Chapter 14:

In Jeopardy

The Time Capsule - Part 1

  We retired rather early that day, because we were all tired, mostly emotionally. Saiko-chan was exhausted in every possible way; she slept along with Dai-jar, holding him tight and close as if it/he was a teddy bear. All but our two guards were already asleep at about 10 p.m. On guard duty, at the roof, were Midori-chan and my Fumiko-chan. They were to be replaced at 4 a.m. by Asuga-chan and Akira-kun. Fumiko-chan was getting the hang of her telepathy with every hour that passed, but she still wasn't as strong as Saiko-chan, since the latter had awoken about two days earlier.

  We had no reason to suspect that we were going to be attacked that night. I mean, don't the survivors have something better to do instead of assaulting each other? Such as, you know, focus on.. surviving? The first few hours were uneventful. I talked to everyone about how to keep the guards awake :

  "You do not just look for hostiles, you also ensure each of one you is awake. If one of you falls asleep and the other one does not wake them up and they fall asleep as well we will be left with two very asleep 'guards' who were only 'guarding' each other's dreams. We need to avoid that at all costs. The guards are our alarm system; their job is to remain alert at all times -all six hours of their shift- so that they warn us of incoming danger. If both our guards fall asleep that's it, we are done".

  Hideo-sensei used to say that earning respect is much better than instilling fear, but the latter was sometimes necessary. In life & death situations, for instance, respect is largely useless. If people do not fear they are going to lose their lives, and thus be careful not to, they are going to lose them. So I played the fear card to keep us all alive. Did it work? We shall see.

  The following -the bits where I was not present I mean- were narrated to me by Fumiko-chan.

  It was the first time Fumiko-chan and Midori-chan were alone together. They were supposed to remain in their posts at the back and front of the roof, to look for hostiles, but they could not resist some 'idle girl talk', as Fumiko-chan tried to explain. A 22-year old pre-PhD student along with her 3-year old junior. The former had barely traveled overseas (just once to South Korea, for a 5-day excursion with her school), while the latter had lived two thirds of her life in the UK.

  "Senpai", Midori-chan asked, "are you happy? Do you think life is even worth living in such a world or should we just give up?", if that is Midori-chan's 'idle talk' I have no idea what her 'serious talk' could possibly be about. Suicide methods maybe?

  "What happened sweetie, do you feel depressed or something?", Midori-chan replied, "it is a bit late for such kind of 'idle talk' and we are also on the clock you know".

  "No, I do not feel depressed. I am just wondering if we should even try surviving since everything appears to be futile, that's all".

  "But that's what depression is all about Midori-chan: futility. I am not quite sure everything is futile. I do not think nature is evil; she didn't completely wipe us out after all. She gave some of us a second chance. And on top of that she gave us gifts. Has your own manifested yet?"

  Midori-chan was hesitant. She looked like she has hiding something important.

  "What is it? Tell me", Fumiko-chan pressed on.

  "I cannot quite.. describe my gift. I am not sure it even is a gift. I have not allowed it to manifest yet because I am afraid about what will happen. I feel it is dangerous, but I do not yet know how exactly", she explained.

  "Come on girl, spit it out!", Fumiko-chan insisted - she shouldn't have had, in retrospect, but there was no way she knew what would happen.

  "You see, I am singing.. only in my dreams at the moment. I sing with a voice which calls upon all men - and only men. Kind of like a Siren or a Lorelei calling upon sailors. I am afraid to act on it though, because in my dreams I feel my singing to be extremely powerful, irresistible. However each time I sleep I sing louder in my dreams, so I worry my singing will 'spill out' eventually".

  Fumiko-chan, predictably, was far more excited and curious than worried about what might happen if Midori-chan sang. She weighed the pros and cons for a couple of minutes in her head and sadly her bottomless curiosity prevailed upon her worries and caution.

  "Can you try singing very slowly for a few seconds so that I listen to you? We are all alone up here and I am a girl, so I will not be affected. I am just curious to hear how your singing sounds, that's all", Fumiko-chan suggested while trying her best to suppress her excitement; she didn't want Midori-chan to think she was a 'complete weirdo', she said.

  Midori-chan was skeptical. She worried what she was being asked to do was reckless, as she later admitted to Fumiko-chan. Nevertheless she also did not want to disappoint her senpai, and also wanted to see how her gift actually worked. Now that all the boys were asleep and she was alone with a girl it should be safe to test her gift, right? So she tried singing, as low as she possibly could.

