Chapter 258 – Buried Emotions
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“Oh hell!”  The explosion completely filled his eyes.  His time to act fell away.  Staring at his hand the moment before had himself wishing for whatever he held earlier.  ‘I know I have something, some power that bastard gave me.  Damn inconvenient he waited until now, but I need it again!  Please!’

He had heard about moments of tension, extreme situations where people reported to have felt like time slowed down.  Their reactions heightened by the rush of adrenaline.  Able to achieve impossible feats because they needed it.  It was all just stories.  The potential of what a human could reach when natural limits weren’t enforced.

It was the only way he could explain or rationalize it.  Everything felt like what they described.  His mind didn’t seem to appreciate what happened to him at that moment.  What he saw was what he had to accept.

The shell just left the barrel surrounded by flames and smoke.  He only knew it left because of the distortion happening to the flames.  It still moved quickly, even though everything slowed down in his eyes.  He needed to act.  ‘I need something!’

As though answering his call, lines of black materialized drawing to his hand.  It molded quickly into physical form.  The blade from earlier returned.  ‘A sword?  It’s a cannon!  What am I going to do with a sword against a cannon?!’  No one answered his question.  The sword only insisted on being used.

‘Dammit!  This isn’t going to protect me from a naval barrage!’  He pulled up his hands holding the sword in two hands, while closing his eyes.  A prayer went through his mind hoping whatever gifted him with the weapon knew what it was doing.

Lined up well enough, the head of the shell raced to the blade.  The force it left rocked the energy blade in Yori’s hands, but held firmly.  An instant later, the shell split in half directed into different corners of Athene’s Field, digging out craters.

“What?!” exclaimed Athene, not expecting such precision.

Chapter 258 – Buried Emotions

Sighing and panting a little, Yori looked more surprised than Athene by what happened.  He stared at the blade, lifting it towards him.  ‘What sort of power did he give me?  This isn’t like what I’ve seen the others do or even Yumi.  A black sword…’  From everyone else, he had a good sense of their powers, but he just assumed that he would be like his sister.  ‘Everyone’s completely different, huh?’

“Damn you, why won’t you just die already!”

Yori staggered back, forced to focus back on Athene.  “Well I’m not really fond of the idea for one,” he grimaced a little, not sure if joking around was really a smart idea with a woman actually wanting to kill him.  “Besides, I already told you he’s not dead.  You just have to go look.  Once you realize that, there’s no reason to fight!”

“Lies!  Lies!  Lies!”  She slashed her arm through the air generating a massive blade all edge and nothing more.  It swung down like a zanbato, the horse-slaying blade, but triple the size.  Unwieldy and lacking control, the heavy metal chunk crashed into the ground in front of Yori, missing yet still tossing chunks of earth up at him.

The force of the impact threw Yori on his back once more.  “Damn!”  Knocking off loose bits of earth, he stared at his feet where the blade embedded itself.  “Just trying to explain things rationally.”  He looked up at Athene realizing that rational thought probably wasn’t high on her processes.  “Damn, I didn’t even ask for this!  I just want to protect my sister!”

Somehow he knew she was safe, so nothing else really mattered to him anymore.  So long as he survived, everything else could solve itself.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t affording him such a luxury.  Her single-mindedness on him started to grate on his nerves.  “I’m getting sick of this!  What is he even to you?!  I thought he was just your Commanding Officer!  But you’re acting too emotionally for it just to be that.”

“He’s our Captain!”

It was an immediate answer, but it felt like a reflex to him rather than the truth.  “But what is he to you!  You’re just regurgitating your discipline!”

“Me?  He’s the…Captain…”  Athene took a step back.  It finally started to seem to get through to her.  “Captain…Simonides…he’s…”

She had to think about what he meant to her.  Everything started from the point that this boy invaded her mind and flipped everything on its head.  She lost to him.  It fueled her to find him.  But Simonides, his death fueled her drive with something else.  ‘What is he to me?  What is he?’

