Originals and Outsiders: Assemble
The Boy And The Rope
One Month ago
“So what do you think we’re doing today?” Lacie asked, the large television screen placed in front of them.
Nick looked at her and sighed. He knew the answer, but he wasn’t allowed to say.
“Well, Mr. Frasier should be here any minute. Why don’t we just sit down and wait.”
Lacie nodded once and sat down giving him a smile. “We’ve been doing pretty well lately. You’ve made a lot of progress.”
Nick smiled, casually flipping on the television.
“Well I had a good partner, right?”
Lacie nodded, “Mmmhmm. And a good teacher.”
“That’s true.” Nick said softly, “You know, this interesting fact I learned the other day? Human brain doesn’t feel any pain. Just the body.”
“That is interesting, if not a little random. Do you…do you hear that noise?”
Lacie’s voice was becoming a little wistful as Nick continued to talk to her.
“I don’t hear a thing.” Nick said with a smile, “But just relax. Relax your mind. Human brain doesn’t feel pain right? Just the body? Separate the mind and body…relax.”
“Yeah, alright…relax…” Lacie’s voice trailed off as her head began to bob downward for a moment, before she snapped her head back, eyes becoming glazed. As this occurred, Mr. Frasier appeared from a shadow and Nick and him worked together to tie the hapless Lacie up. The two men turned to each other.
“Alright. Good job Nick. You’re getting better at the hypnosis induction with a little help from some subliminal, you’re doing great.”
Nick nodded, “I don’t like using it. But I understand the necessity of it.”
Mr. Frasier nodded. “The more important thing is you understand how it works so you can fight against it. Experts are better at fighting off other experts after all. Are you ready for the next step?”
Nick grimaced, “Yeah. I just have to let you past my meta-shield right?”
Mr. Frasier nodded, “I’ll use my powers to give you a little mind tap. It’ll compel you to try and do some pretty nasty things mind you. The mind program was salvaged from one of The Headmaster’s greatest enemies. The Jabberwocky. I’ve reduced the power of the mind control effects to about 15%, but if I notice you not struggling I’ll up it to where it’s a challenge. You’re goal is to not turn Lacie into a mindless puppet and break free yourself. Lacie knows the scenario, I told her about it before, that it would be coming up in the week.”
Mr. Frasier chuckled, “I guess she just didn’t expect her own partner would do her in.”
Nick chuckled awkwardly but Mr. Frasier continued, “Anyway, ready?”
Awareness returned slowly to Lacie as the effects of whatever had hit her wore off. It took a few minutes to realize she’d been tied and bound. It took another few seconds to realize she wasn’t simply snapping her bonds like tissue paper and sitting up. Huh? What th... what happened? Where am I? I was just... Nick... we were talking and then... Her eyes widened in realization. Ohhhh no. Oh shit! That stupid test! They hypnotized me! I need to get out of this right now! she thought furiously, struggling to break free.
Or rather, attempted to struggle. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t make her arms and legs pull with enough force to snap the flimsy ropes holding her down. Damn... must be some kind of implanted command not to break my bonds, she thought grimly, as a section of the wall slid back revealing her friend and comrade, Nick. Nick... who was staring deep into a flashing screen in the wall in front of him, seemingly oblivious to her plight.
Oh no, not you too! she winced, struggling again, despite the futility. Why did it have to be Nick, of all people? she lamented silently, cursing her foster father Jimmy Frasier. This set up had his fingerprints all over it. Of all the other students, she’d connected with him the deepest. If there was anyone who could get her to relax her guard enough to brainwash her, it was him.
Suddenly, the screen flashed brightly, then went dark. Lacie glanced up again as Nick shuddered, then turned slowly, his eyes glassy and unfocused. As he stepped towards her, however, the spark of life returned to them, and he shook his head as if to clear it. “Whoa. That was... weird,” he said slowly, blinking a few times. “They said it would be really invasive... but wow. That Jabberwocky guy may have been one seriously twisted dude, but he knew his stuff.”
Now that he’d spoken directly to her, Lacie found her voice once again worked. “Nick! You have to untie me! It’s this stupid test they warned us about. That screen... it put a bunch of stuff in your head! But all you have to do to beat it is just untie me.”
