Counter 12: Bottomless Whirlpool
Fifteen minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
AB Academy grounds, Second Watch Tower area
“I could easily recognize the man standing before me,” one of the intruders evaluates his opponent. “He looks like your regular salary man however,” he surveys the area with his eyes.
Sean and Shin Tenett are twin Ki Masters that this mysterious organization has trained to become their private soldiers. For as long as they can remember, they have been in the organization following a set daily routine of training. All they know is to follow the organization’s orders like mindless puppets.
In an underground facility, they only know as “The Root,” children of unknown origins are being trained in batches. At first, there are probably a hundred of them. They trained in combat every day; from learning martial arts to learning how to use different kinds of weapons. Every year, the Root holds an ability test that all children in each batch participate in. Afterwards, the results are posted and they are ranked.
Sean vaguely remembers that the children at the bottom of the ranks after the yearly exams, disappears quietly. They are never seen again. The same goes to the few who tried to escape the Root. He had heard of some children planning to escape after learning a good amount of skills through their several years of combat training. He and his brother were invited to join, but he refused back then because he has nowhere to go outside that place. After the night, they were to proceed with their escape; none of those children were seen again. Whether they were able to run away or not was a mystery he would rather not know the answer.
The number of children continued to decrease every year until there were just around twenty of them. They learned all sorts of skills from hand combat, weaponry, battle techniques and how to use their powers. Around this time, all that were left were reveils of different classes. In their last combat exam, those who are ranked in top ten were separated.
He and his brother ranked at fourteenth and fifteenth. He has no idea what happened to the top ten. All he knows is that, he and the rest were then sent to complete different missions. Anyone who runs away while in the middle of a mission were immediately dealt with. They were exterminated.
“His job is not some simple office work.” Sean continues to observe. “By looking at his muscular build… He must be well versed in combat. Checking out with his identifying features, this person must be that Crownheit. This school, AB Academy, sure does cater a number of fearsome monsters.”
“Sean,” his brother calls him. “We won’t be getting away unscratched.”
After hearing him, he scoffs. “Worry about that later, Shin.” He tries to keep his composure.
“Our top priority is to keep their strong pieces busy while our comrades secure the item.”
Shin nods at him. Then both of them glare at their opponent.
Isaw Crownheit - male, twenty-seven years old, graduated from this academy seven years ago then he took a masteral degree in physics education and got his certificate after three years of study. He is currently a Physics instructor in this academy. Other than being a teacher, he has no other side jobs. Or so that is what the public documents say, but before becoming a regular teacher, he roamed around the savannah of Lunariah for two and a half months; that was two years ago. That place is a known hunting and training grounds for monster hunters, yet for no particular reason he was there. Alone, he survived living in that place full of powerful wild beasts. He did not leave until a group of licensed monster hunters came across him while he is fighting a pack of Giant Gray Wolves. At that time, his body was already covered with blood and he had already taken down a dozen of them. All the hunters did was stood in shock as he took down another dozen from the pack of wolves. The only reason he stopped was because those hunters took pity on the losing monsters and scared them away with their number. After that incident, rumors about the Blood Cloaked Prince had spread among the hunter’s circle.
“Shin,” he calls softly, “be careful of his touch. No matter what don’t let him touch you.” Sean then pulls the collar of his shirt. He feels like he is being choked by that man’s presence alone.
“I know,” Shin responds while intensely keeping his eyes at the opponent who had only been standing in front of them. Both of Isaw’s hands are resting inside his pockets. “He is an esper and his ability is--” he suddenly stops when that person who is just standing in front of them disappears.
When Sean turns to his right side, a hard punch meets his jaw throwing him off balance. Before he falls, he sees his brother jump backwards to evade the coming spinning kick of that monster.
Sean uses his left hand to support his fall and then follows up an attack using the punching motion of his arm to throw a raw ball of ki at the enemy.
Isaw dodges easily.