Athene could clearly see him in her mind without any concentration.  It was just natural.  They spent years together.  All the years they spent together.

“What’s your name?” an unknown voice from the black void asked.  It sounded so distant and faint.  At the moment, it seemed the least important thing to be asking.

Reality for her was that she couldn’t feel anything.  It was dark because she couldn't open it herself.  Most of her body was beyond her mind’s ability to process pain.  It knocked her out already once and it was only his voice that somehow called out to it.  ‘Who are you?’

“Can you hear me?”

‘Yes…’

“You’re still alive, right?  I already called—“

‘Alive?  Am I alive, really?’  Any remaining consciousness faded on her again.

“I’m alive!” she shouted, throwing herself up from the bed.

“I’m sorry to inform you that this is actually the Gates of Hades,” a deep voice off to the side replied.

She jumped almost out of her startled by another presence.  When she looked, she saw a human looking form with a vase in place of their head.  “Hades?!  What?!  But why Mr. Vase!  I was a good girl!  I didn’t fight back even when they were breaking my bones!”  She started crying as it all started to sink in.  “I died…  I’m dead…”

“Wo-wo-woah!” the voice made a sudden sharp pitch to a higher tone.  The vase dropped away to reveal a boy, younger than her by a few years.  “I’m just a human like you!”  Panic quickly settled into his body trying to fix his mistake.

Through tears, she stared at the boy to confirm his story.  “So you’re dead too…”

“Ack!  N-n-no-no-no!  You’re not dead!  Neither of us are!”

“Huh?”  Her tears came to a stop.  “We’re not?”

He shook his head vigorously trying to convince her of their very much living status.  Once she started to stare at him longer, he turned his head away.  His cheeks began to grow a little red.  “Well…”  Hesitating, he rubbed his finger over his cheek trying to dig his way out of his mess.  “So-sorry, you just looked sad when you were sleeping.  I just wanted you to feel better…”

Realizing it all, her eyes widened and then lowered as her emotions quickly switched.  She picked up her pillow and chunked it at him in anger.  “The hell’s wrong with you!?”  Another pillow appeared in her hand and she threw it at him too.  “A joke?!”

The first pillow he managed to dodge, but the vase he held already moved beyond his control.  Her second pillow came at him, not expecting another.  He managed to evade it as well, somehow, but it put the vase even more out of his control.  “Watch it!  You’re going to make me—“  The next slapped him in the face.  Another, followed by another, pushed him back, almost knocking him over.

Sparing one hand to push the pillows away, he leaned forward a bit letting his emotions get caught up too.  “Careful, I almost—“  Interrupted again, this pillow hit him hard.  He completely lost his balance both from surprise and the force.  Landing on his butt with the vase in the air, he threw off the pillow to try to find the vase.  “The vase!”  He scrambled to reach for it, just before hitting the wood floor.  “Safe…” he sighed with relief.

Once it fit firmly back in his hands, he jumped up to his feet.  “Hey!  It nearly broke!”

She started to cry again.  “You said I was dead!”

“Look, I said I was sorry!  I just wanted to see you smile once, you looked so sad sleeping there.”

“I have nothing to smile about!  I won’t forgive you!”  She threw another pillow at him, but the vase stood between them.  A sudden noise startled her as he fell over sharply.  The crash and thud came as she expected, but nothing more.  He didn’t get up or say anything.

After a few seconds of waiting for something to happen, she leaned forward.  A little bit longer, she crawled towards the end of the bed.  Slowly, she peaked over the edge trying to see what happened.  “Are you alright?” she inquired cautiously.

“Ouch…”

Covered in water and flowers, but still holding the vase intact, the boy managed to save the most important.  Though in his position, it might no longer be relevant.  The sight of him, still clinging to the vase and ruined as he was, made her grin a bit.  She couldn’t help but laugh at the scene.  However, the scowl on his face from her reaction made her stop.  “Sorry, but the way you look—“  Laughter broke out over her voice.

Given the situation and she was actually smiling, he couldn’t really complain much.  He started laughing infectiously with her.