“Yeah, I know,” he mumbled, walking over to the foot of the bed, kneeling down at her left foot. He frowned slightly, staring at the rope. Rope. There was something about the ropes... something special he was supposed to watch out for...
“Um... Nick?” Lacie said, wiggling her foot to get his attention. “What’s wrong, Nick?”
“Huh?” he said, jerking slightly. “No, n-nothing,” he said, shaking his head again. “Sorry. I just got a bit... distracted.” He placed his hands on the rope, pulling at the end. It was tied rather tightly, and against anyone else, it would have likely been somewhat painful. He grinned at that. It was so strange, in a way. The young sweet innocent girl before him was so strong.... strong enough to snap the thick ropes holding her down like a piece of thread if she so much as flexed her wrists and ankles. Yet she was held down... helpless... vulnerable... all because of a few words whispered softly in her ear...
“Nick? I’m starting to get a bit worried here,” Lacie said, her voice climbing up an octave at the feeling of his hands leaving the rope, instead softly caressing the soft skin of her foot and ankle. It felt rather nice, true... but he was supposed to be untying her. True, he hadn’t actually tried to put her under and brainwash her either, but with something like the mind control they were facing, time wasn’t on their side. The longer it went, the more chance he had of succumbing... and the more chance SHE had of falling right along with him! “Nick, please! You have to focus! Remember the mission! You just have to untie me. That’s all!”
But Nick was caught in a fantasy now, her words reduced to meaningless background noise. She was so strong, so powerful... and yet so feminine. So soft to the touch. His hand traveled slowly up her leg, caressing the calf, feeling her tremble slightly at his touch. His smile grew. You could have her, you know. a dark voice seemed to whisper in the back of his mind. You could make her yours. It would be so easy. Such a strong body... but such a weak, weak mind...
“Nick! Dammit, Nick, can you hear me? Say something!” Lacie yelled.
Nick frowned. That voice. Lacie’s voice. She was... was... his friend. Teammate. Comrade. She was... yes, he remembered now. She was in trouble... and he had to save her. With an effort, he pulled his hands away from her soft enticing skin, and turned back to the ropes. Then froze again.
“N...no. No!” he grunted, closing his eyes, shaking his head. “Dammit... I can’t... do this...” he said, hands twitching. “Lacie... I’m stuck. If I go for the ropes again, I think... I’m going to do something... bad to you. Every time I try, it gets harder and harder to resist...”
“You can do this, Nick!!” Lacie pleaded. “I know you can. You’re stronger than this! Please! You have to push through!” She licked her lips. “I’m already compromised. I can’t even break these stupid bonds. It’s up to you. It has to be you!”
Suddenly, Nick blinked in surprise. Did it really have to be him? All we have to do is free Lacie from her bonds to win this exercise, he mused, opening his eyes again. He started down at the ropes, taunting him, drawing his attention and focus again. He heard the voice whispering dark thoughts into his subconscious and grinned.
“Lacie,” he said in a clear voice, “remember the spiral.”
Lacie gasped, the groaned, eyes fluttering as she sank deeper into hypnotic trance. She shook her head in denial, in futility. They’d lost. Nick had succumbed, and now so would she...
“Lacie, obey my words,” Nick said, his voice raspy with the strain, “and... break your bonds. Set yourself free... then awaken fully!”
A soft smile creased her lips even as she obeyed her Master’s commands. Moments later, both teens were panting, gasping, trying to wrap their heads around what had happened when Jimmy Frasier reentered the room. “Nicely done, nicely done, both of you,” he said, clapping softly. “I admit I was a bit worried there for a moment... but you two managed to pull it off in the end.”
“Barely,” Nick replied, still panting. “That was... a lot harder than I expected.”
Jimmy nodded. “It always is. It’s also about knowing yourself, your own strengths and weaknesses. With mind control, your subconscious is compromised. It has been turned by the controller into your own worst enemy. And who better to sabotage you than your own mind? The key to resisting is to know your own weaknesses and fight them... and take advantage of your strengths at the same time. Keep in mind, however, that it is ultimately a losing battle. Your subconscious is stronger than your conscious. You can fight it, resist it for a while, but ultimately it will win if you don’t break its control.”
