Monsters 0


#

The foul creature was heading his way but that wasn't what bothered Martin, nor was it that the station he was in was full of people, it was that the creature was starting to get close enough to where other people would start to notice it.

People can be annoyances or obstacles to any plan, any goal, any aspiration. And he had gotten lucky for this particular plan. Being the first to catch it by smell. As horrendous as it was, there was no way he wasn't going to notice. And it won't be long before someone else notices.

Even if it was out in the distance, deep into the forest. It was slowly approaching toward the station. Where other people may become an annoyance or obstacle.

Seated in his seat, he glanced left and then frontward looking for any changes or commotion in the rows of seats beside and in front of him. Not seeing anything out of the norm, he looked to his right past the edge of the station, down the slight hill, into the forest. Where the foul thing will appear.

This was also luck in play, getting a seat right on the edge. The perfect vantage point to see the creature when it gets close enough.

Sight told him the creature wasn't here yet. Now for a secondary assessment.

He paid more attention to the scents around him.

The scent of a man eating a sandwich somewhere behind him. The close odors of bodies that he usually tuned out. To even the slight scent of a person chewing extremely refreshing gum a seat in front of him.

Farther out, the scent of the trees to his right. On one tree in particular he caught the scent of wildlife-more than likely a bird's nest. The scent of trees, wildlife, and nature continued, engulfing that direction.

The scent of an engine starting up to his left-backward, the electricity and gasoline, far but not at the edge of his range.

The scent of someone smoking very much far, nearly at the end of his range.

And the scent of the creature, closer than the engine but not closer than the people.

If the smoker was near the end of his range, then the creature would be around ¼ of his range…which had to be 100 to 150 feet away.

The scents of all the people, objects, and nature he could sense did not diminish the sheer stench of the creature getting closer. It all dwarfed in comparison. And it was so unique he just had to be right.

The creature's hot breath, having the scent of nature, and the fact that it was moving, albeit slowly, were hints. The fact it just appeared, out of nowhere, in the middle of his range was another. The biggest hint was without a doubt the abnormal putrid stench, not even wild animals had a stench like that, so it had to be one of those kinds of creatures.

An unnatural terrestrial creature, a UTC.

He had called the emergency services a few minutes ago, and they had told him that they were on their way.

That'll be a point for him, especially since he's obeying by the proper procedure. The proper responses will get here quickly due to his non-anonymous tip, he made sure they knew his name, and they'll know exactly who to give their appraisal to for the quick response.

Now he just has to wait for the proper responses to get here and deal with it. Afterall it was around 150 feet away and it wasn't moving that quickly. It wasn't like it was rushing toward the station. In the time it took him to start and finish his call, it had only traveled a few feet.

But the problem, the unknown variable, were the other people in the station.

For one, did someone else notice it before he did? Compared to others with an enhanced sense of smell, the average should have a bigger range than him. Is there a chance someone else can smell the creature? Did someone else beat him to the punch?

If that were true, wouldn't there have been a reaction of some kind? And even if they did notice, if they didn't do anything then it wouldn't affect his plan. Someone could've noticed but thought they could survive if it attacked. In any case, this factor is not worth delving into.

Secondly, what happens if someone notices now?

The ideal was for the proper response to get here before people start to notice. But it was becoming more and more clear to him that people would notice the creature before they arrived. Especially factoring in other people with enhanced senses or any magic.

With how slow it was moving, he doubted the creature would get close enough to be a danger to anyone who wasn't braindead, but it would be close enough to be seen. And if it's seen a panic and stampede could happen. Something that would very much overshadow his assistance.

He took another glance around. The crowd didn't look like the type who would get in the way. The crowd was more on the younger and older side than middle aged. An ability can go with any age, but a middle-aged civilian should still be the one more likely to get involved compared to someone young or old…or atleast one more likely to be a plainclothes badass marshal.

He didn't want it. No interference or hecticness or whatever from the crowd. Don't be an annoyance or an obstacle. Just don't get in the way and everything will go alright. The response will do their job, he'll get his congrats, and they'll remember his name and face which will prove useful going up the ranks.

A way he can walk in with a small advantage compared to the other cadets.

As long as those useless bodies don't get in the way.

He forced out a breath he realized he was holding.

But, come to think about it. He remembered how far it was and how slow it was moving. The thing wasn't even a pressing danger, due to the distance, so there should be less overall panic. That's right. He was banking on gasps and shocks as people back away with their phones out with maybe an orderly evacuation as the worst case, before the marshals or mainstayers arrived to clean it up.

He took another glance at his watch. Analog with a digital overlay showing temperature and time in the middle. It was 7:25 am, so that meant the teleport was going to activate in five minutes.

There was a good chance that the station would activate before the UTC got close.

Where was the response? Hurry up and get here already, so that he'll get his congratulations.

The increase to his reputation, he smiled at the idea. Thinking about it optimistically it may even get him on the good side of those up top. Not immediately, of course, but small steps Martin, small steps. His goal would be completed for the day.

The smell got closer and he turned his attention back on the thing. It appeared clearly from the forest.

Big, brown and furry with hair covering its entire body. It was around the size of a grown man, with six legs, or appendages, sticking out from the dark brown center mass. To compare it to something, it was like a mutated cockroach.

It didn't take long for others in the station to notice. Whether from enhanced senses, magic, cluing in from others, or just a convenient glance, either way there were gasps and shocks as people became aware—a darkish blue blur flashed in front of him and raced toward the UTC.

What?

It took Martin a second for his eyes to register, and his mind to snap out of its confusion, as the person crashed into the UTC. Pushing both the creature and the –boy Martin realized, into a nearby tree.

The first thing that caught Martin's attention was boy's terrible hairstyle. Not natural at all, the boy's hair was spiky and fairly uneven. How did he not notice that hairstyle? Was that guy sitting way behind or to Martin's far left to not even notice it? The boy was wearing a blue and black tracksuit.

