2

Arrival

When you meet a brand new friend, it opens up a world

I think I got a little taste of what it was like to be a secret agent on the way to the school. It was one airport after another once my father and I said goodbye and I worked my way east toward the coast. From there, it was one rather exciting plane ride to the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He had one last surprise for me as we parted at the first airport; five hundred dollars cash!

"Creating talismans is kind of expensive," he explained. "If you want to make your own, you'll need to buy the supplies, so that's what this is for, okay? Make me proud."

I told him I would, and promised to write him about all the cool stuff I made, hugged him once more, and was on my way.

At every stop I would sit and wonder, that kid over there looks to be my age. Is he going to Demongate? What about that short-skirted girl there who was walking so funny? Like she has weights on her feet or something. I was nervous, and excited, and everywhere I looked I imagined what weird powers the people around me had. Oh, I knew that only a small fraction of the world's population actually had powers, for one reason or another, so it was highly unlikely anyone here did, but it was fun to imagine. I was pleasantly surprised when the girl (she was Asian) in the skirt with the heavy legs followed me to the final plane, meaning my suspicions about her were correct. She kept looking at me too, meaning she had noticed my noticing her, and sat down beside me without saying anything.

Apparently, this jet was owned by the Foundation, as once we were in the air it was announced that anyone on this plane was in some way connected to the school or the Foundation, and that we could talk freely to each other. I wasn't sure how to strike up a conversation with this girl sitting next to me, but I perked up when the stewardess also announced any "unseen" (whatever that was) wards could now be removed.

"Finally," the girl next to me said, with an accent, looking down at her legs. She seemed to put her hand over her leg and ripped something off, and a heavy boot appeared to cover her leg! I jerked backwards and saw a flash as the piece of paper in her hand burned away.

"It was a ward!" I blurted out. "That is so cool."

She turned to me and smiled. "Oh, you know about them too?"

"Only a little, I'm an Artificer, or at least I'm going to be. I guess."

"I guess you can't see them, then?"

"What, the boots? No, didn't that ward make them invisible?"

"It said in my packet they would become 'unseen', not invisible. Normal people can't see them, but people like us should be able to. But that takes some exposure to unseen things or something, I guess. I couldn't see them either, but sometimes I almost thought I could. It was weird. I thought you could see them because you kept looking at me, so…"

"I was looking at you because you were walking funny." I said, a second too late I realized maybe I shouldn't have said that in quite that way. But she laughed. She had a nice laugh.

"I should have known. Wearing them like this was weird. I could feel them, but not see them, and they're heavy, you know? And I was trying to keep my speed down to regular walking speed at the same time, which I haven't had any practice in, so that's probably why. Were you playing 'guess who's going to Demongate' too?"

Now it was my turn to laugh. "Yes, I was. I'm glad I wasn't the only one. Why not just carry them?"

"Oh, that wouldn't have resulted in any uncomfortable questions at all, right?"

"I guess you're right. How did you get through security, though? They would still set off metal detectors, right?"

"Gee, I don't know! Maybe the ward took care of that too? Must have, I guess." She seemed to think for a moment, then shrugged and started feeling around on her other leg.

"Wait, don't pull the other one off yet." I said, holding up a hand.

"You want to try and see it, am I right?"

"That's right. Now that I know it's there…" I looked down at her legs. Then I reddened, "Oh my gosh, it looks like I'm just staring at your legs doesn't it? I mean, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, that is, what I mean to say-"

She laughed again. "It's okay. Feel it. Go on."

I hesitantly brought my hand down to her leg, and sure enough, there was another iron boot running up the whole leg just like on the other side.

"It's there all right. Why can't I see it? Wait! No, it's gone again."

"I'm the same way. I get little flashes. Anyway, I'd like to take them off if that's okay with you."

"Sure, sure!" I answered, pulling my hand back. She felt around and tore off another ward, again which burned away in her hand as soon as she held it up. She stood up and worked her way out of the boots; they really went up her whole leg, more like the bottom half of a suit of armor then just regular boots, then stood them up in between us. She stretched her legs out.

"That's much better."

I wasn't sure what to say, so I just looked around the plane. I saw a couple of swords, and what looked like some Half-Demons now sitting in chairs where normal looking kids had sat before.

