A Broken Dream
Part V: Trauma
Ethics class ended and the second period of the day came. Instead of the classroom building, our class was held in one of the dojo. We loosely lined up by instinct close to some benches.
A moment later, someone came out. Unlike Miss Contreras who was dressed in a suit jacket and skirt, this guy was in full superhero costume. It was a dark rubber or leather looking armor with a bird cowl and stuff strapped to him everywhere. He even had a staff in his hand and his eyes were hidden behind red tinted goggles.
“Good morning students.” He said, then there was a little chuckle. “Oh how your morning will not be so good when we are finished today…”
He walked toward us and we lined up more properly.
“My name is the Rook. I’m your basic combat training teacher. My job is to teach you the essential of how to survive through a fight, defend yourself, and protect others. To do that, I will no be pulling any of my punches, make no mistakes, you will get sore, bruised, maybe worse even. Hate me as much as you would like, but when I’ll be done with you, you’ll stand a chance to survive in the big bad world out there.”
He paused, gauging our reaction, but nobody dared to argue with him.
“To do that, I need to see what you are all made of. So you and I will have one on one fights, I don’t expect you to hold back. And do trust me, I suggest you don’t.”
“So you’re Rook, huh?” Leo said, really cockily and visibly unimpressed, looking him up and down. He summoned some giant impractical looking floating sword out of nowhere and leaned against it.
“Alright, you go first.”
Leo and Rook took position in the mattressed part of the dojo and a transparent barrier raised itself, separating the benches from the fighting portion of the dojo.
I don’t know what I was expecting from Leo, he was clearly cocky, had this arsenal of weird swords, maces and stuff…
What I didn’t expect was for him to get hit right in the face from the getgo, pass out and have to be dragged back to the bleacher within seconds. He quickly came to, tried to get up, summoned more swords and then immediately tumbled down on his face.
“You’d think that thick head of yours would have protected you.” Freyja said.
Leo muttered something in answer but it came out all garbled.
“You two, get him to Doc Venus.” He said pointing at Ike and Erik. They didn’t question and carried Leo out who tried to walk by himself with mixed success.
Leo done with, it was time for others have their try and by and large they didn’t go well…
Most notably for me, was Gloria. For such a proud assassin, she didn’t do so well. She’d used her one trick, her poison that is, and when it failed she was out of options. Apparently she’d never learned how to take care of any kind of competent resistance.
Out of everyone of us, Vicky was the one who did the best. She’d grabbed a staff from a rack and jumped in with Rook, using her phantom double to aggressively press the offensive and play defense while she worked on undermining his balance and finding gaps in his defense. Another to do well was some black enby kid named Riley who could teleport around through portals.
When Kioshi’s turn came he went inside the arena and turned invisible. Rook announced the start of the match and for a moment nothing happened. Then the Rook swung his staff… and nothing. There was a pause and he did it again. Unlike with others, there was no banter from Rook, just focus.
After a minute or two, he threw his arm out behind him and Kioshi appeared, his thin arm in Rook’s grip. Rook flung him easily to the ground. Kioshi didn’t move as Rook moved to press his staff to his throat. He could’ve teleported but he didn’t, he stayed there.
“You’re officially dead, kid. Come on, scram.”
Kioshi didn’t move so Rook nudged him with his staff. That got Kioshi on his feet.
Rook came back to our line up, looked at us one by one. Then pointing his staff at me “Your turn kid.” He said. “Show me what you’ve got.”
I hesitated, then decided to take a staff from the rack like Vicky had. My power wasn’t exactly fighting material…
“Ready?” Rook asked once I was in the arena.
I nervously nodded.
He rushed toward me and I put the staff between us, the moment I felt him close enough, I froze him. His armor was good, but it wasn’t immune to my power. I hurried behind him and got ready to hit him.
It took about half a minute for the effect to wear off, but it felt like ten times more. His colors returned, his momentum too and with a swing of my staff I only hit him with the tip at his side. He expertly rolled with impact, getting up in a microsecond.
