Short Stories

Combat-itive Strageties (2/2)

Yay!! After this story, there’s another slice of life thing with Jovan and Robert later that day. But wow… April 22 really has lasted a while, hasn’t it? XD Actually, though, I debated not including this one because it’s just more nonsense….before I realized the REASON I’m doing LAPH is to post nonsense.

April 22, 444 EoP. Monday 16:30

“Hey,” Robert greeted when he felt Denise’s bubbly presence slow her fast pace to match his more slow one.

“You don’t know Relectricity?!” Denise whisper-shouted at him, her voice blasting into his right ear. She certainly was focused when she wanted. “At least you’ve heard of the REDs, right?”

I’ve heard of the color red, Robert dryly thought, keeping his gaze ahead of him. But snark wasn’t becoming, and he was also busy trying to breathe, which meant a short “No,” would have to do.

From a sideways glance, though, it didn’t look like Denise minded much. She was exploding with something that seemed to be filled with an overabundance of energy. “Robert?! They’re the most famous group in Northwestern and a pretty huge name in the world. Relectricity—Miss Harintan, that is—she’s one of their best and co-founded the group.”

That was still news to him. Wonder what she’s doing here as a teacher, though? Robert thought as he found her barking orders to two identical-looking boys. He also happened to note a girl on a wheelchair breaking through the boys, cackling.

Wheelchair girl also received an earful.

“That’s interesting,” he commented distractedly.

“Yeah it is!” Denise agreed profusely, apparently not noticing the images that so fascinated Robert. From the way her feet seemed to be floating above the ground, Robert had to wonder if she ever got tired.

He regretfully watched Denise as she somehow managed to run without dying. Man, what he wouldn’t give to have that kind of strength. Not that he wanted to work for it, but it would be nice if he could keep pace with Jovan.

Anyway, the REDs…“How do you know them?”

And then Denise did a short backwards run for the sole purpose of staring at him in disbelief. “Who doesn’t know them? Have you never even turned on the news?”

“Ah, sometimes…but I stuck to other channels…I might have heard of them before…when my parents turned on the news. But that was like…seven years ago…so I wouldn’t remember.” Robert had to forcibly shut himself up. Just on his second lap and he was already out of breath.

Denise shook her head and turned back to a forward run. “What have you been watching then?”

Seeing as that was probably rhetorical, Robert didn’t offer an answer. Rather, for the purposes of not talking, he prompted, “Tell me about the Relectricity.” He glanced up at their PE teacher clapping her hands and goading for the students to pick it up. “If you can, that is.”

That seemed to make her happy enough. Because she didn’t stop talking for the rest of the five laps. Actually, she attracted some of their other classmates, who jumped in when they could. Robert was mildly envious of their ability to talk and run, and he didn’t appreciate them blocking the cool winter breezes that permeated through the weather guard.

It all ended with, “I can’t believe you…just did that…with her, though. That really freaked us out. You’re Robert, though, right?”

Having no idea who amongst the four faceless teens had just spoken, Robert nodded. “Yep. But it’s not too bad. I know it was a bit cheeky…but I panicked.”

“Right,” the voice laughed.

“See, I told you he’d be cool, Wilbur,” Denise shot at the voice.

Having no idea what that meant, Robert duly ignored it. And finally, laps were finished, allowing him to see a Northwestern-hailing boy with black hair and blue eyes standing about a head taller than his own self laughing. He (Wilbur?) grinned at Robert. “Sorry, man…but don’t listen to Denise. I just said you seemed quiet in the morning classes, not uncool.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?” Denise huffed, then glanced at Robert. “Not that quiet is uncool. Just that Wilbur made it sound like it was.”

“Did not…”

They had to stop talking when they reached the group in the center of the field, where a well-sized box of soft sand replaced the pavement. A good thing, honestly, because Robert needed a little break from running five circuits around a stony rectangular field the size of a fútbol stadium. At least I know this class will increase my stamina from the warmups alone, he conceded.

“Class 7, please pay attention as I walk you through our next exercise.” She glanced at Robert and gave another somewhat scary wry smile. “For Ashanra’s sake, I’ll explain that we’ve been going through the basics of hand-to-hand combat and strategizing the best ways to couple the moves we learn with the power we’re gifted with.”

Oh, come on… Robert stifled a sigh and nodded in thanks to Miss Harintan. That’s another thing I can’t do…well, I guess I could learn hand-to-hand but why? I don’t want to fight.

The Combat instructor tapped her foot on the ground and tilted her head at the students. “Gale and Korbin Falconer, please come and demonstrate for the class what you’ve learned.”

The twin boys Miss Harintan had shouted at before for lagging stepped forth. Both were identical in appearance—Northwestern, clearly, with their tanned fair-olive skin and auburn hair. One had his jacket tied to his waist and promptly dropped it to the ground beside a boy with gray hair. “Told you we should’ve waited,” the jacketless Falconer sighed.

“Shut up, Gale,” the other—it must be Korbin, then—said with a similar sigh, then angled himself in a fighting stance.

When both were ready, and the students had backed away a little, Miss Harintan yelled, “Go!”

