REWIND: How To Commit Genocide in 48 Hours
Hermes cupped a hand over his eye and the exposed one turned dark, the hue cycling out from his iris until it was a blueberry color. He knelt down next to Renji.
"Mhm. He's going to die."
"Yes," said Asano. "I made sure of it."
Hermes had waited for the contestants' excitement to die down before he defiled the soon-to-be corpse. He had enough experience with humans to know that they did very stupid things in large groups.
He tried not to show his disgust at touching a human as he caressed Renji's face. "I can't wait to pluck out these eyes when his team loses."
"The referee is biased."
Black Mask stepped out from Hermes' shadow, tilting out and upright like he was emerging from ocean depths. A bead of sweat picked it's way down Hermes' face. An agonizing itch told him to flee, but there was no running from Black Mask, the Left Hand of the Mistress.
"Pardon?" Hermes swallowed.
"Don't doubt our other players." Black Mask's fingers rubbed against Hermes like he was wiping something on him. "Show me the boy."
Hermes whisked out of Black Mask's way in a flash. He reappeared, kneeling.
"Right here, sir."
The rest of these imbeciles should be kneeling, too! They don't know his power like I do!
He was the only sane person in this arena. He glanced up and confirmed his belief. The monkeys were all staring at Black Mask as if he was a complex equation - but no, he was quite simple. If he liked you, you lived. If he didn't, you died. Hermes had spent eons staying on his good side.
Black Mask poked Renji with his cane. "He's a tough one. I like him."
Asano placed his fingers together as if he was a waiter ready to take an order. "Please don't deprecate my artwork."
Something gleamed under the Black Mask.
"And I like this one even more. Asano, right? I've been meaning to talk more with you. But that can wait."
Black Mask stabbed Renji with the cane. It thunked once, twice, sinking under layers of flesh and sinew. He throttled the cane like a motorcycle and a green light shot down it. Renji's body jumped three times before Black Mask removed the cane. The wound it left had vanished. The hole in the gi remained.
Renji's eyes shot open. The typical response Black Mask usually received after doing this was a panicked screaming. They'd usually roll around a few times and piss themselves if they were feeling lucky. But the boy only blinked.
"Am I dead?"
"Sadly, no. Get up. The floor's dirty with your blood."
Renji peeled away from his coagulated fluids and shakily stood. His knees wobbled.
"Congrats, kid. That's the second time you've died."
"Hermes, take him to my waiting room. I'll take it from here for a while. Come back in… ten minutes."
Hermes scooped up Renji and waited as Black Mask performed a mock knighting ceremony on him. As soon as the cane touched the second shoulder, both Hermes and Renji blipped away.
Black Mask wiped off the tip of the cane. "I owe you all an apology. My subordinate is a real stickler. I assume he hasn't even told you our purpose? No? Yeah, so up to this point, this has simply been a game of survival for you all. No longer, my friends.
"This is a game of dreams. Of wishes. If you pass every Game we put you through, all the trials and tribulations of the past will bear their fruit. In the form of one thing - a wish. Any one thing that has existed or will exist will be yours. We are Gods, after all. It's not that hard. Do you like that?
"Some of this has already been told to some of you, but we needed to weed out those with no Sei potential before we began the real Exam.
"The first game was designed to bring out your Sei. Sei potential shows itself in a time of crisis. Even a person who has never once heard the word in their life will, if they have the capacity, unleash Sei in a life or death situation, as you humans call it. Death from falling is rather silly, in my humble opinion, but it's fairly common in places with this 'gravity'. The first game eliminated the seventy percent of people that have no potential. All of you here are now eligible candidates.
Except for you."
Black Mask tilted his cane at Haruko Akabane.
"You're going to be a problem."