When I woke up again, there wasn’t any light outside. My thoughts went to what had happened last night. I recall waking up from that nightmare and going downstairs to clear my head. I’d met two other students, Gloria and Leo who had rather interesting ideals of their own, they were like complete opposites, almost. As neat as I found their abilities, I didn’t think it was wise to encourage either too much and end up on either one’s bad side. It might be too late in Leo’s case, though I doubted he’d resent me for it in the first place. Gloria had told me that the instructors here were really pro-hero and nothing else, meaning I’d have to not only deal with other students like Leo, but heroes who believed that they were, without a doubt, right about their black-and-white ways.
It was far too early, but I had the feeling I’d get that dream again if I were to go back to sleep. For now, I had to deal with this and went to look for some coffee. They had to have some, right?
It was nice how quiet it was this early in the morning. I was lost in my many thoughts while I went about making some coffee. It took me a second to remember how to do it and I might’ve made it a little too strong. Sitting down with it, I relaxed slightly. Of course, I couldn’t afford even that as my phone rang and I reluctantly answered it.
“Yeah?” I asked, already knowing who it was.
“I just thought I’d remind you to stay in line today. It seems you could do with a reminder from time to time, from what I hear.” Turner said, sounding serious as always.
“What’s that supposed to mean? They gave you more dirt on me, or what?”
“Just don’t do anything rash or stupid. It will make us look bad.”
“Sounds like you hardly know me, old man. Being rash is how I got here, I bet.”
There was silence for a moment. “If you’re to become someone, or even just fit in there, it’ll require you to change, whether you like it or not.”
“The fuck? There is nothing wrong with me! They did tell you something, didn’t they?”
“That doesn’t change anything.” He said after another pause.
“It changes everything if you’re gonna be freaking biased.”
Turner said nothing, but in response I received a pretty nasty shock from the collar. I’d almost forgotten I was even wearing the damn thing. I bit down on my lip and stifled a groan. What was his deal, anyway? I saw that he’d been different before, like he’d opened up when we were talking about those heroes he’d saved. I don’t know. Maybe, like the others with that company, it was better if they hated me as saw that I was constantly below them. In a way, I couldn’t blame him for wanting this, but something deep down both hated him and…was really hurt, I guess.
“Whatever they told you…was it worth fucking me over?” I asked, trying to keep my emotions in check. So far, I was losing.
“Like I said, it doesn’t matter. I need you to focus on the task at hand.”
“Maybe it doesn’t matter to you, but…” I hesitated and silently hated how sappy and stupid I was sounding.
“It does to me. If…you’re going to just push me away, I can almost promise you things will not go as you or as they had planned. And no one has to suffer because of that. Or do they? You tell me.”
He was quiet again and I expected another shock in response.
“You really are a difficult one, you know that?”
“What about it? I’m sure they let you know that, at least.”
Silence again. This was really freaking wearing me down.
“Don’t be late today.” Was all he said before he hung up.
I mumbled angrily to myself and set the stupid phone away. Yeah, if this didn’t deserve another dose of coffee, then I don’t know what did. I stood up to make some more, my thoughts escaping me again. It still stung where the collar was and I scratched it out of irritation. My attention was then drawn to the limiters. I briefly wondered how hard it would be to pry them off. I inched my hand towards the right one but pulled back when I heard something resembling a machine nearby.
I assumed that the others would be waking up and went back to sit down with the cup in my hands. After a few more minutes of pleasant silence, I heard someone come into the kitchen, but I paid no attention to whoever it was. Apparently, they were trying to use that machine of theirs to get a cup which ended up with it shattering. It reminded me of when I’d tried to do the same with my ability. The result had also been the same, pretty much.
“Uhh…hello.” I replied as politely as I could.
“You are quite distinctive. I’m Nalar.”
I turned to look at then and realized that he was one of what the company called “Invaders”. What I’d learned about them once only came from what those above me had dictated, but I later found out that it wasn’t quite as black and white as they’d had me believe. I hadn’t met one before and wasn’t sure what to expect, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to at least be nice.