Flames and winds (and quite a lot of sand but less than one would expect) erupted almost simultaneously. Robert jerked backwards at the pressure but kept his eyes on the two fighters.

Korbin—a boy who could not only control flames but use his own body heat to generate them—lunged at his brother with an uppercut.

“Notice how his hands are burning with flames ready to unleash them,” Miss Harintan calmly commented.

Indeed, in all the wind and flames, Robert could see that Korbin had struck with a fistful of fire. Only…Gale—an aerokinetic with a minor ability in sound—had used the wind to dodge at the last second and bring down an ax stomp to his brother’s back.

“He’s using the wind to not only jump higher but to hit harder,” Miss Harintan continued. “But Korbin’s not done.”

The said ax stomp would have crushed anyone’s spine, really, except Korbin somehow managed to roll away and simultaneously shoot flames at his twin.

Somewhat clumsily, Gale dodged the blows and landed on the ground in unsteady feet. “And as you can note…Gale hasn’t mastered the art of flying with the wind quite yet,” Miss Harintan pointed out as both boys regrouped themselves.

At that moment, Korbin pushed himself off the ground and tackled his brother onto the sand.

It seemed as if the fight was over, but Miss Harintan hadn’t said anything, and Robert estimated from the student’s abated breaths that they were waiting for something to happen.

Well, that something was Gale using the wind to launch both him and his brother above the ground, scaring Korbin and releasing his grip. Gale used it to kick his brother on the chest—“again, he’s using the wind’s force”—and finally used its pressure to keep him down.

“And that’s a wrap for me,” Korbin panted, prostrate on the floor, eyes facing the clear sky.

I really hope they don’t expect me to fight like that, was Robert’s only thought as he refocused his horrified gaze back onto the teacher.

Except apparently, the fight that seemed pretty impressive to Robert didn’t faze Miss Harintan one bit. “An excellent fight, boys, but you both need to build up on speed and stamina. Gale, you have good instincts but use your abilities too similarly—it’s getting too predictable. Try to incorporate your power with sound and practice balancing on the air.”

Gale shivered and stalked back up to the students. “Yes ma’am,” he saluted her, picking up his jacket and sliding it over his t-shirt.

Miss Harintan frowned at Korbin, who quaked under her scrutiny before sneezing. “Korbin, you’re more balanced and natural in incorporating your abilities, but you’re slower than Gale.”

“He does have a bit of a windy advantage…” Korbin mumbled, blinking away sneeze-induced tears, teeth chattering slightly.

Wrong thing to say, considering the furrowed eyebrows and sharp glare Korbin received. “You’re more attuned with your abilities and yet are limited by the amount of heat you can produce. Hone your fighter’s skills so you can use your fire generating abilities when it matters rather than whenever you’re panicked.”

Korbin swallowed and gave his teacher a charming grin. “Yes, ma’am.” He, too, punctuated this with a salute.

Miss Harintan then turned to Robert. “Do you see what we’re attempting to do?”

Oh, I see it. And am walking far away now because I don’t think that’s how I’m ever going to learn combat. Rather than voicing his concerns (and desire for an instruction manual…or a prayer book), Robert nodded. “How do I apply it with my lack of powers?” he asked instead.

“That’s not your concern now,” Miss Harintan brutally waved aside. “In due time, we’ll see how you do in a real fight. But first, you have to learn the basics of hand-to-hand, and that goes for the rest of you as well.”

Considering that no one contested her, and most were looking at her with wide-eyed adoration, Robert guessed that Combat wasn’t only Denise’s favorite class. The dull students from the previous periods, even the ones who didn’t seem impressed by their Combat teacher, were alert and charged with energy.

And here I am, wishing this period was forty-five minutes like the others instead of a full hour. School was just school, and maybe he’d be lucky and Jovan would get an offer for another teaching position that paid as well as LAPH did. Except Jovan doesn’t care about money and just wanted me to socialize and have a good school to add to his resume, the jerk.

“All right, students! Time to show Ashanra the basic stances and moves! Let’s GO!”

And for the rest of the class, Robert found himself being forced to learn the basic forms, watching Denise and Sedarah Bour—that was the Central girl with the arrogant eyes that had asked Jovan why he was here—go through a basic fighting routine and then goaded to repeat them.

Mercifully, five in the afternoon did strike, and the long, eight-hour day was over.

Lemon Duck is a tired student of an unspecified race and age at an unspecified location whose Christian background (current ground?) prevents her from truly going full on criminal. Her species tends to shift depending on her mood, but she is usually somewhat human. She tries to write, draw, read, watch, and study in an attempts to complete her humanity but instead found that being chaos incarnate was a more fulfilling job.

Despite owning multiple blogs, most of them are dead and one is currently being overtaken by a weekly serial she definitely would like you to comment, criticize, like, and share; she is definitely not at all writing this biography to appear professional, forego her usual end comments, or profess her love of alphabetical orders. She also sends her love to her inducktrinated minions readers and hopes they’ve enjoyed this week’s story.

P.S. I can’t wait to introduce you guys to Robert’s classmates.

©Lemon Duck, 2021. All rights reserved.

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