"What's he doing?!" The shocked cry from a person in the crowd captured his thoughts completely.

The creature had its back to the tree as the boy was in front of it. The boy threw a barrage of punches, each punch being a line of motion due to its speed. The creature weathered the storm and then swiped with one of its front appendages, the boy was hit. The creature's claw tearing through his shirt and throwing him to the side.

Dumbass. Martin thought as gasps and screams erupted around him.

But the boy was only knocked away a few feet, he got back on his feet and charged it again. The first thing Martin noticing was the lack of a certain smell. Even with the disgusting aroma coming from the creature, he didn't smell the scent of blood in the air. The main scent he picked up from the boy seemed to be whatever product he used for his hair. Martin squinted his eyes and looked around the tattered clothes that was now the boy's shirt. There was no red or pink on the boy's brown skin or clothes.

Ah, he was tough.

As the tough speedster initiated his second charge on the creature, Martin clinched his fists.

Dammit, what was this? Why the—why was this asshole picking a fight with the thing?

Narrowing his eyes, he saw the boy again launch a similar barrage of punches even though the last one didn't accomplish much damage. Observing the boy's weak ass punches, more affecting the creature due to its rapidity rather than its strength, the guy probably wasn't even a 6 on the S scale. What was he doing here, trying to pick a fight with a UTC? And not even accomplishing anything?

A new obstacle and one so incompetent it's also an annoyance as well. Dammit. Ineffective effort yet effort enough to ruin his plan. Dammit dammit.

The entire point of an early warning was to avoid a scenario like this. Now the proper responses are going to arrive to a chaotic situation.

Damn, what was he going to do? At this rate he's screwed two-fold. Either the spiky haired boy will get himself killed, making Martin's tip absolutely meaningless. The spiky haired boy somehow pulls a win out of his ass and steals all the credit.

Or neither and Martin's contributions are still overshadowed by an idiot picking a fight with it. What's the point of an early warning if it all goes to crap anyway?

He had even gone through the effort of keeping his voice quiet and inconspicuous on the call, being subtle in order to not clue in the crowd.

The effort all being for nothing.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Blood was pumping in his veins and he felt like he was clinching his fist so hard that it was like a vacuum.

Even though this was only a little scheme of his, it bothered him that it was all going so wrong.

This was the second time. The second time. Today. Where a scheme of his went wrong.

All cause some random guy with a hairstyle only a blind mother could love decided that today he wanted to pick a fight with a creature.

His right hand's index fingertip was slightly digging into his palm's skin, enough to bring it a minuscule amount of pain, and because it was him that minuscule became minor, the kind of pain one'd get if they were to step on a sharp rock.

He stopped balling his fists. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath though his nose.

What was his mission of the day? His goal?

To start off on the right foot, on the first day, to make the most out of the opportunities around him in a way to benefit him in the future.

Small seeds which may be advantageous eventually in his cadet life. Whether it was by establishing connections or just an increase in favor from those up top.

His effort, no matter how small it was, failing due to some rash guy with a horrendous hairstyle like that?

And that's not even going into the fact that to take this lying down would be the second failure on a day that was just starting.

He exhaled and opened his eyes. There was no way Martin was going to allow it.

At this point, since there's already a commotion going on, the best case for him is to get involved. They'll either reprimand him for getting involved or commend him, and if they go for the former, he could use the other boy being in danger as an excuse. As if responding to that thought, the boy was knocked away again by the creature. This time smashing into a nearby tree.

"Can someone—" a voice began. Martin stood up facing the creature.

A standard 7 should be enough.

A slight sprint took him 130 feet within a single second. Right to the side of the creature, who had its attention on the other boy. Martin's nose wrinkled from the smell, but he powered through. He delivered a punch as fast as his stride with a little bit of strength.

The creature soared. It flew in the air for a few seconds before violently smashing into the ground several feet away, but Martin noticed something off. The smell of blood wasn't in the air. There wasn't any blood. Not from the initial impact or the second one of it smashing into the ground.

He frowned. A 7 wasn't enough strength? How tough was this thing? Since he had no other tools on him, the only course was to punch harder. Although it was brutish.

Before he could make another move and try punching harder. Faster than even he could move; the other boy charged into the creature and started another onslaught of punches.

Martin expression scrunched up in disbelief.

Di-did he think I couldn't demolish it after that one try? I could demolish this entire freaking area if I tried.

Glaring, Martin watched as the idiot threw punches that were much faster, so fast by the time Martin noticed one punch connecting, another four more were also connecting. It was fast, but it was equally worthless.

If you throw 20 punches and it didn't work, throwing 20 more won't solve anything. That one punch Martin did achieved more than all his other punches put together. So why was he getting in the way? Martin took a step forward but didn't try getting into that messy melee, not with an unreliable actor in the midst.

The creature managed to reposition itself under that hurricane of blows, and then swiped again, the imbecile was slightly knocked aside again. Clearly a pattern was showing. But before Martin could get a chance to deliver a blow, with not even a second having passed, the boy was already back in the fray.

Martin considered swinging a tree at the both of them but discarded it due to this area being public property. He needed to act, knowing how bad he'd look if he were to jump in but in the end contribute nothing. He looked around his environment. He considered throwing something when he noticed something.

The creature raised its legs for another swipe and anticipating the result, Martin turned toward the other boy and spoke.

"Stand aside," he told him. The boy paused, looking at him. Martin was a little thrown off by his eyes, but he continued.

"I'll deal wit—" A force slammed into the creature. Invisible yet shaking. Like a cannon blast, Martin felt the tremors where he was standing. The spiky haired boy was pushed back and fell on his rear. Blood was spilled, and the scent went into the air as the creature collapsed with most of its body blown off. It was making sounds of groaning or it was just the sound as stuff was being forcibly released from its body. Escaping out from the hole.