“Yeah,” Lacie said with s soft sigh. “Easier said for some than others.”
“Sweetie, we’ve been through this before,” Jimmy told his foster daughter gently. “Having a submissive will is not always a bad thing. You’re already practically invincible as it is. All you have to do is practice a bit, build up your mental defenses, and then you truly will be unstoppable.” He mussed her hair playfully, getting a groan and an eyeroll in return. “Bottom line, you both did well here today. Now go on, and join your fellow classmates in some free time.”
As they left the room Nick looked over at Mr. Frasier, and gave him a scowl,
“Really though?” he snarled, “Did it have to do with…ah…did it have to be so carnal?”
For his part, Jimmy just shook his head, “Unfortunately kid. Yes. I cannot tell you how many close encounters of the carnal kind I had in my younger days. We all did. Supervillains are going to throw everything at you. You’re a leader Nick, not a follower, and ultimately, that results in your dominating nature trying to get the better of you. The voice in your head, didn’t even try and convince you to submit if I’m right?”
Nick shook his head.
“Exactly. You’re going to face that same situation, or something very much like it at one point in your career. You’ve got to be prepared.”
Lacie appeared in the doorway, peeking in, “Nick! You coming? Where were you!? Jason and Yuki are fighting again! Can you please…just help settle this!”
Nick sighed, glancing back at Mr. Frasier with a forlorn look before running off, his eyes asking Jimmy to save him from the teenage drama.
Jimmy just smiled. “Sometimes, it’s not good to be the king.”
“Damn. These kids are sort of off their rocker. What sort of anarchistic state do they want?” Jason exclaimed.
“What are you up to Jason?” Hack asked, entering the room.
“I was doing some research into those crazy kids we dealt with back at the chemical plant. I’ve been meaning to check them out, but we’ve been so busy with training, and well, this is my first opportunity.”
“They do seem like a wild bunch don’t they?” Hack said with a smile.
“You can say that again. Their ‘justice at any cost’ motto takes those words to the extreme! Like do you see how many people they’ve supposedly ‘helped’?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well for example, here they are fighting some criminal types.” Jason said, pulling up some recent video footage, “That leader girl, Xiphos, killing quickly and swiftly.”
“Hmmm.” Hack contemplated watching the screen, “Rewind it for me just a second.”
“Oh what? Uh-sure.”
Jason played the Xiphos tape back a bit and played it again so Hack could take a second look.
“Those were some clean kills.”
“Uh…what do you mean?” Jason asked, his stomach turning at the sentiment.
“I mean, look. Those kills are quick, clean and efficient. I…can I see the mouse? Yeah…ah! Just as I expected. Look.”
Hack typed a few commands on a keyboard and pulled up a second shot.
“What is this?”
“Here’s the same footage that the news showed but on CCTV cameras, undoctored.”
Jason watched as Xiphos performed the same kills but then, soon after, placing small coins over each of their eyes and bowing over them.
“What is this? Is she like…giving them their death rites? And like the coins…is she…isn’t that like a Greek mythology thing?”
“I believe so, to allow the dead to pay Charon, the ferryman of souls.” Hack replied, sitting in a chair and cracking his knuckles.
“Huh. So not so bad. I guess I gotta remember how twisted our news is these days.”
“Well you did pull that article from RCN. They grew into the news company they are today because they were at the forefront of anti-super sentiment.” Hack gave him a knowing smile.
“Huh.” Jason let out a huff, contemplating the older man’s words. “Uh Professor? Can I ask you a question?”
“Hmm?” Hack mused as he swiveled the chair to watch the news footage before them.
“Who was Allison?”
“Well.” Hack replied, thinking for a moment, “I guess you kids do deserve to know. There was a great hero once, Paper Doll. The Headmaster and her were training partners after he lost his powers temporarily. It was a rough time for Kyle. He had just fought the Jabberwocky and barely won. If Lucy hadn’t intervened, we would’ve all been dead or mindless puppets, and I had just entered my super villain phase—”
“WAIT! You were a super villain professor?”