  Right at that moment we (me, Akira-kun and the other boys) heard a calling deep in our head. It was the sweetest voice we had ever heard,  as we later all admitted, and it woke us right up. We heard it directly with our minds, not our ears. We had no way to resist it, it broke our free will completely. We did not want to resist it anyway. If the heavenly voice told us to jump from the windows of the fourth floor we all would have, with no second thought.

  We felt like puppets moved by invisible yet powerful strings. We all just wanted to see where the voice came from, so we tried going to the roof.

  At the same time, tens of boys and men started approaching our building from all sides. The girls did not yet know that but Fumiko-chan soon spotted them. She told Midori-chan to stop her singing -which Fumiko could barely hear, she only hear a whisper she said- but she looked like she was in some kind of trance and would not stop. She tried slapping her; still nothing. Fumiko-chan saw there were at least 30 boys and men who were trying to get inside our building. Our back door was secure, but the front door would not last for long.

  Eventually she punched Midori-chan as hard as she could in the face. That worked but she almost broke her knuckles - along with Midori-chan's nose. She fell unconscious on the ground and her nose started bleeding. Her singing, and along with it the 'spell', finally stopped.

  We felt the sweet voice getting lost in the distance, deep in our minds, and we tried reaching it but we couldn't. It took us 5 to 10 minutes to pull ourselves back together, but I still recall Midori-chan's voice. Words are completely inadequate to describe how I and the others felt. We felt like we were in Paradise, and when that voice stopped we were abruptly kicked out, like Lucifer.

  We finally reached the roof to see what happened. We saw Fumiko-chan looking rattled, holding her right hand in pain, and Midori-chan was still lying on the floor, unconscious and with a bloody and probably broken nose; we deliberately avoided placing chairs on the roof so that the guards do not fall asleep on them.

  "Wha.. what on bloody Earth happened?", I asked, "was it she  who was singing in our heads?"

  Fumiko-chan looked exactly like the proverbial cat who ate the canary. I half-suppressed a spontaneous giggle. Her facial expression was a bit too much.

  "Look", she said, "I take full responsibility. She did not want to sing but I applied pressure on her like an idiot. My curiosity got the better of me. Again. However we have bigger problems than Midori-chan's potential broken nose", she nodded toward the back and front streets. "It doesn't look like all our guests have left".

  "Guests?! What are you talk...-", I carefully peeked at the front street. I did not know at the time how many men had gathered before but there were still seven boys and men who were trying to get inside. At the back entrance there were just two, who looked like they were about to give up. 'Are they trying to get inside due to after-effects from Midori-chan's 'calling' or just because they found new marks to attack?', I wondered internally.

  The front entrance intruders looked like they were from at least two different groups so they did not get along well. Three of them were already fighting each other. I saw one smite another with what looked like a small thunder, as if he was the reincarnation of Zeus or something. He did not look like he killed him, he probably just put him under.

  Haru-kun, Akira-kun and Hinata-kun were all watching the intruders carefully. We did not yet know whether we would need to fight some of them or if they would take out each other first.

  It looked like the fighting got fiercer down there and three of them were either killed or seriously wounded. The two guys at the back door gave up trying to get in and left. So now there were four left, two + two from different groups from what I could gather. In the end the strongest two (from the same team) prevailed. They were bloodied and wounded but did not give up on trying to get inside. One of them was Zeus #2. I nodded to the others and we headed downstairs, since now that they had no opposition they would soon invade our building.

  "I am sorry guys, for what it's worth..", said Fumiko-chan.
"We will talk about it later", I said, "look after Midori-chan for now. Try to revive her but do not let her sing!".

  "I am an idiot but not a complete idiot Aho-senpai, be careful down there!", she threw me an air kiss.

  Just after reaching the basement we heard the small chain snap and the front door opening. We nodded and agreed to have Akira-kun handle Zeus #2, since he should be immune to his gift. We did not yet know if the other guy was gifted. Either way we could have Hinata-kun drop them both unconscious if need be.

  "Where is she?", Zeus #2 asked when he saw us, "where is the bitch that messed with my head? I need to gut her. I was asleep on my bed four blocks from here and suddenly I found myself here. Do not stop me or I will gut you as well", he was quite angry.

  "She is one of us, so you are not going to gut anyone tough guy. She did not call you on purpose, her power just manifested. It affected us as well", I said. 'War needs to be preceded by diplomacy' after all, as general Sun Tzu (or was it the historian Thucydides?) said.

  He tried smiting me with an electric -so long for diplomacy..- arc but Akira-kun got between us and got the charge himself. He was barely affected. It appeared that those with a certain gift are resistant to attacks using the same gift. But that would mean Zeus #2 should also be immune to Akira-kun's electrokinesis.