Martin chose now to pay attention to the scent that was closer than those near the station, but had written off, he was already turning when he heard the voice.

"Um, sorry to bother—" a hesitant voice in. Martin and the idiot turned to look at a boy who was wearing a yellow hat, a grey button on shirt and khaki colored shorts. The boy gave a nervous unsure smile.

"Are you guys alright?"

Annoyances and obstacles in his every way.

But even if they're in his way, they won't stop his aspiration.

I'm going to become someone great, he thought as he glared at the new obstacle.

And no annoyance or obstacle is going to stop that from happening.


##

What am I supposed to do? Having this thought, Jamison looked upon the gasps, shocks, and the murmurs of the people around him. "Can someone—" a worried woman's voice began but was then drowned out by another voice that yelled an indecipherable exclamation of shock.

It was like everyone was looking at the commotion that was happening down the hill. Right when that phrase was uttered, something new must've happened because a new wave of shocked expressions and sounds emitted from the crowd and more people got out of their seats.

The station a few minutes ago would've been aptly described as an official-looking pavilion. Not to the point where it could be called a building, but just felt like an open space with a roof and a lot of seats. Except now the space where one could've entered, sit, and then when the time came be in a different space entirely was now occupied by people out of their seats and moving about.

The people out of their seats were mainly on the right side of the station, where the seats were completely filled a few minutes ago, and were avoiding the other half of the station where there were empty seats. Some were out of their seats and evacuating down the aisle separating the two sides of the station, some were out of their seats and forming into a crowd on the edge of the station to observe the commotion, some had their phones out recording, while a few others were on their phone calling the emergency services.

The rest, like Jamison, were still in their seats.

Noticing all of this, Jami was frozen.

Seated in the backrow, with the crowd blocking most of the right side, Jami couldn't tell what was happening down the hill, after the creature showed up and people started getting out of their seats his view was blocked, but he could tell that the situation was still ongoing. It left an essential question.

What was he supposed to do right now?

Was he supposed to evacuate? Was he supposed to join the crowd? Or should he just remain seated until the station activates? Or, his shoulders jolted with the thought, should he help with the creature?

'Someone', that woman had said, he may have heard the word 'help' before they were drowned out by the other sounds. Did that mean him? Would he count in this kind of situation? If so, is he supposed to help?

Is he doing something wrong by not acting right now? If he thinks that he may be able to help out a tiny bit then not doing something would be wrong, right? Should he help out, or should he just stay in his seat?

He then wondered if he truly counted as someone who could potentially help. Sure, he had something that may be able to beat the creature, but he wasn't absolutely sure. And who knows, maybe it'll just make this situation worse.

There was a crowd, not intimately but close, around him; their focus was on the creature, but he still felt it. The pressure.

Like the pressure of holding something heavy above oneself, its weight a continuous force downward trying to crush them, but that pressure was all around him. Everywhere, in every direction. Watching him, judging him, for his inaction. Pushing him, commanding him, telling him to do something.

That pressure made him even more nervous and unsure of what action he should make.

Even though it didn't help in soothing his unease. He glanced around.

Another boy his age had a holographic article open. The title obscured from his vision but from the pictures Jami guessed it had something to do with the war.

A gentleman on the older side was getting up and heading to the aisle, presumably to evacuate. A middle-aged man in a tan suit was behind him evacuating as well.

A girl in her seat who was just looking detachedly at the commotion, no worry or interest on her face.

The pressure increased.

Jami's eyes flickered over to his left.

The pressure stopped.

He noticed an older girl in the row in front of him staring at him. She was wearing a school uniform. Brown hair in a long ponytail, brown skin, but especially those brown eyes that were looking into his soul, like she was expecting him to do something.

Like an animal under headlights, Jami froze. There was no way she wasn't looking at him. She had turned her body, her face was clearly pointed in his direction, and those eyes were looking straight at him.

What?

Why?

She was looking at him expectant and knowingly. Like she was somehow familiar with him and he was not doing something he was supposed to—

His thoughts stopped.

Did she know? Did she know that he could potentially help in this kind of situation? Did she expect him to?

As if responding to that thought, her head moved. A slight nod.

She glanced at the commotion outside, titling her head to look in that direction, and then glanced right back at him, staring at him, a clear message.

'Aren't you going to do something?' her eyes said.

Feeling a combination of stark fear, anxiety, and another emotion, he rubbed his arms and felt the return of the pressure around him and on top of him. With the girl staring at him as the embodiment of that pressure. The representative of it.

Still staring at him, she opened her mouth and was about to speak when he started to move.

He didn't want to press through the crowd watching, so he decided to go around the crowd. While trying to avoid looking at the girl, he walked left down the row to get to the aisle. He started heading south down the hill, like he was following the other evacuees, once he was a bit down, he started to loop around to get closer.

As he walked a sigh escaped his lips. At least now he knew what to do.

He walked to where the crowd could now see him. He raised his right-hand palm up toward the furry beast. With steady aim and making sure he didn't aim at the boys.

"Tormento", he spoke the spell. He felt the decrease as it happened. 88% left.

It was like an invisible, yet silent blast had erupted from his hand. It exploded into the beast-thing. Knocking the spiky-haired boy off his feet and the beast collapsed, it bleeding out from a large amount of its body being—well missing.

Like a sudden moment of clarity, Jami felt an intense amount of unease. He had quickly and anticlimactically ended the threat and now he was wondering if that was the right course. Only wanting to lend a hand but ending up solving the problem.

"Um, sorry to bother," he said as he started walking toward the two boys who turned toward him.

