Bara looked up from his book as the door swung open.
“I expected you sooner,” he said calmly as Ace stepped through the small doorway. The florescent lights made the boy – for, Bara knew, he was barely more than a child, regardless of position and status – look even more washed out. With his pure white hair and pale skin, Ace could have blended into the whitewash if not for oddly red eyes. Eyes that glared dangerously behind locks of silver hair.
“Times being what they are, I haven’t had a moment to spare until now.” Ace took a seat on the only other place in the office – Bara’s examination table. He relaxed easily enough, used to the smell of sanitizer and medication. “I still don’t really have time to waste, so let us cut right to the heart of this matter, shall we?”
“You sound so much like your father,” Bara observed. It was obvious that Ace had spent a large portion of his time with his predecessor. “But I digress. You are here about your brother’s test results, correct?” When Ace nodded, Bara sighed, placing a marker in the novel and reaching for the file he’d left on the counter the day before.
“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, Ace, but he’s sick.” When the boy shook his head, his expression hardening further, Bara continued quickly. It wouldn’t do to anger someone with as much power as the youth, even if he had helped deliver him into this world. “Not sick like you are. He’s never been as strong as you, and he’s slowly getting weaker. Now that his body’s stopped fighting it, the attacks are coming more often now, and stronger than any I’ve seen before.”
“Meaning?” Ace prompted, refusing to see what was right before him. No one would want to hear this kind of news. No one wanted to know that, no matter what they did, someone would die. Especially not when that someone was your kid brother, and you’d just witnessed the deaths of your father and two of your friends. But that didn’t make it any less true.
“Meaning, Ace, that unless something changes fast, Vier is going to die.”
Ace’s face didn’t change, but Bara saw his hand clench around the thin paper covering the table. “How long?”
Shaking his head, he looked back at the file. “Hard to say, to be honest. I’d never seen this before you boys, and the condition is so rare there is hardly any data to be found. Most lived between twenty five and thirty years, but Vier is already much weaker than they ever were.”
Without another word, the young family head stood and turned for the door, but Bara grabbed his sleeve. “Another few years at most, Ace. And stress will only shorten that time.” The boy nodded, and Bara released him.
“Excuse me, Doctor, but I have pressing matters to attend to. We still have one more place to fill.”
Bara almost fell out of the chair. “You’re actually planning on finding a Tera? We haven’t had one in years! Even your father never found one after the last died, and he searched for more than five years!”
“Yes,” Ace replied, still not turning around. “And look what happened. We need someone without any ties, someone to watch us and judge us, now more than ever. Never forget, Bara, that we have a traitor in our midst. And I plan on flushing him out, one way or another.”
Back rigid, hands in fists, Ace turned the handle and pushed the door open. His voice, Bara noted, had been stiff. He might have been their leader, but he was human still, and young enough that he hadn’t learned how to properly control his hurt.
The door slammed shut with a deafening crack, uncomfortably similar to a gunshot. Sighing sadly, Bara picked back up the book, turning to the page he’d left off at, as the scream pierced the sudden silence.