“You killed them…It’s your fault…You’re a monster just like us…monster…monster…monster!”
“No!” I wake up with a jolt, hyperventilating as I orient myself to my surroundings. My shirt it soaked and my face is drenched in sweat, which continues to fall profusely. My hands are deeply embedded into the mattress and it’s only when I see the feather fly up, I realize my claws are out and have shredded the sheets and mattress. I don’t even have to see my face to know that it’s become morphed into a twisted monstrosity that is a Junsui Demon. I focus on slowing my heart, which is beating so wildly I feel it could easily jump out of my chest, and after several seconds, I become relaxed enough to change back.
I look around my darkened room, illuminated by nothing more than the dim glow of the moonlight. It’s considerably large and spacious though the furniture is quite basic. To the right wall, there is my bathroom and study corner with a single arm chair, coffee table, bookcase and desk against the wall. To the left wall, there is my closet, dresser and a small sitting area with a sofa, TV, and my brand new Gamer Man X, the latest and greatest gaming console to hit the Wakaba trade market. My room is the only one to have such luxuries as the others have smaller rooms that they share with each other. So as one would imagine, my room is the hot spot for our hangout sessions, which to my inconvenience, is very often.
I look down at my bed, which lies in the center of the room, it’s full sized and very soft though now it’s got shred marks running through it on my current side. The other side of the bed is safe, but it couldn’t escape the debris of the feathers that scattered all around. Damn. Tahno’s going to be pissed. This is the third bed they’ll have to replace in the last two months. I thought I was passed these stupid nightmares, filled with memories of the past from so long ago, I’d almost forgotten, I wish that I could.
“Ah, I don’t want to get up!” I fall back on the bed with my arms outstretched. I want to go back to sleep, but after a nightmare like that, I don’t think I can, I’ve never been able to in the past either. I can feel that the bed is warm where my right arm lies and I realize that Lili was here not long ago. She must’ve left when my nightmare started, as I’ve always instructed her to do, because as I’ve proven once again, I’m dangerous in these situations. If she’d still been sleeping there, I could’ve very well slashed through her already. Unlike me, she can’t heal and so getting slashed by my claws would mean certain death. Though in an emergency I would have the ability to heal her, but only as a last resort.
She comes to my room at night now and again, as she has many times over these last four years, and I take her in. I never intended for it to come to this when we first took that step, but after all the pain she’s endured at the hands of selfish men in the past, I can’t stand to turn her away. It’s not love, not for me and I’m pretty sure not for her either. I think it’s simply a way for her to deal with her trauma and remind herself that not all men are monsters. Since we started doing this, she’s gotten a lot better at interacting with everyone, including guys, so something is working. If this is the only way I can help her heal and keep her from losing herself, then I don’t see the harm, as long as she continues to ask me for it. I’ve made it very clear to her that I’ll never do anything she doesn’t ask me to do, no matter what. Just as I begin to feel the pull of sleep and start to drift, I’m again awoken by an abrupt disturbance.
“It’s 6 AM you lazy bums, time to get up! You’d better be dressed and in the arena in an hour cadets!” The loudspeaker resonates through the entire sector, such that it's nearly impossible for anyone not to hear.
“Ah! Dammit, Tahno!” He just loves waking us up like that, though I swear he does it just to piss me off because he knows how much I hate it. I sluggishly drag myself out of bed, reluctantly, and make my way to the bathroom. Normally I’d sleep in if it were a normal class day, but today’s Sunday, which is a training day for all cadets under their preceptors. Most cadets are trained under a General associated with their respective element class, but as members of a special unit, my team and I have the misfortune of being trained by the Head Commander Mason Tahno himself. Although he’s the boss over the entire Junsui Hunter Military, and far surpasses the General rank, he prefers to keep his General title. We all call him Tahno though, so we don’t really care about that either way. Anyway, he’s a real hard-ass and will give us severe punishment if we’re even a second late. We’re sure to regret partying late last night.
I walk out of my room about a quarter to 7 make my way down the illuminated corridor. As I walk, I pass two doors about half-way down, one on each side. The left door leads to Gunther and Nikoli’s room, the right to Mai and Lili’s room. My room was at the very end of the corridor. Opposite of my room, on the other end of the corridor, the narrow path opens into a much larger room, with various sections. To the immediate right, there is a half-step that leads to the social section, the largest section of them all and is the place where we hang out when not gathered in my room. There’s a large TV, stereo and even an active simulator game system, which requires actually getting up and moving, rather than simply sitting in front of a TV with a controller in hand, as I do with My Gamer Man X. There’s, of course, ample seating options, including several sofas of various shapes, sizes, and colors. To the far top corner, there is a small workout room that we can utilize for individual training and to the left, a large and modern kitchen area takes up the remaining space. However, we rarely do any cooking ourselves.
“So, there’s really no one you like?” Lili hovers over Mai, eager to hear her answer to the question. Her long, pink hair hangs down to the side, obscuring her face so that only one of her matching eyes is seen. Her tan complexion is in slight contrast, but not overly so. She’s average height, curvy and well-endowed in all the right places. It’s not hard to see why all the guys fawn over her though she never accepts their advances. If it’s because of her aversion to them or her fondness of Mai is still unknown.
“What are you even asking me Lili? You already know the answer to that question.” Mai, in contrast to Lili, is very tall, slender and has a masculine figure. However, that doesn’t take away from her natural beauty. Her blue curls are tied back in a side-hanging ponytail and her blue eyes are only enhanced by her dark complexion and complimented by her full lips. Her face is slightly broad, but also cute, making her appear just like a charming prince and she’s revered as such though she’s not interested in the least.