After the laughter and clean up, the boy returned to her side.  He sat on her body staring at her.  The look of sadness started to wash over her face again.  He could do nothing to keep it at bay.  “What happened?”

“Huh?”  She saw he pointed to her body, likely the cause for her hospitalization.  “Nothing.”

“That’s not nothing!  I saw you before they fixed you up!”  It wasn’t the sort of scene he expected to see.  “If I hadn’t gotten lost you could have died!”

She turned away from him.  Everyone like her knew it was an everyday occurrence.  Some got it worse than others depending on the level of interaction with those not like her.  She was still just a preteen making her easy prey.

He leapt out towards her clutching her hand.  “Don’t accept it!  It’s not right!”  His voice started to reach a yell and anger entered his throat.  “You’re human, just like them!  Don’t think any differently!”

“But I’m not…”  She dropped her Field removing all of the excess pillows she accidentally summoned.  “No normal human can do what I can.”

Suddenly, he stood up on her bed jumping a couple times.  “What if I could jump higher than anyone else?  Or run faster than everyone?  I wouldn’t be normal right?”

“Well…I guess…”

“But I’m still me.  I haven’t changed.  I’m only using what my body can do.  Right?”  She didn’t have an answer for him.  “You’re the same, it’s just in your head up here.”  He pushed his finger to her forehead.  “You just can do something with your brain that others can’t, but you’re still the same as me!”

She didn’t have a good answer for him.  She wanted to feel the same, but the world didn’t work that way.  “But no one else thinks like that, not since the rebellion.”

“Then I’ll change it!”

“How?”

He had to think about it for a second.  He just threw it out there without much thought.  Turning around in thought, once he faced her again he had an idea.  “I’ll become the King!  Then they’ll have to listen to me!”

“You can’t, only Meso Prosecho can.”

“Oh, right.  Well maybe I’ll develop them!”  He flexed his arms as though they had something to do with the power she had.  “They’re always discovering people's powers at different ages.”  However, she seemed to doubt the odds of it.  “I guess that’s not very likely, huh?”  He spun around on the bed again in thought.  It came to him.  “I got it, something more realistic!”

She stared at him in doubt, considering all of his ideas hadn’t been anywhere close to realistic.  “What?”  Even still, she had to admit some curiosity.

“I’ll become the General of the Army!  He’s got the ear of the King and the most control over the military.  I’ll do it!”  He knelt down on her bed leaning in with earnest filled eyes.  “I promise, I’ll make it happen.  I’ll command them all!  And then I’ll put an end to all of this!”

“But isn’t he appointed by the King?”

“I don’t care!  I’ll make it happen!”  He stared into her eyes trying to fill her with his conviction.  “I promise today right here in front of you, that I will become the General!”

It actually left her a bit in awe.  He seemed goofy and silly, but she could see the sincerity in his face.  There was determination and a goal where there hadn't been one before.  She wanted to tell him he couldn't do it, but she didn't think she could find any words that would convince him.

“When I’m old enough to join the military, I’ll find you!”

“But I’ll probably be assigned to one of the border gates by that point.”

“Then I’ll go there!  Doesn’t matter, I’ll start there.  I’ll become the Captain of the Gate, my first step to General!”  Suddenly a voice in the distance called out to him.  “Oh that’s my mom calling!  I’ve got to go!”  He ran off out of sight, but popped back.  “What’s your name?  So I can find you when I finish at the Academy?”

“Athene.”

“Athene, got it!  I’m Simonides!  Remember it, because I won’t be forgetting you!  It’s a promise!”  He threw out his arm in a closed fist.  “When we meet again let’s climb the ranks to the top and change the system!”

Athene found herself smiling, feeling as if he could actually achieve his bold declaration.  “It’s a promise.”

‘Others would just pass it off as childish promises and naïve hope.  Empty dreams, but he proved them all wrong.  He kept on that path the entire time until I met him again at the South Gate.  His goal has never changed.’

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