“I mean not 100% willingly.” Hack said with a smile, “The Jabberwocky hit our minds with a powerful blast of dark energy. Nick actually should be training against it today now that I think about it. It tempts and corrupts the mind if used properly. The Jabberwocky brought out all the evil parts of me and brought them to the forefront. I’m at fault too though.”
Hack gave a wince, “I wasn’t strong enough to resist after all.”
“What did you do?” Jason asked, “As a supervillain I mean.”
“Well, I developed a mind control device and tried to turn all of Kyle’s friends against him, break him of his will and bring out his dark side. That’s what I had been convinced would let us deal with the big threat coming our way.”
“Yes. That’s where Paper Doll comes in you see. Much later, Paper Doll and Kyle, they teamed up with Lucy, she has…marionette powers would be the best way to put it I guess, to defeat an otherworldly force that couldn’t be damaged normally. They combined their strength and defeated the force. Allison and Paper Doll were best friends, and that’s how Kyle and Allison met.”
“What were they like?”
“They were witty, passionate, deeply in love. They made a good match. Kyle’s had a lot of girls in his life, but Allison was definitely special. He settled down with her for goodness sake. That takes a lot for people like us.”
“People like us?” Jason asked, “What do you mean?”
“That’s a story for another day.” Hack said with a smile.
Jason nodded, “Well Prof, I think I need to get stronger. I couldn’t keep up with anyone in that fight the other day.”
“You’re really pushing yourself lately. Don’t take it too hard.” Hack said encouragingly, “But with that being said, I’ve been proud of the way you’ve applied yourself lately.”
Jason drew back slightly, but then smiled, “Thanks.”
He got up from the chair, “I better get to training then! Ms. Lauren will kill me if I’m late.”
Jason gathered his things and started into a quick jog out the door.
“I’d be more worried about that Yukino if I were you!” Hack called after him.
“Lacie. Hey.” Nick said as he set foot on the training floor. It had been another tough session today, but Nick had noticed that Lacie had been training extra hard lately. She was here after classes had ended, again.
She’s been working really hard. But not the good kind of hard work. Something has…
“Not too much time to talk Nick.” Lacie said with a smile, “I’m busy training.”
She began lifting weights on a bench press.
“Can I at least spot you?” Nick asked.
Lacie huffed, “Thanks. But I’m lifting like 2 tons right now. I don’t think you can actually.”
“Oh.” Nick said with a sigh, he had forgotten.
The weights that Lacie was working with were specialized, able to naturally amplify the gravity of Earth and become incredibly heavy at a moment’s notice, but calibrated to the user so as not to hurt them. Lacie’s super strength was immense, someone like Nick couldn’t even begin to try and lift her weights, let alone spot her. Lacie had been uncomfortably distant for the past two weeks. Was she purposely picking an activity that he couldn’t participate in?
“Lacie, hey. Are you alright?”
Lacie did another rep of her weights before setting it on the rack, exhaling deeply, looking at him, “Why do you ask?”
“We haven’t talked lately.” Nick managed, “I…well I’ve been concerned. We’re partners after all.”
Lacie let out a soft chuckle at that. “What?” Nick asked.
“Partners. That’s funny.”
“Yeah we are Lace. What do you think we are otherwise?” Nick insisted.
“Partners implies we’re on equal footing Nick.”
“We’re not?” Nick asked, bewildered.
She shook her head, “Are you really gonna mock me like that? You saw what happened in our first mission as a team. I got manhandled by a tiger-girl and got myself blasted with my own powers.”
“Ok yeah but—”
“Nick, if it was just you and me, you would’ve been a mindless shell serving that girl’s whims! Who knows what would have happened to me!? We needed Moses and the others to bail us out, and then even after they did, I couldn’t even begin to hold my own!”
Lacie was livid now staring at him with passionate eyes, “And then just earlier! I let you hypnotize me and we barely passed that last training session with Jimmy, and really we passed because you were there—”
Nick grabbed her hand a little too forcefully, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on. What got you thinking all of that?”
Lacie’s eyes were beginning to well up with tears, “Nick please. I just need some space.”
