radiant Empire off Magna Tellus. So, Joan’s forces found themselves fighting alongside the Peasant King’s on many occasions out of necessity.
When the Populo Federation was formed, Joan and the rest of Gast Battalion refused to join. Joan understood better than anyone the brutalities of war, but she upheld a loose motto of “do no evil.” The Peasant King’s actions during the war—though necessary, some might argue—was undoubtedly “evil” in many senses of the word. Brutal tactics designed to inflict suffering, murder of prisoners and those who surrendered to the Peasant King, slaughtering civilian families . . . these are but a few of the often brushed over war crimes committed in the name of human independence. Gast Battalion, which avoided such extreme actions, was loath to let such leadership take control of them.
The Populo Federation, unhappy with Joan’s unwillingness to join, forced her to disband Gast Battalion. Civilian life would prove too difficult for Joan, now a veteran with 44 years of experience under her belt. Luckily for her, the years immediately following Magna Tellus’s independence was rife with problems that needed to be solved. While the Populo Federation continued their war against the kavi, Joan and her band of ex-soldiers found work as mercenaries, helping those the young Populo Federation government couldn’t. They rebuilt homes, helped settle wild frontiers, and fended off monsters and bandits alike. Even the Populo Federation (though begrudgingly at first) contracted her mercenaries to help secure the Green Coast against kavi assaults. By 12 AT, Joan had gathered enough wealth to establish Gast Academy.
The years leading up to the Long War’s Treaty became a Golden Age for mercenaries, where many of the academies we know of today rose to prominence. So, by the time peace had finally come, mercenaries were a way of life for the people, and the academies became establishments recognized by the Populo Federation. The kavi experienced a similar movement in the Radiant Empire, with sister academies being established on Aahana. Opportunity, it seems, is something neither kavi nor human can resist.
During the Sailor’s War, the Populo Federation contracted mercenaries from multiple academies to fight alongside their armies. Gast Academy was one, and it was during the heated battles on Hafland that the Proconsul of the time: Roland Moreau, saw the potential for expansion. Immediately after the war, Roland relocated Gast Academy into the abandoned forts on the island mountain, spending vast amounts of the academy’s treasury in the process. It was considered a controversial move at the time, with many of his Legates voicing their disapproval, but the decision would prove to be a stroke of genius in the long run. Roland established Gast Academy as the sole protector of the island, positioning the academy as a political powerhouse on Hafland. When trade finally opened to the Populo Federation and Radiant Empire, the academy’s wealth boomed along with the rest of the island, and created the Gast Academy we know of today.
- Cadet: Fresh students in training are called cadets.
- Mercenary: Cadets that graduate from Gast Academy become full-fledged mercenaries.
- Tribune: These are the teachers who help cadets hone their craft.
- Legate: Every Hall is led by a Legate, who sets the curriculum and organizes the tribunes.
- Proconsul: The leader of Gast Academy is the Proconsul, and all Legates report to him.
Depending on the numbers of years in attendance, a cadet is given a letter rank. The rank denotes how much they have learned, and at the end of every year a cadet must prove proficiency to progress to the next level. Each rank has a nickname among the mercenaries.
|Year of Attendance||Rank||Nickname|
Teams and Ratings
Mercenaries are organized into teams of three. These teams are assigned a hidden ID number for clerical purposes, and a public team name for use everywhere else. Most contracts are fulfilled by a single team, while more advanced contracts have multiple teams working together to achieve their objectives. Fresh cadets are preassigned a team when they first join the academy, but are allowed to form their own groups after graduation—most choose to stick with their given teams because of the comradery built during their years as cadets. Due to the nature of the business, teams are volatile. When a team loses a member, they can add a free agent and continue to do contracts; however, if a team is reduced to just one member, that team is dissolved and the lone survivor becomes a free agent themselves.
Every team is assigned a rating that ranges from 0-1000. Fresh teams start at 0 and work their way up to the maximum of 1000. Generally, a team raises their rating through successfully completing contracts and lose rating by failing them. The higher a team’s rating, the smaller their gains from completing a contract, and the bigger their losses from failing. The exact amount and specific variables that affect it are a closely-guarded secret. Losing members, gaining exceptionally powerful free agents, the time to complete a contract, the degree of success, and other unknowns can all be factors. A team’s rating is a crucial number among mercenaries, as this number determines the kinds of contracts they are allowed to attempt. The more difficult a contract, the higher the team rating required to do it, but also the greater the rewards. Because of this, ratings are also a point of pride among mercenaries, with fierce rivalries existing between teams.
Missions rated 0-250 are considered extremely easy with low chances of being hurt. D-ranked cadets fill up most of these contracts as they are considered grunt work to ease them into mercenary life. C and B-ranked cadets usually take on missions rated 251-500. Mercenaries consider this level to be when one truly starts to gain relevant experience. Most A-ranked cadets can expect their team to graduate with a rating between 501-750. It isn’t uncommon for cadets to die around this rating, as the danger is upped considerably—it’s an unfortunate reality that not all cadets survive through all four years. Teams working in the 751-1000 rating are considered elite mercenaries, taking on the most dangerous, high-profile contracts.
All mercenaries swear allegiance to one of the academies around the world. If one needs to hire a team for work, they must go through an academy to create a contract for their task. In this way, the mercenary academies serve as contract brokers, however the types of contracts an academy is willing to accept differs from one to another. While one may not accept assassination contracts, another will; some specialize in private military work; some only deal in research; there are even academies that only broker contracts with a single nation. The variances are far and wide, and no two academies have the same criteria.
Gast Academy has been particularly successful because of their varied specialties. Its six halls allow it a greater range of contract opportunities, and while they do accept most contracts—even the morally gray ones—they follow their founder’s general rule of “do no evil.”
When a cadet enrolls into Gast Academy, they must join one of six halls of mastery:
Panacea Hall: The Panacea Hall specializes in medicine and chemistry. Their members run the academy’s hospital and count themselves among the best doctors in the world.
Espionage Hall: The Espionage Hall specializes in spycraft and covert operations. Their classrooms are hidden behind locked doors and secret entrances, which can only be entered by solving a weekly cipher or riddle.
Martial Hall: Members of the Martial Hall train in all forms of combat and weapons. Their training fields are located high up in the mountains where the snow is thick and the winds never stop howling.
Wraith Hall: The Wraith Hall teaches members how to commune with the dead and manipulate their spiritual energy. Many of their members can be found at the scene of a fresh murder.
Chanting Hall: The Chanting Hall was created by kavi. They teach their ancient mantras to prospective students, as well as imparting telepathic mastery. Though their numbers are fewest among all the halls, due to the rigorous aptitude test required to get in, a member of the Chanting Hall is invaluable.
Inventors Hall: The Inventors Hall is a research department that has pioneered many breakthroughs in electrical engineering and machinery. Members of this hall can easily be picked out by the grease stains and tools they carry around.
Proconsul: Gabriel Fletcher
- Panacea Hall: Evie Darling
- Espionage Hall: Jure Grand
- Martial Hall: Maximos Lycurgus
- Wraith Hall: Oni Yoshino
- Chanting Hall: Devika Charsath
- Inventors Hall: Zella Krause