The one with the non-spiky hair turning quickly enough and with an intense enough expression to make him flinch. The one with the spiky hair turned and made him completely stop in his tracts. He noticed, that there may be something wrong with that boy's eyes.

The spiky haired one was wearing the tattered remains of what looked to be a black and blue shirt and a blue with black stripes pants. His black hair was long length, unnaturally spiky, and uneven.

The non-spiky haired one was wearing a green button on shirt and black shorts. His hair was black, even, medium-length and crisp. He wore a watch and a green bracelet of sorts on his right arm.

Feeling awkward under their stares, he attempted a smile.

"Are you guys alright?" He had barely got those words out of his mouth before the spiky-haired boy replied.

"Wow!" The boy said-no yelled.

"That was you?!" He continued in the same loud volume. The spiky-haired boy blurred for a second and then he was right in front of Jami, assaulting Jami with a gust of wind as well as loud voice. Smiling while raising a fist he continued, "that was awesome! You took it down in like a second!" The boy spoke quickly as if he was in a race to spit it out.

There was something wrong with his eyes. His eyes were black. What was supposed to be the whites of the eye, the sclera he remembered from his teaching, was a darker shade of grey. The grey grew darker as it went to the center, to the point where the iris around the pupil was pure black. Jami already had trouble looking at people's eyes and looking at his was like looking in an abyss of darkness.

Jami winced at the volume, the eyes, and at how close the boy was. He didn't know how to react or speak to any of that.

Thankfully the black-eyed boy still in a tattered shirt realized something, because he paused and then whirled on the shorter haired boy who was a little further away from them.

"And you", the black-eyed boy pointed at the frowning boy in the green shirt who looked absolutely livid at Jami, the spiky haired boy, and this entire situation.

The black-eyed boy ignored that and began speaking fervently.

"You're pretty strong man. You managed to send it flying!"

"If you saw that," the other boy slowly grounded out of his teeth, "then why didn't you let me take care of it?" He said glaring. Oh no, Jami noticed. He was mad. Maybe Jami shouldn't have gotten involved after all.

The respondent smiled in the face of that hostility. "I wanted to try beating it first," he said. "Like a competition. But man, that thing was pretty tough, huh?"

Realizing something else, he continued past the question.

"Oh yeah, just in case." Still smiling he pointed up with his left index finger, "the punch was cool, but you gotta remember the safety stuff, you aren't supposed to hit as hard as you're able to."

A flash of rage on the mad boy's expression. "That doesn't apply to obvious beasts you—"

"Huh, really?" The other boy asked.

"-and besides that wasn't my full—"

"W-well at least the creature is dealt with now." Jami stuttered out, afraid of new conflict. His hands half reaching out and then half clinching as he looked between the two.

"That's true!" The other boy said chipper. He smiled at the boy in the green shirt and then at Jami.

Demonic eyes. Every time the black-eyed boy glanced at Jami, he felt unease. But the boy wearing a green shirt seemed to take it in stride. Maybe it was the anger, or he was used to see those type of eyes?

Speaking of which, the boy in the green shirt decided to get closer and was walking toward the two, but it was like his walk was faster somehow, so he was making fast progress.

"OH!" Jami flinched as the black-eyed boy realized something. The boy in the green shirt noticed his mini jolt and did not look impressed.

"I forgot to introduce myself." The black-eye boy began, directing Jami's attention back to him.

He pointed his thumb at himself and gave a wide smile, teeth showing. "I'm Selim."

Jami noticed the other boy, who had made it closer to them, closed his eyes for a slight moment longer than usual, and then after a quick exhale, the boy plainly said. "Martin."

"Um, Jami" he said trying to follow the pattern.

"So," Selim started not after even a second of silence. He glanced at the downed beast. Jami followed his gaze. "Are we like supposed to like drop it into a dumpster or something?"

"No," Martin stressed the word as he looked at Selim incredulously. "We wait for the marshals or mainstayers and they'll deal with it while we give our reports." He continued in a matter of fact tone.

"Oh," Selim said while nodding his head. "I thought it would be like-"

Selim was talking and Martin was looking at him with a raised eyebrow and a frown, but Jami was still staring at the downed beast.

Something was off. The blood stuff was still escaping from the body. But it was like there was more movement. The whole of it wasn't moving but parts of it were. The stuff escaping especially so.

It took him to moment to realize. What he assumed to be the blood and guts escaping from the beast was something else. Or something else was in the midst of it.

Small, furry and moving things were coming out of the hole in the beasts open wound. Brown, with each having six appendages sticking out from its body. Shiny with blood and around the size of a medium sized cat.

What was five became nine, in the short time it took him to gasp.

Martin turned and it was now twelve masses. Coming out of the beast and heading toward—a blur flashed in front of him and Jami had the offhanded thought that he couldn't hear Selim speaking anymore.

Selim crashed into the ever-increasing mass of small beasts. Some were thrown away, but even more came out of the corpse. He was a line of motion kicking a few and then began punching downward as they started to climb up his body. He didn't seem to mind the mini beasts slashing at his pants, tearing parts of it to shreds. In one spot on the back of his left leg, one started climbing up and was punched down not even a second later, but in that timespan two others were climbing up somewhere else. And the one he punched down was still alive and trying. He was fast, but there was many. More and more of the things keep coming and it looked like Selim was going to be encased. During this, Jami was frozen.

What was he supposed to do?

He looked at Martin who was staring at the conflict. His expression one of contemplation.

Jami looked up at the station, hoping that the girl in the ponytail was there. He couldn't see through the crowd of people who were backing away now.

He raised his right-hand palm up. Should he use the spell again? But the other boy was being encased this time, the boy may not be able to take the spell head on. Jami lowered his hand, uncertain. Would any of his other spells be useful right now?