"I'm Yamashita, by the way," she said, holding out a hand.

"Right! I'm Dean. Say yours again?"

"Ya-ma-shi-ta," she said exaggerating it. "Though I guess I should get used to using my first name rather then my family name, though it feels weird not to be using honorifics and first names and all that. So call me Yasui. That's easier, right?"

"Yasui, I guess so. So you're…"

"Japanese. Though my mom was Chinese. How about you?"

"Red blooded American. At least I guess. My Mom and Dad, well, it's a long story."

"Oh." she said, and was quiet for a minute.

"So you're-"

"So are-"

"Sorry." We both said, and laughed. I was beginning to like this girl. How about that?

"Go ahead."

"Well, I was going to say, are they just armor or do they have special properties?"

"The boots? Oh, they make me faster at the very least. Didn't I say that? And I can jump way higher in them too. And I guess I can use them to stand on air, but I don't know how to do that yet."

"Wow, I'd like to see that!"

"Maybe when we land."

We laughed again.

"So you're an… Inheritor then?" I asked, struggling to remember what the packet I received had said about other students I would meet.

"Technically I'm a True Martial Artist from my father's side, but the boots are actually Chinese and they came from my mother's side."

"Gee, all I got from my Mom was an invulnerable cardboard box with a blue egg inside. And I didn't even get to keep the box, it burned all up."

"Are you serious?" she asked.

"Like I said, it's a long story."

"I guess it must be."

"Just think, long ago in history one of your ancestors asked an Artificer like me to make him some armored boots, and so he did. Now you get to wear them today. Say, wait a minute." I said, looking at her.

"What?"

"Won't you, well, grow? I mean, the boots fit now, right? But will you be able to wear them when you graduate?"

"My mom wore them just yesterday, and she's taller then I am right now."

I looked at them again, marveling, and shaking my head. "Amazing. So what did you want to ask me?"

"Oh, just that you were an Artificer, right? I guess that means you make stuff?"

"Yup. See all the swords and that weird staff thing carried by that kid over there? Each one the work of an Artificer at some point in history. At least, that's what I read anyway."

"Wow, that sounds really useful. I just kick stuff, and you could probably make my boots to boot."

"Well, sure, maybe, but if you got caught without your boots you could still fight, right? If I got caught without the stuff I made beforehand, I'd be sunk!"

"I guess you're right. So did you get your powers from your mom or your dad, or don't you know?"

"I guess my mom was the Artificer. My dad, well, he found out later he had all the powers."

"All the powers?" she echoed, confused.

"Yeah, like I said-"

"It's a long story-" we both said, and laughed again.

"At least you can laugh about it, I guess," she remarked when we got ahold of ourselves again.

"I honestly don't know what to think about the whole situation. I mean, there I was living my life, and suddenly Donald, that's the guy who's taken care of me, hands me this packet and this box and my life is turned upside down."

"I can't even imagine that," said Yasui. "I mean, I've always known about powers in a general way because of my parents, but to just find out one day," she started looking at my forehead.

"No, I don't have a scar," I said, laughing.

"Just checking," she said, smiling.

"Anyway, they aren't dead. At least, I don't think they are. Just... well, missing, I guess you'd say. Look, I'll show you."

I rummaged around in my carry on bag and came out with the egg. I wasn't afraid of it breaking, some careful testing on my part showed that it was, like the box it came in, immune to anything I could do to it.

"What a pretty blue," Yasui exclaimed. "That's what your mom left you, huh?"

"Yup. Just something to remember her by, or a clue to where she went? Right now I can't say."

"Well, I hope you find out."

"Thanks." I put the egg away.

"So you were saying about your dad? I mean, if you don't mind talking about it?"

And you know what? I didn't. I told her what Donald had told me about my father being able to learn the basics of every power, and how he never attended Demongate because he didn't "register" to Seers, whatever that meant. She listened attentively, and sat back in her chair after my story was done.

"What an amazing story."

"Really? I mean, they couldn't have left me a note? Why this egg business?"

"Maybe they're on some secret mission and they couldn't!"

"For this long? Anyway, for who? The Foundation or whatever? They could have told me."