“Oh come on Mai, give me something. There’s got to be someone in this entire Academy you like.” Lili is very hyperactive and bubbly when it’s just us around, but in pubic, she’s like a different person. She hops around Mai and grabs her arm, playing with her and trying to pry the information she wants out.
“Lili! You’re being ridiculous. There’s no…I’ve got more than enough to handle with you.” Her face shows a faint blush as she looks away from Lili, who’s face is close to hers. She’s not honest at all.
As I walk into the kitchen, Mai’s entire demeanor changes and her smile fades. Seems to happen a lot when I come around, especially on the mornings after Lili had been with me the night before. “Yo.” I greet them nonchalantly and proceed to pour myself a bowl of cereal. Honey Nut Loops, my favorite.
“Morning.” Mai’s greeting is as cold as ever and she immediately returns to her book.
“Morning Noah!” Lili jumps up and walks over to me. “Are you ok? You were having a nightmare.”
“Yea, I’m fine Lil, I’m gonna need a new bed, though. That one is shredded.” I eat a spoon of cereal.
“Another one? Wow, Tahno’s not going to be happy about that. You better work extra hard today.”
“You can say that again. Tahno’s going to rip you a new one when he finds out.” Nik comes walking up behind us, adjusting his glasses as he speaks. His red hair dangles by his ears, his red eyes are narrow.
Gunther comes up directly behind and grabs an apple. “Yea, Tahno’s gonna totally flip! Sorry dude.” He breaks off pieces of the apple and feeds it to Toru, his pet rabbit, who sits on his shoulder. His green hair and eyes seem to sparkle. He’s got the wildest look of us all, with his hair combed over to one side, while the other is shaved, but in the back his hair falls just to his shoulder. He’s got two piercings in his right ear and freckles stretch across the bridge of his nose. Despite his rough appearance, he’s the most passive of us all and definitely the kindest. Somehow he’s got an allure that attracts all the girls.
“Thanks for all your support guys.” The sarcasm can clearly be heard in my tone. “I got it, I’m going to have to kiss Tahno’s boots if I want to make it out alive, don’t remind me. Nice stubble there Nik.”
He strokes his jaw, which is covered in a light layer of facial hair. “Yea, looks good doesn’t it? I decided to let it grow out a bit. I hear it gives guys an alpha male signal that’ll attract potential mates.” He’s smug, not letting my intended jab get to him. He’s a hot-headed stubborn guy that really turns people off, but when it counts, he’s actually got a heart. I still poke fun at him every chance I get, though.
“Not sure that will apply when the mates you want to attract are other males. I think you’d cancel each other’s alpha waves out or something.” I chuckle and he just waves away my joke as always.
“Well, at least I have waves to send out. You’re so indifferent about everything and to everyone, I don’t think people can read you at all. Good luck finding any girls like that. You’d still be a virgin if not fo-.” He stops short, realizing that he was about to say something really insensitive though Lili seems ok.
However, Mai has finally had enough and decides to lay down the law. “Well, if you all are done with your pointless banter, I think we should be leaving now unless you want to deal with Tahno’s wrath. She stands, places her book down on the table and walks towards the door. “Lili, are you coming?”
Lili looks back at us apologetically, knowing better than any of us that Mai is clearly upset. “Yes, I’m coming. Wait for me.” She looks back to us. “We’ll meet you there, don’t be late ok?” She leaves.
I look at Nik with a look of disappointment and he responds with a look of stubborn remorse. “Geez, It’s not like I was trying to be a jerk. It’s your fault for poking fun at me for being gay.” He chugs some OJ.
“I didn’t make you say that, though, you’re the one who went there. I don’t care, but think of Lili.” I toss my bowl into the sink and slip on my boots. “Well, I guess we’d best be on our way now too.”
Nik says nothing, but simply puts his boots on as well and waits for Gunther to do the same. He’s unusually silent as well, no doubt unsure of what to say to break the tension between Nik and I. Once we’re all suited up, we exit our living quarters and make our way down to the basement, where our training grounds are located. Waiting for us is none other than General Tahno, wearing a sinister grin.
“So nice of you to join us, boys.” He looks at his watch. “Oh boy, you’re 25 seconds late, you know what that means.” He pulls out a box of fifty-pound weights. “You know the drill, strap them up.”
“No way! Seriously, for only 25 seconds? That’s not fair to us. Is this about the bed?” He smirks widely.
“Oh, thank you for filling me in. In that case, Gunther, Nik, sit this out. This will be for Noah alone.”
They look at me apologetically but do as they’re told. I curse myself, for effectively digging my own grave. “Dammit!” With an audible opposition, I strap four fifty-pound weights to each limb and proceed to run laps around the training arena. I use twice as many as the others since, as a demon, I can handle much more weight. I run around until I’ve completed five miles and then drag myself back to them.
Tahno stares at me like I’m a bug and smirks. “Good. Now that you’ve gotten that out of the way, the real training can begin. Suit up everyone, we’re doing paired battle training today, to prepare for the upcoming Battle of the Elementals. I hope you haven’t forgotten about it, as your graduation depends on it. I expect that you’ll all reach the top place in the competition, but to do that you need to train hard.”
He walks over to the battle hud to begin preparations as we suit up into our battle gear. We don’t speak and we’ve all become unusually serious, as this is no laughing matter. This may be training, but with Tahno, this is anything but. This battle is going to be real and so we’ve got to put our everything into it. Also, when he says paired battle, he doesn’t mean we’re fighting each other. No, we’re fighting together in pairs, to take down very real enemies. We’ll be fighting feral pure-blood Junsui demons out to kill us