“Bullshit.” Nick said locking eyes with her, “This is exactly what I do when I’m really upset.”
“Huh?” Lacie was momentarily stunned.
“Look. I don’t know how I get you so well, but this is exactly what I do. I feel like I’ve failed everyone around me so I throw myself at a problem over and over. Yeah it makes you feel better about yourself in the short term, but well, it doesn’t help in the end.”
Lacie frowned, crossing her arms, “Yeah? How do you know?”
“Well my mom left my family when I started high school. It destroyed my dad, he turned to alcohol and cigarettes. He couldn’t really hold a steady job. It was just me and him. I yelled at my mom that day. Asked her if she really cared about us. Asked her if she wanted me to do well in life for herself, or because she loved me. I cussed her out. My dad was horrified at the time. I was too. Inside.”
Nick rubbed the back of his head, “I blamed myself for our family problems. I told myself that if I had just kept my cool that Dad would still have a job and that he wouldn’t just sit at home most of the time and watch the news. Maybe Mom wouldn’t have left us. Stuff like that. I read this thing in a self help book, something about not being a martyr to my circumstances and hanging myself before I’d lost, that tragedy and failure was just an opportunity for me to push myself harder. If life tried to hang me with a rope, I’d seize that noose and use it to lasso myself a new life. So I bottled it all up, all that emotion, and pushed myself in school. I didn’t talk to too many people, they weren’t the priority, being successful was. Taking care of my family, proving to my Mom that I had made something of myself. It still motivates me I guess.”
“You asked your mom if she loved you and she left?” Lacie asked, quietly.
“Yeah. Pretty terrible huh?” Nick replied, a soft chuckle escaping his lips.
“But you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Exactly.” Nick said turning to her, “And neither have you.”
Lacie looked at him for a second, connecting the dots, “No wait—”
Nick shook his head, “Lacie, trust me. You can’t blame yourself for everything like that. My mom was probably leaving, my parent’s marriage was hanging on by a thread, my Dad has dependency issues. I played a bit of hero ball and took us into that chemical plant after everyone went off to report in. I should’ve accounted for Firewire’s flames more and you’re wounded state. Jason needed to take down Murmur quicker. Moses needs to not be so reckless. Anna needs to be more confident and react quicker to with her abilities. Yukino needs to not have a stick up her ass and try and not go solo all the time. The Headmaster pushes us a bit too hard, Mr. Frasier’s tests are close to insane. Everyone’s to blame.”
He looked at her again, even more intensely than before, “Training’s good and all, and it’s good to know your weaknesses, but we all made mistakes here. We all share the burdens of our failures. Is the rope a noose or just something to grab to overcome your failures, better yourself, and move on?”
Lacie smiled at him pulling him into a big hug, crying tears of relief. “When did you get so wise?” She asked him.
“After I asked every teacher and student in this school what to do about you moping around.” Nick said with a laugh, breaking apart.
“Come on. Let’s head out,” He added, “I’ve got some ice cream in the fridge for you.”
“Wait Nick.” Lacie said, “There’s still one thing.”
Nick stopped in his tracks, looking at her, curious as to what she would say next.
“This mind control business. We’ve got to practice more alright?”
“Practice? I mean yeah I think so. But how?”
“Well you’ve learned hypnosis right?”
Nick nodded solemnly.
“Well I’ve got to practice resisting, you too. You saw how we did today. We need a lot of work. We faced it in training and you got hit by that whip that Xiphos had. We need to be prepared.”
Nick nodded, “Yeah. I just hate using that sorta stuff you know? Like it’s dangerous to mess with people’s minds like that.”
If only she knew how close I was to just dominating her mind back there in training He thought.
Lacie nodded, “But I trust you. And we need to practice.”
Nick nodded, “Let me think about it alright?”
She nodded, “That’s all I can ask for. Now what flavor did you get me? It better be Mint flavored.”
“I got you Mint Chocolate Chip?”
“YES! That is my favorite flavor!”
“Yeah. Mr. Frasier told me.”
The two talked animatedly as they walked down the hall. Out of the corner of his eye, Nick could swear he saw Yukino sneaking out a window, but he was far too busy talking with Lacie to care for the moment.