“That bastard is so fast at dodging!” He grumbles.
Before Isaw can attack again, Shin fires two beams of ki. However, both are evaded again like he is simply playing a childish game on his own. Fortunately, that countermeasure by Shin has put enough distance between them and the enemy. Sean hurriedly stands back on his feet while the Blood Cloaked Prince puts on his fighting stance while wearing a serious face.
“There were twelve intruders a while ago but ten of them scrammed away the moment they saw me. They left these two odd looking twins.” Isaw talks to himself. “Or are they really twins?" He tilts his head while giving them a weird look. "There is no time to brood over such trivial matter. I just have to deal with these two and I’m done. There is no need to chase after those who ran away, for they will soon meet their surprise on the way. But… I wonder if it’s fine for me to play a bit?”
He observes the fighting stance of the two. For the mean time, it seems that they are on the defensive. Both he and the two enemies are trying to learn about each other’s abilities.
“Yoh~! Intruder one and intruder two!” Isaw raises his voice teasingly. “Are you twins?”
The man in black shirt clicks his tongue.
Isaw immediately knows that he has pissed off one of them. His lips curve up.
Sean clenches his fist and then throws a beam of ki at the smug professor.
Isaw simply steps aside to evade such simple attack. He is trying to read if those people only have a short temper. He wants to play, or rather, exercise a bit. It has been a very long time since he stretched his muscles for an actual battle. Unfortunately, the situation suggests that he must deal with the intruders as quickly as possible. This foolish bunch might put his precious and beloved students in danger.
Sean once again throws another beam of ki at him. Isaw again responds with a simple and swift evasion. To his surprise, another beam follows up quickly.
“I think I know where this is going.”
A rain of glowing ki beams is now flying into his direction one after another. Those are then joined by simultaneous blast of energy balls.
“Woah~! Woah--!!” He shouts while jumping around like a panicking monkey. Those simultaneous attacks are difficult to dodge. “You guys are too serious about this. How about we play something fun? Plain battles are boring.”
Sean clicks his tongue again. “Bastard-!!” He grunts. Shin is about to stop but is then urged to continue by his brother’s voice. “Don’t stop, Shin!” He shouts aggressively as he continues to rain the enemy with beams. For them, it is more advantageous if this professor continues to play around and waste time.
“Their objective is probably something like ‘keeping the professors occupied.’” Isaw tells himself while getting a good read of how skilled his enemies are.
After that short observation, he believes that there is no reason for him to get worked up about anything. With this kind of man power they hold, there is no way they could break through the academy’s defenses. He does not feel anything special from the other ten that left earlier.
There is no need for him to over think things. He must focus on what is in front of him and deal with it accordingly. First things first, he needs to see more of their skill. They keep on firing all those luminous ki leaving him with no space to attack, at least for the time being. Little by little as he warms up his body, he is starting to feel the excitement. It has been years since he is able to let loose.
“I hope they would not blame me if I end up getting a bit overboard.”
Ki is a form of raw mana, it is energy in its pure state. It can be controlled via precise body movements, or by strong mental ability. That is why Ki Masters have developed different codified systems and traditions of combat practices to control and hone their power. The user can control the ki’s size, shape, density and power; however it will always appear as luminous energy without definite details. Ki can be used in both long and close range battles. It is simple and pretty convenient kind of power, or perhaps that is how it appears.
“It is more convenient compared to my ability.” Isaw tells himself while thinking up possible ways to end the battle. “My ability needs a lot of calculating to do, and I really hate that part of it. But, I do appreciate it, at least… the fact that many people mistakes my power for something else.”
After watching their patterns of attack for more or less three minutes, he is now able to determine their differences. The ki beams proves to have more piercing power, he will surely be full of smoking holes if he gets hit. On the other hand, the energy balls have very hot temperature, most likely as hot as the temperature potters use in baking pots. It will not pierce him but it will surely burn him.