“Thanks, I guess? I could say the same for yourself.” I said, reminding myself not to piss off the tall, mysterious stranger in front of me.
“Do you happen to have a name?”
“It’s…Nine. I’ve already forgotten the other one, it seems.”
“Nine? That sounds like there’s an interesting story behind that, or did your parents love numbers?” He asked, which had me feeling slightly amused.
“Oh, my parents didn’t give me this name.”
“We have something in common then.” He says with a grin.
“I was Ankiran before the name I have now.”
“Interesting. Nice to meet you, then.” Feeling a little worn out already, I went back to trying to down whatever was left of the possibly cold coffee. Like I expected, it was terrible and I felt no buzz from it.
“Something wrong with your drink?” Nalar asked which had me wondering why he was still watching me.
“It’s so bitter…” I sighed.
He took a drink from the cup and didn’t seem bothered by it. “I have seen others add sugar or milk to theirs, perhaps you should try that?”
“If I add any more, it’ll be mostly that.” I laughed under my breath.
“Different tastes, I guess.” He shrugs and took another sip.
“I’m still so exhausted.” I admitted once I felt my eyes feel heavy again.
“…Not enough sleep.” I chose my words carefully. He didn’t need to know anything else.
“That seems like an easily solvable problem to me, and if not perhaps you should look for a medic?” Nalar said, the concern could be heard on his voice.
“It’s not so simple…” I looked down at the limiters and scratched the skin around them out of irritation.
“Interesting contraptions. What are they for?”
“Well…” I hesitated because I didn’t know whether I should tell him or not. “I don’t know if you want to hear about it as it wasn’t really my choice to wear them to begin with.”
“Why would I not? And if you do not want them, why not remove them?”
“I can’t remove them. I’ll get punished.” I frowned.
“Eh, just some people I used to work for sort-of. It’s complicated.
“That sounds quite like it.”
I shrugged and took notice of his weapon. It had a strange technology and design I wasn’t familiar with. That company had told me that the “Invaders” had barbaric technology and were an uncultured race. I guess that’s another thing they’d be mistaken with.
“That’s Bardiche. Bardiche, say hello.”
“Greetings, sir.” The weapon replied in an accent I wasn’t familiar with.
“It…talks?” I found Bardiche to be really neat and even kind of cute but I wasn’t about to admit that.
“He does, yes. Bardiche has its own artificial intelligence to calculate and operate his different functionalities.”
“That’s really cool.” I gave a brief smile.
“Made him myself. He’s very versatile.”
“Wow, no wonder you’re here. They’d be blind to not see potential there.” I sure hoped I wasn’t coming on too strong with my words.
“Oh, but I’m just a humble armourer.”
“You’re being too modest, sir.” I said as I looked over the cool axe again.
“What about you, surely you have skills worthy of being here aside from your dashing good looks.”
In no way had I been expecting that and almost choked on my coffee when he’d said it.
“W-What…? You’re joking, right?”
“Why would I?” He seemed confused.
“Cuz, I’m a mess and I look like a rolling dumpster fire?”
Nalar snickers at my comment. “We have different opinions on that, here perhaps I have different views than you humans.”
“I doubt I’m much of one anymore.” I sighed, not wanting to think about it.
“You look much closer than many of the humans I have met.” He shrugs.
“I guess that’s a good thing, right?”
“Well…thank you, then.” I said in the most sincere way I could manage.
“Well, I better finish turning Bardiche, I hear we have combat training today.”
“Right. Was nice meeting you.”
Nalar gave a wave farewell before walking off. I decided it was best to go back to my room and try and look less terrible. My hair had fallen into my eyes as it usually did and I was wearing the same thing from yesterday. I went to have a quick shower and change into a fresh set of clothes. It felt strange to be near such a fast running faucet. I could never get used to it, even back when I worked that company. I assumed that something might have happened before that had me wary of the thing, but that was yet another thought that had to sit for another day.