“Seriously though?” Lacie laughed, “you spent all that time and all you could do was come up with that lame rope metaphor?”
“Hey I thought it was pretty good!” Nick put up his hands defensively.
Lacie laughed, flashing him a big smile, “It was helpful at least. Thank you.”
Jason D’Angelo sighed heavily, panting, leaning forward against the wall with one hand. He was battered, bruised, and sore all over. And that was merely on the outside. Inside, he was a tightly wound spring of anger, and frustration, just ready to snap. Taking a deep breath, he stood back up straight, lifting his staff once more, thrusting it forward, only to cry out in pain as it was, yet again, knocked away, the force of the blow knocking it free from his numb and stiff fingers.
“Kuso!” Yukino Taya grunted in frustration, tossing her own staff to the floor. “That is it! We are done!” She spun on her heel, stomping her way back towards the exit.
“Done? Huh? Wait! Yuki, hold on!”
The ninja spun around, scowling. “It’s Taya-san,” she snarled, teeth bared. “You do not get to use the diminutive of my name! I can only hope you show your NEXT trainer more respect that you have shown me!”
Jason frowned. “What do you mean, ‘next’ trainer? Mr. Frasier assigned us to train together.”
“Hmph! Mr. Frasier was under the false impression that you were capable of training with me. Indeed, I am not training at all... I am babysitting!” She sighed heavily. “You do possess... some skill,” she admitted grudgingly, “but you do not have the physical attributes to utilize them! Showing you my moves is merely a waste of time if you are physically unable to move as I move! And my own training is suffering because of it! I am not advancing in my own skills... instead I find myself being pulled down to your level!”
“Well FINE then!” Jason snapped, yelling loudly, causing Yukino to blink in surprise. “If I’m such a goddamn disappointment to you, then by all means, leave! Better yet, I’ll tell Mr. Frasier that I want to train by myself... so I don’t drag any of the OTHER students down to my level as well! Would that make you happy? HUH?!?”
The ninja blinked again, opening and closing her mouth a few times in shock, not sure how to respond. In all the time they’d spent together, the young boy had not so much as raised his voice to her. Despite all of her jabs and insults, he’d taken them all in stride. Seeing him explode this way, all of a sudden... it was a total shock. Taken aback, she turned for the door, and simply left, leaving him in the training room all alone.
“Well... that totally sucked,” Jason murmured softly to himself, shaking his head. Truth be told, despite everything she’d said, he wasn’t mad at her. The fact is, she was right, he told himself sadly. I am holding her back. If there’s one thing I learned on that trip to the chemical plant the other day, its that I’m definitely the weakest link. Nick has his shield, Lacie is a goddamn powerhouse... Yuki’s a freaking ninja, Moses has his tech, and Anna has her magic. But me? All I can do is copycat people... and I can’t even do THAT right!
Making his way over to the entrance, he paused to glance at his reflection in the polished metal door. He wasn’t bad looking, really, as far as people went. He’d even go so far as to say he was handsome. But looks aside, what stood out to him the most was the one word Yuki had used to describe him—soft. His arms, his legs, his chest and stomach... there was no definition there at all. Ugh... too many days spent inside, playing video games or studying. I might be the smartest of the students here... but a fat load of good it does me when we’re out in the field.
“If only there was some way I could get in shape fast,” he said aloud, shaking his head.
“Excuse me, Sir,” the computer AI’s voice piped up, the small glowing avatar appearing before him. “Were you making an official inquiry?”
“Nolan? Not really, but...” Jason considered. “Since you brought it up, IS there a way I could get in shape, like, super fast? I mean, without using drugs or steroids, or anything. I’d kinda prefer it if my junk didn’t shrink, yanno?”
“I see. Well, Sir, while there are no recorded methods in my memory banks concerning a way of becoming physically fit quickly without the use of experimental and dangerous drugs, I do contain a very specialized training regiment that does allow for advanced muscle growth as well as increased endurance and strength, in a very short amount of time.”
“Hmm? How short a time are we talking? And how much of a change would it make?”