“This bastard just keeps on dodging. It feels like he is simply playing around with us.” Shin mutters angrily.
“Shin-!” Sean calls while getting closer to him, then he purposely lowers his voice so that Isaw would not hear. “Don’t forget our real mission isn’t to win.”
“Ah-!!” Their orders snap back into Shin’s head. “I’m sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself.” While he is still engaged at a conversation, he also controls three ki spheres to chase after Isaw. “How are you, though? You got hit a while ago.”
“I’m fine,” he answers. “Keep your mind to yourself.” Then he takes a deep breath and poses to attack once again.
The two are briefed that Isaw Crownheit is an esper whose ability is weight control. He can change the weight of anything that he touches. Sean already received a punch from him. Shin is worried that his brother might already be in danger now.
“I have to be very careful and avoid getting near him at all cost.” Shin grits his teeth as he wonders. “Why does he not attack in return? His footwork is well coordinated. Furthermore, he is using the trees around as shield or hiding spots to impede our attacks. I cannot shake off this feeling, the thought at the back of my head that is telling me that he could defeat us easily… if he desires to do so. He is simply dodging our attacks with such arrogant smirk on his face. No way. Does he have any trick prepared up his sleeve?”
“You seem confused, sir?” A voice suddenly rings beside him.
“Crownheit?!” He leaps backward quickly. “How did he get there so fast?! Did he make himself lighter or something?”
While he evades Isaw’s punches one after another, his brother is waiting for the right chance to attack. If he is not careful, the possibility of getting hit with his brother’s beams is high. In spite the fact that Crownheit is this close, he still cannot make any advances. Isaw is blocking the view that he cannot pin point the location of his ki spheres that is floating somewhere behind him. This professor’s continuous one-two boxing combination is obstructing his form while he dodges.
“SHIN!!!” His brother’s loud voice echoes along with the rustling of trees.
When Shin hears his call, he immediately understands what it means. He is going to attack so he has to distance himself from the enemy.
“Ready or not,” Sean continues as he takes a boxing stance, his legs are one foot away from each other. “I’m going grill that bastard to crisp, this time!”
“This time I know, it does not matter even if I get hit.” Shin tells himself. His resolve is firm.
To lessen the pressure on his brother, he must do his task properly. Shin observes Sean’s footwork, waiting for the right chance to get away from the enemy.
Isaw seems to be too focused on Shin. He is keeping him busy to stop him from taking control of the ki spheres again. Shin notices this and he immediately cooks up a plan to trap him.
“This is my chance, while he is occupied by such thought!” Shin laughs internally.
At the same moment Isaw throws a right straight, Shin also peeks at his brother’s position. Shin dodges to the side and follows up with a powered up jump, leaving a considerable distance away from him. He is now out of his brother’s sight. He is just in the right spot.
Before Isaw can get a clue of what they are planning, Sean fires his strongest beam of ki that could melt metals. In this situation, Isaw may still be able to dodge however he does not have enough time. Even if he evades now, his left side would still be hit. The brothers are sure that he is going to at least lose an arm with this magnitude of attack.
“This end should be enough to take care of your arrogance.” Shin mumbles while wearing a wide smirk.
A crashing sound roars. The plants that are at the ki’s way are burning away. On the spot where Isaw used to stand is an accumulation of dark smoke.
“Did he shield himself? Did he try to evade?” Shin asks while keenly waiting for the smoke to disperse.
The tension of waiting for the result of their teamwork is weighing heavy in them. Their eyes are intensely fixed at that one spot that they do not even dare to blink. They breathe deeply, slowly, yet the lingering chill in their chest does not disappear.
“Not bad,” that familiar voice rings from that same direction. “I was thoroughly entertained. I must thank you… however, play time’s over.”
“It’s the bastard! He’s alive!” Sean’s voice is shaking while he regains his stance.
Shin gulps. The cloud of dust is clearing out. “How could this be?” He mumbles, confused and unsure. “He is looking fine… Why are there pieces of shattered stones around?” Those pieces appear to be a part of single huge stone. “Could it be?..”