Martin turned his head toward his direction, and Jami swirled his head at him. Uncertain, worried, and desperate. Hoping he'll give him the answer. Martin gave him a look and said. "Find a way to launch that attack on the corpse." He said before racing forward. Not quite a blur, but still fast.

But Martin didn't race forward toward Selim, he raced toward a few of the mini beasts who had gotten thrown away from Selim and were now heading toward the station. He made it there within a second. He raised his foot and stomped down on one of them, it squishing as it flattened into the ground.

Jami relieved, started circling around while keeping distance. Going more into the forest as he looked for the perfect angle. Selim was in front of the beast, dealing with the swarm of beast-things trying to cover him. So that means... He got to where he was on Selim's right-forward and raised his right hand.

He aimed at the corpse which still had mini beasts coming out of the hole.

"Tormento", he spoke the spell again. 76% left. He didn't feel any recoil or anything as the invisible blast shot out. Smashing into the corpse. The second blast was stronger than the first. Pieces and blood exploded out as Selim and the beasts he was fighting were pushed back. Selim landing on his rear. The beasts being knocked away further.

Jami paused and thought about it for a second. Then spoke the spell again, "tormento". Another blast of the same intensity shot out, decimating the corpse even more and sending more chunks out. 64% left.

The corpse was now so open he could see most of the inside. He didn't see any more beasts in the corpse. Jami glanced a little up the hill to where Martin was. Martin was surrounded by squished small beasts, and he was looking downward at Selim. Selim had just gotten up and was now staring at the beasts who were still alive and moving toward him. The beasts in a mass as they—

"Tormento", he spoke the spell again. The spell exploding into the mass. Killing off a large amount of them. 52%.

"Aw!" He heard Selim's cry from where he was, making him feel a little bad. He thought there was a good chance there. But maybe he should've let Selim handle it? Ah what was he doing, ruining Selim's plan…

Well, in any case. Martin raced and smashed the two or three remaining beasts that were knocked his way, prompting a 'come on!' from Selim. Selim approached him, pants muddled from the beasts, talking and gesturing wildly.

Jami walked up to them to find Selim complaining. "I could've had them!"

"No, you couldn't," Martin said his patience clearly broken. He looked down as he scuffled his feet against the ground trying to get the mess from his shoes. Then he looked at Selim "Unless you were really withholding your strength, there was no way you were going to break their toughness by punching."

"But I was."

"Then why didn't you—"

"Alright," an older voice interrupted them. The three of them turned their heads toward a voice upward. A man in the marshals' uniform was walking down toward them. Jami noticed a second one heading toward the beast's corpse.

His eyes glanced up at the station. Only seeing empty seats on the side he was on and new people exiting from the opposite side of the station. Everyone on his side must've either evacuated or sat down and got sent to the other station. He was surprised at how fast the crowd had dispersed but maybe it was just due to the marshal?

Jami noticed Martin take a glance at his right arm where his watch was, and then clicked his tongue in irritation.

The marshal who had gone over to the corpse had a gun of sorts, and a spray of greenish liquid sprayed out onto the beast. Where it covered the beast started to melt. Martin's face momentarily scrunched up. The other marshal approached them.

"When a creature like that is sighted," the marshal began once he was closer. His face stern and his arm crossed.

"You're supposed to keep distant unless you're forced to. Only when your life is in immediate danger. The kind of up close and tangible danger to yourself or others. Only then is it recommended to fight." The man pointed at the downed creature with his thumb, "and we're fairly far from the station."

"Wha-!" Selim began loudly and not even completing the word. "If you see something like that, aren't you supposed to defeat it?"

"No unless," the man sighed. "Look, there was no need to endanger-"

"I'm sorry sir," Martin formally began. "I only got involved because he was fighting the UTC. I thought-"

"Yeah!" Selim interjected, loudly, Martin glared at him for a second before resorting to a normal expression. "It was basically one on one, and then-"

"Alright, alright, let's just start this from the beginning." The man interrupted while taking out a small notebook from his pocket. Selim looked ready, face expectant. The marshal took out a pencil from his different pocket, "we'll start with you." He nodded at Martin. Selim deflated, shoulders slumping.

"At 7:21," Martin began, "I noticed an odd smell coming from the forest." As he began telling his point of view, Jami had a question. The marshal arriving had got him thinking.

Why had he gotten involved?

He had felt desperate and panicked in the midst of it but thinking back; him getting involved may not have been the wisest decision. He had been in a puzzle, feeling like the timer was near zero, and a girl had offered him an answer. No, more like an order.

That thought made Jami think back to the girl.

Was there a purpose behind Jami getting involved?

The marshals managed to arrive not even a minute after it had been dealt with. If she was a knower, like Jami had thought, was something going to happen if he didn't get involved? Was one of the boys in danger or—he felt like going down that mental path could take him on an hour-long mental detour. So, he focused on a horrifying idea that just came to him.

Could Jami have been misunderstanding and that girl was just an eccentric individual? Should he had waited until she actually said something?

But. But it had all just felt so convenient and certain.

Her staring at him with those eyes while he was uncertain he could contribute. Telling him that yes he can and why wasn't he. Like she knew what he was thinking at that exact moment. That glance from the beast to him, knowing what his reaction to that would be.

It was unnerving in an odd way to Jami.

He looked back on his memory and he didn't think he recognized her before. Maybe she knows of him while he doesn't know of her?

Martin was still telling his story, so Jami focused on his thoughts. His eyes glanced up at the empty station. Trying to remember. Was she really sitting there the entire time, or did she move to the seat during the commotion to do that?

Jami had half a mind to think that the girl who was staring at him was a member of the new cadets he, and he had a suspicion that the other two boys, was in. It is the first day after all.