  The other guy was gifted after all. He was a telekinetic too. He started throwing small objects to us at high speed. Some we ducked, some were re-directed by me and Haru-kun. We kind of kept Hinata-kun as a last resort, because his power was no fun... er... I mean we needed to be trained in actual combat in order to learn to master our gifts. If Hinata-kun just had every hostile collapse face down on the floor with a mere touch that would not be possible.

  So, we were a pair of telekinetics against a single hostile telekinetic and two eletrokinetics battling it out. The stuff shōnen manga are made of! Hinata-kun was behind us, in a safe distance, to intervene in case we required help.

  There was barely any light but the sparks and arcs of Akira-kun and Zeus #2 gave off more than enough light to see everything clearly.

  "Look", I said, "can't we just talk about this? Just being awoken from your sleep should not be enough reason to want to kill someone. Though it looks like you already killed a few outside".

  "They are not dead baka", the telekinetic said, "we just put them under because they wanted to stop us from killing your little bitch. It's not because she called out to us in our sleep either. It's because her power is very dangerous and can be used against us at any time - and from the looks of it, at any distance.
We do not like being moved around like will-less puppets but that's what your girl did to us. We cannot allow or forgive that, even if she didn't do it on purpose. We have to put her down".

  The telekinetic spoke less angrily and more reasonably than Zeus #2 but his words were no less hostile. He looked like he had already mastered his power to a quite greater extent than Dai-kun. He was better than me and almost as good as Haru-kun. Speaking of Haru-kun..

  "Well, as long as I'm the head of security of this team you are not going to lay a finger on her, either a physical or a telekinetic one", he said, "I get where you are coming from, I do not like being controlled either. But she is one of us, so we will protect her with everything we've got".

  Akira-kun and Zeus #2 looked like they were still evenly matching each other. They did not look like they were particularly injured, but their clothes were partly burned from the electric bolts and charges. They both spent so much energy (literally) fighting each other that they looked like they had a bath in their own sweat, while their electric arcs were steadily losing strength. Soon they were tiny little arcs the size of stun gun charges. Their fight was a draw, just like I expected.

  The telekinetic guy would not give up yet though. It looked like he was trying to draw more juice from his emotions (the 'dark side of the Force is not the way' as the green little guy would say), so he tried getting angry. It worked. For a while. He threw a heavy chair to Haru-kun which he barely ducked but he responded by catching the same chair mid air and throwing it back at him. He did not expect that so it landed straight on him. He barely had time to cross his arms to protect his head and chest.

  The force threw him a couple of meters back and he fell unconscious on the ground. He probably broke a couple of bones and cracked a few ribs too. Zeus #2 rushed to him and tried to revive him, in vain. Eventually Zeus #2 gave up.

  "We will withdraw, for now, but if we ever hear your Siren's calling in our head again we will return with 10 more gifted men to kill all of you unless you deliver her to us, either dead or alive. You may kill her yourselves if you want, we do not mind. But if that bitch ever sings us again into puppets she will not live to see the next morning. Mark my words".

  "We do not respond to threats 'Zeus-san' but you made yourself clear. We do not like being moved around like puppets either. However she did not ask for that power, nature gave it to her. We will help her tame and control her power but we make no promises her singing will not 'leak' again (perhaps in her sleep).
In that case do your worst. Or, simply, come talk to us. The choice is yours, but as I am sure you would never sacrifice one of your own for the others to survive we cannot do that either", I responded.

  Zeus #2 seemed a bit less angry as he was leaving while carrying his comrade on his shoulder. I might have been mistaken, but I think I felt a bit of either admiration or respect emitted from him. Anyway, we lost more than an hour of sleep with that incident, Haru-kun almost had his head cracked like an egg with a heavy chair, Midori-chan probably got a broken nose, and for what? Just to satisfy Fumiko-chan's curiosity.
The little minx is going to get scolded for this, badly this time. It was nice, though, that we did not need to disclose Hinata-kun's power to them. Most likely they thought he was ungifted and remained behind.

  Dear readers from the future, it is time to bring this chapter to a close. We were lucky, very lucky, this time. I doubt we could handle a group of 7 or more gifted individuals, so it was nice that they did us the courtesy to battle each other out and have only the strongest ones that prevailed attack us. If Zeus #2's threat was not a bluff and they indeed had 10+ gifted guys in their group we would need to step up our training and strengthen our defences further.

  Can't we have a normal, boring and uneventful day to get a breather or do I ask for too much and there can be no such thing in this brave but chaotic new world?

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