"Yeah, you're right. Still, they think you can do the same thing as your dad? Learn a little bit of every power?"

"That's what the letter said. Don't know how they know that, but I'm on a plane heading for a secret island in the middle of the ocean next to a Japanese girl and surrounded by weird looking kids, so right now I'll believe anything."

"Yeah, I'm kinda glad you're nice and normal looking. I mean, I might be able to get used to someone having horns or wings or goat legs or whatever, but right now I think I would have just freaked out if the person next to me changed like that."

"I know what you mean. I, uh, I don't usually talk to people this much, you know?"

"Neither do I. I'm pretty shy, actually. It's weird, it's like I've known you forever. I can't imagine why I think that though."

"You're right-" I said, looking at her more closely. "It does seem that way, doesn't it? I wonder why?"

And in just that way, the plane ride to the island passed in a flash. We compared schedules, and wondered what our teachers would be like, and just... talked. She seemed really nice, and honestly I had expected to just sit in silence on the way there like I usually did, but talking was… nice. It seemed I had made a friend in an unexpected place, and that made the prospect of being away from home a little easier to take.

Everyone crowded around one side of the plane as the island came into view, until they made us all sit down for the landing. We were met by several teachers and older students, and loaded into buses for the 4km journey from Porta to the school itself. We now had several days to get over our jet lag, explore the school and learn where things were, and in general hang out before classes officially started. I knew where I was going to be spending most of that time- the library. As we all approached the building it seemed pretty normal, but then it was awfully late so it was getting dark. I promised to meet Yasui for lunch the next day at least, and went to go find my room.

I was met there by a boy my age unpacking a suitcase. The first thing I noticed was the sunglasses he was wearing. At night. He had black hair, and was a bit more muscular then I was, I thought. He was slightly taller too, but there was something delicate looking about him that I couldn't place. Those sunglasses though...

Who exactly am I rooming with? I thought.

Still, he stuck his hand out and introduced himself right away.

"So you are my, how do you say, roommate, yes? It is nice to be meeting you. I am Osman, let me know if you need help unpacking." He spoke with what I assumed was a Russian accent, my only clue being all those James Bond movies I had watched with my Father.

"Thanks," I answered. "I'm Dean, nice to meet you too."

"You were sitting next to pretty girl on plane, no? The one with the boots?"

"That's right."

"Ah, I thought so. I see very well, you know? Your energy, it is not like the others. I am thinking you are special in some way, yes?"

"I'm surprised you see anything with those glasses on."

"Many say this to me. The glasses, they are, how you say, so that you are not becoming upset, yes?"

"Why would I become upset?"

"I suppose it is better to show you now, after all, we are roommates, no? For you, I will show," he said, talking the glasses off. I began to see what he meant. He had eyes, they just didn't have any color, or pupil in the middle- they were just a solid light purple color.

"Oh. I see," I remarked, wondering what else I should say.

"At least there was not the screaming. I hate the screaming." He put the glasses back on.

"Yes, I think the glasses are best. At least for a while, until I get used to Half-Demons and things walking around the halls. Are you…"

"No, I am what they call Petitioner, so I am very far from being a demon." He saw my confused look. "I can bring angel to earth temporarily, like a Summoner can bring the demon."

"Wow, really? That's amazing! I wonder if I could do that."

"No you must be- one moment."

I looked at him curiously, as he seemed to be listening to someone over his shoulder.

Now what? I thought. Staying here is certainly going to be interesting, isn't it?

"My sister was asking me something based on what I saw inside you, and yes, that is what it looks like, exactly. What does it mean?"

He listened again, while I thought His sister? There's an invisible person in this room, right now?

"She wants to know if the name Cain means anything to you."

"Who does? Is there someone else here?" I looked around.

"Oh, excuse me, yes, I did not explain properly." He seemed to pause as if listening again, and it seemed like he was reciting something now. "Being a Petitioner, I had been granted an angel to protect and guide me, an angel of Knowledge. Sadly, due to certain circumstances of my birth, the soul of my sister went in his place. So when it was time for my angel to attach himself to my soul, he found my sister already there. Not wishing to kill her, he gave her his knowledge so I would still have use of it, and returned to heaven. So rather then an angel, my ESPer sister protects me instead. She says that perhaps you are related to this Cain in some way, and that is why I see traces of many different powers inside you."