But he rejected that idea soon after. The other boys looked around the same age as him with similar heights, with Martin being the shortest and Selim being the tallest. She looked a bit older than he was, taller, teen but more leaning toward an adult than a 13-year-old like him. Plus, remembering her outfit from what he could see, she had a school uniform on. Even though it was Sunday. Maybe she also had a bookbag for some school activity?

But even though he didn't know who she was or why she gave him the order. He held no ill will toward her. He didn't blame her for getting in this situation.

She had helped him after all.

After she had 'told' him to do it. He felt relief from his anxiety. It wasn't on him anymore. He finally had something concrete he could do.

Just like when Martin told him to shoot the beast. There was a comfortableness in other people's orders.

He remembered the look Martin gave him before Martin gave him the order. A mix of slight disbelief and slight disgust, like Martin was looking at something unimpressive and sad.

The fact that he was like this made a part of him feel pathetic. A pitifulness that would probably never change. No matter how much time passed, even after the cadetship, even after the war ends, even after…

It was just something he had to accept.

He stared out at the forest.

"What about you?" the marshal asked Jami.

The attention brought him out of his thoughts.

"I—" he began, off balance. "I thought I could he-help?" He finished awkwardly while looking up at the man.

"Hm, did you think they were in danger?"

A flash of anger on Martin's expression. "N-n-not," Jami internally cringed at the stutter and continued, "that I'm sure they could've stopped it themselves."

"Then why did you join in?" The man asked plainly.

"I-"he didn't know what to say. "I-uh, um" he fumbled over his words. No. What he was saying weren't even that. Just gibberish. Sounds.

Would it make sense to the marshal if he explained about the girl or would that just confuse him or…?

"Alright alright, we'll go back to you later." Mercifully, the marshal said seeing his state.

Jami noticed that the marshal looked almost apprehensive as he turned toward the expectant and ready face of Selim.

"Let's hear it."

"Alright" Selim smiled excited, teeth baring, black eyes wide, he spread his hands out dramatically. "So, the story began- "

With eyes looking at Selim but not wholly focused on him, Jami couldn't help but think back to the thoughts he was having before the marshal interrupted him. Along with a gloominess that usually only came when he was alone. A whirlwind of creeping thoughts and feelings that lead into one thought.

I have no dreams or aspirations, and I happily follow what others say, so just what on earth am I going to be in the future?


###

Selim had the threes undivided attention and he wasn't going to miss this chance. He smiled, teeth showing, at the indifferent, tired, and wary faces that were looking at him, and continued.

"So, there I was," he gestured with his hands up, "having a dramatic stare down with a lot of tiny critters."

The second officer guy, who had finished spraying that green stuff on the beasts but had then disappeared for a bit, approached Selim. He was holding in his arms a white t shirt and some black jogging pants.

"I was just about to go full power when," Selim looked down at his torn shirt and pants that were both pinkish and torn. "Oh, is that for me?" He asked the officer.

The officer nodded. "Oh thanks," Selim said then looked back at the three. "But then with a loouud boom," he put his hands together and then violently separated them while wiggling his fingers. " A explosion smassshed into it." Selim said punching out his right hand.

He looked at the guy holding the clothes. "Oh, I'll take it now," Selim took the clothes. "So, I looked around and saw Jami there with his palm up like he just finished a special move." He was about to make another gesture when he realized his hands were full. So, he dropped the clothes.

And he sped up, or time slowed down, whichever whatever. He sped up to where Martin was in the midst of a blink. The clothes falling in super slow motion. He easily took off the shredded shirt he was wearing and left it the air to fall slowly. He grabbed the untorn shirt that still hadn't touched the ground and put it on. He grabbed the jogging pants and looked down at it. Scratching his head. He decided to just put it over the tattered pants he was wearing. The shredded shirt hadn't moved much, so he grabbed it and balled it into a ball and placed it in his pocket. By the time that was done, Martin still had his eyes closed.

There was a collective flinch as he exited sped up time. With Jami having the biggest jolt back and Martin tensing up wide eyed.

"So, then I looked for the critters that Jami did not take out, to find Martin smashing the last of em!" Selim continued. He spread his hands out, "bummer, right? Didn't even get the chance to show off to the crowd."

"So, then," Selim excitedly began. Smiling at his audience.

Martin was turning his head somewhere, and because of that Jami was also following where he was looking. Not one to miss out on something, Selim looked up to see a girl approaching the group.

She seemed cool. The girl looked older than him but not adult aged, with brown skin, and hair tied into a short ponytail. She was wearing a blue and white kind of shirt that Selim didn't know the name for. She had a gun holstered on her right and some sort of longer gun with a sling on her back like a backpack. She had a slight smile on her face.

"Good morning, sirs" she greeted the marshals.

The first officer who spoke to them, turned his head. "Ah, Odessa. You're late if you wanted to deal with it. These kids beat you to it, us as well. We already cleaned up too."

"I'm just glad that they weren't injured," the teen, Odessa, said. "Speaking of which, they're also why I'm here. I'm here to pick up the three recruits." She continued, glancing at the three boys.

"New members?" The officer took a glance at the three of them.

"Woahh!" Selim exclaimed. Surprised and smiling he turned to look at the other two boys. "You guys are apart of the cadets too?"

Martin looked at him like it was obvious, Jami didn't look surprised either. "Huh, was it that obvious?" Selim said rubbing his chin.

"Yes sir, this is technically their first day." The girl with the gun said. "If it's alright with you, can I bring them to the base? I can help out with the statement later."

"It's fine." The officer raised his hand and said with a smile toward the girl. "We had already gotten most of their statements, and it seems like we got a better idea of it now that we know that they're mainstayer cadets."

"Ah, thank you sir." The girl smiled at the officer. The officer nodded and started turning, the other silent officer following as they started to-

"OH, hey wait!" Selim called out raising his hand. The two officers paused and looked at him, one apprehensive the other fairly blank.