“Impressive trick.” He said. “What’s the range on that? You didn’t use it when I was further away.”
He quickly got some distance and took out a bola. He tossed it at me and I dove to the mattressed ground to avoid getting ensnared.
“Can’t dodge forever, kid.”
I got back to my feet only for smoke to fill my vision, it itched my nose and lungs a bit but that was it. At least it wasn’t tear gas. Then a second bola hit me. Its coils wrapped around my torso, tightening themselves around me and rubbing my shirt against my skin, I grit my teeth at the pain.
I wasn’t going to scream. I wasn’t going to cry.
There was a bang. Something hit me. It felt like a punch to the guts. I let out a ground.
Then another a second projectile hit me, making things even worse. I screamed.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry. I repeated to myself mentally, I couldn’t give him the satisfaction.
“If those were real bullets, you’d be dead.” Rook announced, coming forward. He untied the bola. “Get back in line.”
I was shaking from the pain, biting my own cheek hard as to not breakdown. I struggled to get back to my feet. I walked toward the others.
“You did well.” Someone said. My brain wasn’t in any state to recognize anyone.
Other words came to my ears, some whispered, some not;
“He’s a jerk.”
“These fights are so unfair.”
“Oh my god, you guys are so terrible for wannabe capes.”
I sat down on a bench, letting the pain lessen a little. When I came back to my senses, I looked around and saw Kioshi. In the excitement of watching the fights, he’d slipped away from the others and was curled up all alone in the corner.
I got up and walked toward him. “Are you alright?” I asked.
He didn’t answer. He didn’t move either. He looked toward me, but not at me. At least his chest was moving a little with each breath…
I sat down not far from him. “Kioshi?”
He blinked, looked sort of in my direction again. A choked out word came out of his mouth, again and again. “Sorry.” Tears started rolling down. “Sorry… Sorry… Sorry…”
“Jesus…” I muttered to myself. I’d had emotional breakdowns before, from my dad, from being bullied at school… So I knew what Kioshi was going through…
Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw others coming closer, having noticed us. “Let’s not crowd him please?” I raised a hand and they stopped. Maybe they’d thought I’d freeze them.
I turned back toward Kioshi. “Is there anything I can do?”
“I’m sorry… “ He said. “I’ll be good, I’ll be good…” He kept repeating the words, stuck.
I felt my stomach churn… Old memories stirred but I focused on Kioshi hoping to chase them away… What had been done to him?
It didn’t take long for the gears in my brain to turn, he was part cat. What if he wasn’t any paramorph but a chimera? I’d seen documentaries… Trafficked children experimented on, made part animal, used as slaves…
“Hey, it’s over Kioshi, you’re not going to get hurt.” I said, he didn’t quite react so I prepared myself. I could feel my whole body tensing up as I reached out with a hand. I half expected him to jump me when my hand touched his. I took it and gently squeezed it, my skin feeling like it’d been burnt from the contact.
It was like his whole body got shocked. This time he looked at me rather than toward me. He’d stopped muttering too. Then he turned his head away. “Thank you.” he muttered.
“It’s alright, you’re safe, and it’s over.”
“Thank you.” I was worried he was going on repeat but he wiped his tears away with his hands. He squirmed in place just a little.
I got up and offered him support to get up. “You’re welcome, I’ve had my shares of public breakdowns.” I smiled at him.
“I-It’s not as painful as be-before. I don’t know why I…”
“Befo—” I almost asked, but cut myself. “You don’t have to answer that.” Echoing the same words he’d told me.
He crossed his arms protectively over his chest, hunching a bit, but a sad kind of smile appeared on his lips. “I… Aaron told me no one would ever touch me again without my permission… I guess his promise doesn’t work if he’s not here…”
“I’m sorry…” I said, looking down at the thoughts of whatever might have happened to him. “I know how you feel… I’ll make sure nobody does it again.”