"Wait, what? I'm sorry, that's a lot to take in at once. What are you saying?"

He sighed and sat down. "I thought my sister explaining it would be more of the clear. I am starting at the beginning. I was supposed to be twins. One girl, one boy. The girl was to be ESPer and I was to be Petitioner. But something happened, my body took over hers, and we became one body. This is called, how do you say in your language…" he listened again. "Thank you, Kat. Chimera. When this happens, normally the soul of the unborn child is given to another mother so it is not lost, but this time my soul was waiting for my angel to attach itself. So she went there, instead. The power is attached to the soul, you know, not the body. So angel comes down when I am born to begin to protect me, and he finds that space filled! Is very strange to him, he does not know what to do. He thinks, maybe ESPer can protect me better then he could, this is maybe plan? So he talks to bosses in heaven, and they say, give knowledge to child and see what happens. If no works out, soul can be taken back and you can start duties. So he did. With no body, Kat put all time into figuring out powers, so I talk to her all the time. My parents, they worry my "invisible friend" is all in my mind, angel should not talk to me until later in life. Finally she learns enough to make herself seen by them, and demands name. I had always called her "cat" so they named her Katrina. So she looks out for me, and I am protecting us both, yes? Is that more clear for you?"

"Yes, that's amazing. So, what, you have her liver or something?"

"Something like that, yes. We share this body, as some of it is me and some of it is her. But mine is dominant."

"Isn't it kind of, I don't know, awkward to have a girl riding around in your head?"

"She has been there all my life. Is no big deal now."

"I guess. So can I see her?"

Suddenly, a form appeared to detach itself from Osman's body and take a step in front of him. It was like looking at a ghost, and I could only stare. They were twins, there was no mistake, as there was a certain resemblance between them. She was quite pretty, if hard to see exactly, and only a few inches shorter then her brother. She didn't really have color but her hair was long and straight, and I wondered if she had any conscious control over her appearance, when technically she didn't have a body. I realized I was staring.

"Um, oh, hello. Nice to meet you, Katrina."

She smiled and turned, going back inside Osman. I heard a "voice" inside my head.

Nice to meet you too, Dean. Don't worry, I won't peep on you. Much.

"She spoke to me!" I exclaimed, fascinated.

"Yes, is hard for her to use two powers at once, so she usually only does one thing at a time for now. She is getting better though. We make good team."

"I'm an only child, I can't imagine how it must be, to be that close to someone else that you literally exist inside them. And she, I mean, Katrina, you act totally independently of him?"

I sure do. I see what he sees and hear what he hears unless I'm projecting, but I can't do that for long without dying, but I'll hang out and watch his back when I have to. Otherwise I can use my powers just like I want, when I want, so it's pretty convenient, given the circumstances. He can call on angels and I can keep him safe while he does it. I think we'll make a great team. Oh, thanks for addressing me directly, Dean, even my own family likes to pretend I don't exist. They figure their son was supposed to get an angel, so an angel he should have gotten. We weren't sure how people would react, so we thought we should keep it a secret. Guess we shouldn't have worried.

"I would rather know the truth, and if you ever want to talk, I'm here for you. It must be pretty boring all the time, not being seen or heard unless you use your powers."

It is inconvenient, so thanks. You're a nice guy.

"So we're okay?" asked Osman hesitantly.

"Sure." I said, realizing he was all right. "It wasn't your fault what happened to your sister, and she is still alive, in a way, so what's there to be concerned about?" He looked relieved and made good on his offer to help me unpack. As we did, I thought that this day had been much different then I had thought it was going to be, and that wasn't bad, no, that wasn't bad at all.

"Say," I wondered, "How come she seems to speak way better English then you do?"

"She has knowledge of Angel, which includes English," he replied. "She practice it in her head more then I did."

I looked confused, she didn't have a head.

He means I did more thinking in English then he did, that's all, so I'm better at it.

I nodded, understanding.

So today, I thought, finishing up unpacking, I met a girl in boots, a man with weird eyes who talks to his half dea- no wait- his alive sister, and got a possible clue about my past to ask them about later- the man named Cain.