"Hey, what's your names?" Selim asked looking between the two.

"Officer Warren." "Andre," they answered.

"Alright," Selim smiled and looked at the quieter one. "I'm Selim. And I'm going to return the clothes tomorrow when I get the chance mister Andre."

"There's no need—" The other one began.

"It's cool, I can do it." Selim said before he could finish. Officer warren looked like he wanted to continue but after a look to officer Andre, he relented, "alright we're in the main eastern department." He began turning again, the other one follow—

"OH wait," Selim said again to a slouched back. "I forgot to mention this," with a jolt he looked at Jami and Martin too. "Forgot to mention to you two too," he turned and smiled at the two officers.

"But yeah, one day," he pointed at himself and gave a wide smile like the one from the show he saw yesterday. "I'm going to be a councilman!" He said with as must confidence as he could. He put his hands up in a gesture, "so yeah, preciate the temp clothes, and I'll definitely remember this in the future!"

They looked at him, looks of disbelief, even the cool one who gave him the clothes, but then that man's look changed and he gave a smile. "Good luck," the man said quietly yet warmly enough to make Selim's smile wider. The man gave a wave and started walking away, the louder officer gave his goodbye to Odessa and followed.

Selim was nodding to himself, "hmm, he seems like the type that doesn't talk much, so a good luck from him must be pretty valuable huh?"

"Yeah," the older teen said walking up next to him. "You want to be a councilman? That's an honorable dream Selim." She smiled at him.

"Thanks." He replied. Smiling at her, he was right, she is cool.

She looked at Martin who looked mad for some reason. "How's it going, Martin?"

"Okay."

"I see you made some friends here." She said smiling at him. Martin didn't seem to have an answer to that. So, she glanced at Jami, "what's your name?" she asked.

"J-Jami" Jami said. She looked between Jami and Selim.

"Well you already heard, but I'm Odessa. A senior member of the mainstayers." She said.

"It's terrible that you guys had to go through all this when it's your first day. I apologize for that." She said while taking a moment to look at each of them, Martin included.

"It doesn't seem like that big a deal." Selim said, shrugging his shoulders. "We're suppose to be beating up beasts, right?"

Odessa shook her head. "Well, not immediately, we were supposed to assign you into groups, assign training, and have you learn about the UTCs before you even got near them."

She glanced at the station, "well, we're going to be late anyway. So I could answer some questions while we wait."

"Huh, why would we be late, can't we just go there now?" Selim asked.

"The station teleports every 30 minutes," Martin began with a bored tone. "It won't start again until 25 minutes."

"Yeah and traffic is crazy lately, going from one end of the city to the other, at this time of day…yeah we're definitely going to be late." She added on. "Well, I was already a little late when I heard about this and decided to pick ya'll up. I figure it wouldn't be too bad if we all walk in together." She shrugged.

Jami looked a little panicked, and Martin just looked angry which didn't seem that rare.

"Okay, let's find a place to sit down while we wait." Odessa said. She started walking, and Selim was about to race her when—

"Why don't you just run to the base? You're fast enough to probably get there before you're late." Martin said with a frown. Jami was looking between them.

Selim smiled, "oh nice idea, but this seems more fun. Plus— "he rubbed the back of his neck. "I would feel bad leaving ya'll."

Martin didn't smile at that. Selim's shoulders jolted up, "Oh, are you not running for the same reason? You're fast too, right, could you make it?"

Martin scowled, "if I run my hardest, and end up absolutely drenched in sweat while cutting it close, yes. Better to just wait, walk in with a guide…and an excuse."

"Huh sounds pretty dramatic, pretty sure I've gotten from one side of the city to the other in a bit before, pretty casually too."

For some reason Martin's expression got worse. Like one of those angry looks the supervillains gave to the hero.

"Hey," Odessa called out. Not far but not close. "You guys coming?"

Martin exhaled with his eyes closed and started moving toward the station.

Selim looked at Jami, who flinched like Jami usually did when Selim looked at him, then looked at the station. He cracked a smile at Jami, then took a step forward.

Selim sped up, racing past Jami, and then Martin, and then Odessa with ease. Sitting down on the fifth seat from the end of the front row. Odessa sat next to him, Martin sat next to her, and Jami sat next to Martin.

"Well while we're here, and missing part of the orientation, I'll answer whatever questions you got." Odessa said.

"Are we allowed—"

"Dowehaveuniforms!?" Selim started and finished speaking faster than Martin could complete it.

"No," Odessa said plainly as Martin frowned at the ground for some reason. "Well…Eli," she looked at Martin who looked up at the name "Made an emblem of sorts but we're still going through the process of how we're going to do all this. So, we're waiting on the uniform stuff."

"Aw," Selim said. "Was thinking we'll be having matching awesome designs or something."

"Nah we're not that professional yet." She smiled at Selim, and then looked at Martin. "What was your question Martin?"

"Are we allowed to use magical items in the field?"

"Good question, in general yeah you're allowed to use both personal tools and personal power when you're out in the field. But any of the seniors do have the right to prohibit anything too dangerous or forbid certain powers. So, yes, unless told no."

Martin nodded.

"Also depends on what group you're in and whether they'd want to try to synergize your abilities in a clever way and all that."

"Alright," Martin said.

"Um," Selim leaned forward and turned his head to see Jami speaking with a slight raised hand. "Excuse me," Jami paused for a moment. "Ma'am?"

"Oh, you guys would be our captains, right?" Selim said looking at Odessa.

Odessa shook her head, "uh, it's okay you don't have to go full formal like that. You guys are only like four years younger than me." Jami was silent.

"Sorry, you can go on," she prompted Jami.

"uh, um, is there a big chance this organization will get involved with the war?"

