Part II: A New Assignment
When the day came, Indigo — or Erna if we went by her real name — escorted me to a bus station in her civilian guise, helping me board the correct vehicle. I had decided to leave my rifle behind at the Legion’s headquarter as I wasn’t going to be of any use; I only had twenty five cartridges and they were in a model that didn’t exist on this world.
The group of people I found myself joining wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. Some were normal enough but others displayed features distinctly not human; odd colored skin, scales, glowing eyes, inhuman muscle mass. Some were not even recognizable as human beings in the first place. In the past weeks, I had learned that beings from other worlds inhabited Earth Aleph but with the Alephi’s paramorphic mutants it was hard to tell which beings were or weren’t from this world.
After a few hours of driving through rainy coast roads we boarded a boat to an island. The island itself had a dark and gloomy feel to it, a thin blanket of mist still leftover from the morning. After some time driving through the woods, the bus came to a halt in front of tall brick wall, a large wrought iron fence gate not far. We stepped off our transport one by one until eighty or so teenagers were waiting on the curb.
One of the world’s heroes came to greet us. In the fifty or so days since I had arrived, I’d learned about Earth Aleph’s ‘superheroes’ and ‘supervillains’; powered individuals who, for reasons which still eluded me, wore garish costumes and had ridiculous themes. The source of their conflict also escaped me, having spent my life fighting to survive, the idea of fighting for ideas seemed so alien to me…
The superhero who had come to greet us was themed around Ravens. People seemed to know him as there was a content murmur among the crowd as he delivered a welcoming speech about making the world better and second chances. Once he was done he divided us into five groups ranging from thirteen to sixteen people.
When one of the girl assigned to our group came toward us, I felt a familiar tingling in my spine. One I would always feel in the presence of other black blood infected. I glanced at her and she wasn’t particularly striking in look; slightly wavy reddish-brown hair that reached her shoulders, a small cluster of pale freckles scattered around her cheeks, she was fairly small in build if a little chubby. The one thing that made her stand out was the wheelchair she sat on. She must’ve noticed me stare as she turned around to face me.
“Hi, I’m Yougen.” She said, smiling and extending a hand.
“Yikaru.” I answered, shaking her hand.
“Nice to meet you.”
When our full group was assembled someone from the academy escorted us to a house on the hilly edges of the walled in property. We went in and the person left us on our own. I scouted around, making a mental map of the place. The ground floor was one big open area with a kitchen, living room and dining area, doors on the right hand side from the entrance led to bedrooms and doors on the left hand side opened into a large communal lavatory and a storeroom holding cleaning supplies, spare beddings, folding furnitures and machines I knew were used to clean clothing.
A cork board held a selection of pamphlet, most of which did not interest me. More importantly was room assignment sheet and a blank chore schedule. I found myself in room six along with someone named ‘Amber Alastria von Alexis.’
I looked around quickly found my room on the second floor. It was different from what I was used to. Instead of all sharing the same barrack, they had divided us into pairs to share a private room. I claimed the right side bed for myself and began sorting my things out, just the things I’d crossed over with and a few more outfits given to me by the Legion.
While I arranged my things in an orderly fashion, just like Captain O’Malley would’ve demanded at the barrack, my roommate came in and showed no such concerns for her things, throwing thing wherever there was space and simply overturning her bag to empty its content into the drawer under the bed.
I took a moment to examine her. She was ungracefully tall and on the thin side despite the muscles on her arms. She had dark hair she just let hang out untamed, reaching the upper part of her back. Out of her black t-shirt came black ink tattoos in jagged and swirling lines. Her wrists were adorned with heavy metal bracers.
“I’m Yikaru.” I said, coming up to her and extending a hand.
“Amber.” She didn’t shake my hand, just finishing to put her things down, propping up a large sword against her desk. “I’m going to grab some grub.” She said before moving past me and going into the kitchen.
I had the distinct feeling we weren’t going to go well together. Within only a minute of knowing her, I’d learned that she was messy, rude and uncaring…
I left our room and followed her downstairs, although choosing not to interact any further. Like her I picked a piece of pizza from the boxes left on the kitchen counter. Pizza was a delicacy that didn’t exist back home but which I had been introduced to by Erna.
As I ate, I felt the tingle of the proximity of black blood growing stronger but Yougen wasn’t in the room. I looked around and my eyes settled on a dark prowling creatures, a thick mane of hair along its back. It slinked around on all four and came toward me, but passed by without so much as a care. I could feel that it was the one triggering my sense.
I hadn’t been told about a third. How could there be one? But most disturbing of all was that they walked around in their non-human form without care. Weren’t they afraid of the infection progressing beyond controllable levels? How irresponsible could they be?
I couldn’t shake the feeling something was off. How could there be three of us just happening to find their way to the same place on the same day? It was definitely something I would have to investigate.