The smirk on Isaw’s face tells them that they have already lost.
“I picked it up a while ago,” Isaw says. “I thought it might be useful.” The small shattered stones moved little by little upward.
“Could it be that he had that stone floating above since we started fighting?!” Shin whispers; his voice shaking. “I see now, he used it to block the ki beam; my brother’s power is not strong enough to pierce through a massive rock. The reason why he did not move is because he already has a handy shield with him!
The two intruders quickly whack their brains to think of a way to fight back again. So before Isaw can prepare another attack, Sean immediately throws his usual beam as if he does so with instinct. Meanwhile, Shin re-focuses his mind back on controlling the spheres of ki.
“Oops-! I can’t have you return to your previous tactics anymore, can I?” Isaw grins then he vanishes from his position.
After a single step, they feel something amiss.
“If that giant stone was floating above… then?”
The thought clicks in their head. They slowly look up to confirm what they have in mind. Above, they see a large number of stones and twigs floating like clouds.
“With his weight control, if those rain down on us…”
If Isaw multiplies the weight of those scraps, it will fall like cannon balls mercilessly crushing and burying their bodies.
“Brother, we must leave this spot!” Shin yells.
But then again, where should they escape?..
Twenty-one minutes after two o’clock in the afternoon
AB Academy grounds, recreational area
While the professors are doing their tasks just fine, Asylum is also keeping up well with the job they have at hand. Blair who went ahead first, runs alone from the fourth watch tower going to the recreation area. There, unlike normal school days, the tables and chairs are left empty. There is an emergency protocol to stay inside the dorms, which even the red zone students do not dare to oppose. She stands alone in the recreation area, waiting for the intruders to reach her spot.
Meanwhile, in the red zone students’ point of view, in that uncrowded place, they can only see a gutsy girl defying the school’s direct order. This girl, who is infamous for being unruly, is yet again about to pull another crazy stunt. For the students who can peak into the area, this is merely another show to entertain their normal daily life. However, to their surprise, this entertainment they await to see will later on leave their jaw dropping off their faces.
Not far from the recreation area, the group of intruders is closing in. They are expecting more guards to stop them as they infiltrate deeper into the academy grounds. However this person in front of them is just another student. She is just a girl alone in the middle of this spacious area. Although they notice that her red hair and eyes are very intimidating, they have no reason to be afraid of a mere teenager. The way she stands looking all confident and enthusiastic, seems like she is expecting them.
“Even if that is the case, she is still just one student and I am sure that I can take care of this simple task well enough.” One of the intruders mumbles.
“That one student,” Ito stretches his arm to make everyone stop. He is the one taking command of the group. “Even though alone, don’t underestimate her. This is a school for high ranking reveils, after all. Breath.”
“Understood,” Breath replies. “I am the only reveil here, so I will stay behind and deal with that student.”
“I’ll stay behind as well.” His comrade, Will, voices out. “Breath and I will take a different path afterwards. Whatever happens, we’ll complete our mission.”
After hearing Will, Ito scratches the back of his head and sighs. “Okay, I’ll entrust this to the two of you.” He nods and then waves his hand. “Let’s go Jun, Kai!”
The three of them goes ahead, splitting up with the pair. Now there are two groups, one dealing with Blair and another advancing forward.
Breath and Will are marching straight to that single student standing enveloped with the air of arrogance amidst this ruckus. At this point they still have no idea what kind of ability this student has. For her to have the guts to face the enemies alone, she might as well be very strong. If her ability is ranged attack, Ito’s group will be in danger.
Breath makes eye contact with Will and they immediately understand what each other want. Without talking, they have made a plan. They have to create an opportunity for the others to run. This must not take too long.
“Five people against one?” That red-haired girl says with a wondering tone. “I see, this might be quite fun,” she grins while cracking her knuckles.
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