Martin looked at him doubtful, "probably, haven't you heard that we're on the sixth year, and helping both the marshals and the military was stated as—"

"We are the crucial support," Martin stopped as Odessa began, serious. "If we're requested, we support the community, we support the marshals, and yes we support the military. We started off as a little group that decreased the UTC population around the city, but we got a sponsorship, we helped out when asked, to the point that we were even allowed cadets. That's the level we're at. Jami, the kind of missions we get varies, but I very much doubt we'll be sent to the front line. If that's what you meant."

Jami nodded a few times.

Selim seeing a chance leaned forward even more, "hey Jami," Jami flinched like he usually did. "if you're spooked, you don't gotta worry, cuz I'm invincible. "He stressed the word with a smile. "Just say and I'll be there man."

Jami nodded once, nervous. Odessa smiled, and Martin looked at him funny before opening his mouth.

"What kind of missions did you get from the military then?" Martin asked.

"Mainly backup, an extra hand, for various internal stuff. Sometimes helping with setup, sometimes dealing with too weak for their time threats like sympathizers."

Martin started asking some more boring questions, so Selim looked around. The station was nearly empty, with only a few people trickling in.

He played the latest comic he'd read in his mind. Starting at chapter one and going through the panels and then pages in real time while imagining voices and sounds to go along with it. Reaching where he was caught up, he took another glance right to see what they were doing.

Odessa and Martin were still talking about something boring. Jami was staring out at the forest like he was in deep thought kinda like the protags of some of the shows Selim watched.

"Hmmmmm," Selim hummed attracting Odessa's attention. "I think I'll go to a vending machine and get something to drink." Selim got up and smiled at the others. "You guys want anything? May not have enough to pay for you all but—"

"I'm good," Odessa said. "No" Martin said. Selim glanced at Jami who uneasily shook his head.

"Alright, I'll be back." Selim said and he zoomed off.

He speed up to where everything was slow and made it to the nearest vending machine down the hill and against a wall on the restroom building close by.

The vending machine was stocked up, and it had an electronic clock flicking 7:40.

"Wow," he said while looking over the options. "$1.75 for a soda?"

He took out the cash card his mom gave him, after an agonizing five minutes of holding the card, the balance showed up in the empty space below his name. $45.50. All of that was a memory. Of him a month ago. Like a clear image, he remembered it. Then with a flash of another image, he remembered the total of his comics being $15.20 a few weeks ago. The groceries he got a week ago being $19.43. So that means…

"Ah whatever," he said glancing at the vending machine still at 7:40. "I'll just check the other vending machines."

He sped up and jogged.

The vending machine a few blocks away had it as $1.50.

The vending machine even further away had it as $2.00.

The vending machine outside a gas and electric station had it as $1.75.

The vending machine at the park was…

"oh, nice ¢.50!" He said aloud. The vending machine with its electronic clock flicking 7:41 did not reply, so he took out his cash card. Swiped it and, "cherry and vanilla sounds good," made his choice. The soda fell and he reached in to get it out.

He heard voices behind him and turned around to find a group of three kids much younger than him chatting while walking up to the vending machine. One of the kids leading the way, looked in Selim's direction and paused. Stopping the group's movement. They looked at him.

"Yo," Selim smiled while holding his drink, kids are cool. He glanced at the vending machine and then looked down at the kids, "oh, do you need me to press it for you? It is pretty high."

One of the kids took a step back, his face like the one Jami had when Selim tried talking to him. He glanced between his friends, unsure what to do. "Cursed?" Another kid said to the one leading, not loudly but not quiet. The one in front nodded at her then turned to where he was still staring at Selim. Like Selim was the final boss or something.

"Hmm," Selim scratched his head as the group murmured and backed away. He looked at the vending machine and then how short they were. "Alright," he said making some of them go on alert.

He swiped his card again and picked three sodas at random. "Just consider this on the house," he said while grabbing the sodas and placing it on the ground in front of him. His right hand was holding his soda, so with his left he gave them a thumbs up. Of course with a smile as well. He glanced at the vending machine's clock, "I should head out, see ya." He sped up and ran toward the station.

He made it to the station, more people in seats now. He zoomed over and made it in front of Martin and Jami, Selim's seat still unoccupied. Martin looking up and giving him a look while Jami did that glance and glance away thing. He smiled at them, "yo". "That was quick," Odessa said from the side.

"Well I am quick," Selim said coolly, he twisted open the soda cap. It exploded as the force of the soda jumped out, the bulk of it getting on Martin and Jami.

Gasps and complaints of outrage rang out in the station.

Selim laughed and began apologizing, but things like this and earlier with that officer were what he wanted, this cadet thing may actually be pretty fun!


#

##

###

The girl with a long ponytail in a school uniform watched as the three made a scene in the station. The spiky haired boy apologizing, the short haired boy furious, and the boy in the hat surprised. The girl with them was on the side chuckling.

The girl put down the advanced eyewear. In order to keep watch, she had moved to the roof of a nearby building after evacuating. It was wasteful doing this, when her power already told her everything about this day. She was just wasting precious time that could be spent preparing, but she felt like she had to do this.

This was important so she had to watch, the start of it all.

And it was important to her too.

She already knew about the boys, but today was the first time she saw them with her own eyes.

Looking at them like this, she almost had to wonder how they would grow to become so pivotal to her fate.

But her power had already gave her that answer.

She took a shaky breath.

"Okay, 876 days to go." She started the countdown. To that day. One day in the future.

Her salvation or her death. With today being the start of the one who could save her and the one who would kill her.

Their beginnings.

And perhaps the beginning of her end…

She squeezed her fist, but there was still more things for her to do. More setup and preparation. She didn't need to spend any longer here.

She took a glance across the sky in the direction the boys would be, her hope and her despair, and then turned around and began moving. The boys were starting theirs; it was time she started her journey.