“I don't care what the recruiters say. You are not joining the military.” Ivor's father stood firm, glaring at his son.
Ivor squared his shoulders and looked his father in the eyes. “I already have. I ship out in the morning.”
“I'll lock you in your room.” His mother radiated fury.
“You do that and I get arrested for going AWOL,” Ivor said. “Besides, I've already got a bunk in the barracks. I was going to sleep there tonight.” He turned his back on his parents. “I came home to give you the courtesy of letting you know where I was going. I don't care of you approve or not.”
“If you leave, you're cut off. No money, no family, nothing.” His father's words burned in his ears.
“If that's the way it has to be,” Ivor said. He reached into his duffel and pulled out a small credit chip. He set it on a table on his way out the door. He heard his mother's strident cries, but he ignored them.
He walked down to the street where Nicolai was waiting for him. “As bad as you thought?” Nicolai asked as Ivor got into the hover.
“I don't want to talk about it,” Ivor said. His anger was rapidly cooling, leaving an emptiness in his gut.
“Did yours disown you like mine did me?” Nicolai asked. “I'm cut off completely. No money, no family, no home to return to.”
“Mine did the same.” Ivor's anger returned. “What do they expect? We're at the top of our class for anything related to do with the Net, we're both in top shape physically, and we have this need to protect everyone we love. Why can't they just accept us?”
“Because we're not only the top of our class,” Nicolai said. “We also come from wealthy families. You know how much of a difference that makes.”
“I'm not letting it stop me from doing this,” Ivor said.
“Neither am I. I'm also willing to bet there are others like us who are giving up literally everything to join the military,” Nicolai said.
“There's no shortage of children in our sector of the city,” Ivor said. “It's not as if someone will go hungry if we leave.”