“Three weeks time. And provided you adhere to the regimen, an expected two hundred percent improvement across the board.”
T-two hundred percent? In three weeks?!? “Are you kidding me, Nolan? Tha... that can’t be real!”
“Sir, I assure you, I am very serious, and yes, the results are quite real. There IS a downside, however. The training regimen of which I speak was developed by Veronica Albinn and her husband, Parker, also known as Shinobi and Echo. It involved an extremely brutal physical conditioning, enforced by hypnotic suggestion, which allows the person to go beyond their body’s physical limits for a short amount of time. Afterwards, the person is left a physical wreck, with severe muscle strains and tears, often requiring bedrest for days to recover. Each additional session pushing the person even further, forcing their body to adapt and strengthen itself to keep up with the demand at an accelerated rate. You’ll especially utilize the ropes course in a combination of aerobics, strength and agility training, and as a learning tool to overcome personal fear and weakness.”
Nolan displayed a holographic tutorial of some of the training that Jason would have to go through and Jason watched as a little holographic “Jason” ran through a grueling ropes course like he was Spiderman, dodging lasers and fire traps while blindfolded.
Jason blinked. “God the ropes course from hell? I have to hop around that thing like a spider monkey crossed with Daredevil?”
Jason cringed for a moment before taking a deep breath. “But Nolan… you’re saying this actually works?!?”
“Correct. As a matter of fact, the Headmaster, Dr. Frasier, Mrs. Frasier, and several of the instructors have used this training method personally. There is a side note in the file however that you should be aware of, however... a notice left by the original authors of the training method.”
“Huh? Some kind of warning? well, go ahead and tell me. I really need to improve, and fast... so I doubt it will discourage me.”
“Very well, sir. The message reads as follows: ‘Just so you know, I’m going to work you really hard. And most likely you won’t do anything for the next two days other than sleep, wake up to eat, or use the bathroom, then go back to sleep again. I’m going to hypnotize you. Then I’m going to make you excercise. A lot. I’m going to push your body to its breaking point, and then past it. And when you come out of it, you’re going to vomit. That’s a given. And cry. You’ll sob like a little baby. You may actually pass out. That happens roughly half the time. Oh, and one person actually shit himself, but that was probably just an anomaly.’”
Jesus. “Um... Nolan?” he said in a low voice, “Can I assume that if I decide to try this, you’ll be monitoring my vitals, and will stop the session if it looks like I’m about to have a heart attack or something?”
“Of course, Sir.”
Jason sighed deeply. “In that case, Nolan, please secure the training area until the session is over, and inform the infirmary shortly after the session ends, and notify Mr. Frasier of what happened, and why. And, no one else. I just want this to be our little secret.” He sighed softly. “It’s Friday, so I can afford to spend the next two days in bed.” Resigned, he turned to face the far wall as it opened up and a monitor appeared, showing a slowly turning spiral.
All right. Here we go. Time to show everyone that I’m not a weak link!
Nick sat upright in bed, rubbing his shoulder. What the hell had just happened. Everything had happened so fast. His memory was fuzzy from the night before…what had he been doing? He remembered chasing Yukino and finally being able to keep pace…than…nothing.
And then Anna jumps my bones first thing in the morning. Who knew I’d lose my virginity like that? Thirteen year old me would’ve never believed this.
What had come over Anna? He couldn’t totally understand. Such behavior wasn’t like her really. She had been a bit bashful around him. He had just taken that as her being a bit shy or nervous around new people, a little clumsy and unsure of herself, but the Anna this morning had been an animal, an animal in heat desperate and savage.
She knew what she wanted and she just grabbed it. And she said she’s coming back tomorrow.
Thinking it over briefly, Nick resolved that he would talk to her in private and end things right there. Anna was a beautiful girl, sweet, energetic, and a valuable teammate, but something was off here.
Besides, I really think I’m much more into…oh God! Does this count as cheating on Lacie?! We’re not exactly together but still…
As he wrestled with these thoughts Jason rushed into the room,
“Nick! Nick! Come quick!” Jason exclaimed in a wild frenzy, panting.
“What!? What!? What happened?” Nick cried out.
“It’s Lacie! She’s gone!”