Chapter 15:

The Calm

The Time Capsule - Part 1

  Since Fumiko-chan was my girlfriend I did not want the others to think I was treating her unequally to the others in any way, so I planned to be harsh with her. When we managed to drive out our two uninvited guests I went back to the roof along with Haru-kun; the two others went back to sleep. Going repeatedly up and down five floors without using an elevator should be exhausting, but it appears that mother nature gave us extra strength and stamina along with the other gifts.

  Midori-chan looked like she had just woken up, and she was feeling her nose with her hand. I said to Fumiko-chan, sternly :
"Finish your shift and we will talk about this in the morning". She simply nodded.

  I checked out the time -it was almost 2 a.m.- and asked Midori-chan :
"Do you feel that you can finish your shift or do you want to be replaced for your last two hours?"

  "I'd rather not. I've already caused us a lot of trouble -unwittingly or not- and would not like to mess up our guard schedule too. Do not worry, you do not need to ask. I will not sing, not even a single note, as much as my gift wants me to. I can feel it 'whispering' it to me".

  A rather worrying gift indeed, that could get us all killed. Momentarily I thought if a gag would work on her or if her gift was purely telepathic, then I swiftly kicked the thought out of my mind while picturing a baseball home run. And that was that for tonight.


  The last morning of the last winter month of the last year of the 21st century greeted us with some rather strong sun beams. It was like Spring knew she was the new boss in town and was trying to order Winter to 'get out of my turf or else'. Fumiko-chan was sleeping like a baby beside me; I could discern no worries painted on her face at all. I stood up and closed the shutters to get a couple more hours of shut-eye. It was barely 6:30 a.m. and I still felt a bit tired. No matter what gifts nature gave us it seems that we could not function without sleep.

  I could not sleep though. I remained in my bed for the next hour or so thinking about our prospects and the risks we faced, while playing around with a 100 yen coin. I levitated it, moved it up & down, left & right, and even diagonally in the air. I was getting the hang of this. Finally I 'commanded' it to attack the ceiling at full speed. It did. Almost the entire coin was wedged inside. And it was a 'real' hard ceiling, not a paper & plaster false ceiling. I tried removing it. I couldn't. It was wedged too tight. Eventually I gave up.

  I calculated, based on the hardness of the ceiling and the depth the coin dived in, that if I had done the same to a human forehead the coin would have penetrated their scull, it would have gone straight through their brain and it might have even exited from the back of their scull, killing them instantly. Not a ray of sunshine of a thought, I admit, but I felt I needed to take the safety and security of my team more seriously. Killing should be the last resort, but surviving should always be the top priority.

  I promised Zeus #2 last night that we would help Midori-chan control her gift, but how could she control it without using it? Perhaps our two telepaths can help by looking into her mind to see what makes her tick? They are both girls and are thus immune to her power, so even if they are exposed to her gift at a very deep, cerebral level they should not be affected. Midori-chan's gift could be a very handy defensive weapon or a threat to all of us, depending on whether she mastered it or not. Could it even be targeted against just hostiles while leaving the boys of our team unaffected?

  By now everyone in our team had a gift at a varied state except Yuki-chan. It appears, just like I thought, that she would have to make do with the healing of her congenital anosmia, which was certainly a gift in its own right. She did not even develop more acute senses, but it did not matter to her. She could smell and fully taste stuff for the very first time in her life, so she was truly grateful.

  Wait, I hear you ask, you did not mention anything about Asuga-chan manifesting a gift. You are right, I did not. She is not a telepath, not quite. She cannot project her thoughts or feelings to us, but she can feel, or rather absorb our own feelings. All of them. She says she feels everything we feel, down to the tiniest little thing. That gets her emotionally overwhelmed, and she gets confused.

  She is unable to distinguish her own feelings from our own, and is still unable to shut out our feelings, which "pour into her like a flood". Even in her sleep some of our darkest feelings and fears leak into her and give her nightmares. I think she has it quite hard. Another one requiring urgent training from our telepaths.

  Finally, just before getting off bed, I was trying to think of a way to make an example of Fumiko-chan. She almost got us all killed just to satisfy her curiosity. If I was soft on her everyone would think it was because she was my girlfriend, so my command authority would be eroded. The others would stop trusting me. So, after sleeping on it, and in order to be more impartial, I decided to leave the matter of her punishment to the rest of the team. Save for exiling her or... executing her I would agree to everything they decided. I had to.

  By 8:30 a.m. everyone was up on their feet. Everyone but Asuga-chan. She probably had nightmares that night due to our stray feelings leaking into her mind so we decided to let her sleep until at least 10 a.m. We had our usual poor semi-stale breakfast and it was now finally time to deal with the punishment of Fumiko-chan. We all went to the roof so that our current guards participated in the discussion. I had her explain to the others what happened last night, in detail, and no-one blamed Midori-chan.

  "I thought about it and since there is a conflict of interest between us I decided to let the team decide how to punish you. I think that's only fair after the stunt you pulled last night", she tried speaking but I blocked her with a raised palm; she was left with an open mouth, then frowned and whimpered like a puppy.

  "It is not your turn to speak Fumiko-chan, it is the turn of the others", I looked at the faces of the others. So long as you do not decide to exile or execute her I will abide by your decision. So, let's hear you all. Speak your minds freely".

  Haru-kun raised his hand. I felt like the sensei of a high school classroom and wanted to say that there was no need for hand raising, but I just nodded to him in order to speak. It's best if we are done with this fast. It was already past 9 and Akira-kun's shift (along with Midori-chan) would end in less than an hour, and then he would need to start working on the greenhouse with Hinata-kun right away; brutal, I know.

  "Look", he started, "quite clearly Fumiko-senpai screwed up. Security and safety wise that was a complete clusterfrack. We could have been overwhelmed by five times more guys, and then most likely we would have all been taken out, one by one. Either to abduct our 'Siren' here", he nodded toward Midori-chan, "who would then either have her sing 24/7 or worship the living bejesus out of her, or in order to kill her like the other half of them wanted.

Thank God Fumiko-senpai managed to stop her singing and we had two groups with competing interests about her. Otherwise we would not have been alive to talk about it right now", he stopped to think for a bit.
"As for her punishment I would like to hear what the others have to say first and then speak my mind."

  Yuki-chan spoke next. "I know what Fumiko-senpai did was awful but there was no way she could have known that Midori-chan's gift was telepathic and that it would call most men and boys, no matter the distance. And yet she is not technically a telepath, right?"

  "She does not feel like one to me", Saiko-chan said. "Your girlfriend fracked up royally. Perhaps it would have been best to look into her mind in order to examine her gift from the inside, since she already told her about her men-calling dreams. And yet she didn't. Why?", she asked Fumiko-chan.

  "I am not as strong as you yet", she replied. "I tried peeking into her mind but I did not hear any singing at all. It was probably deeper than I could reach. Can you hear it?"

  Saiko-chan focused and tried looking into Midori-chan's head. Nothing. Then she said, "May I?", and she placed her palm on Midori-chan's forehead.
"Aha! There it is! Wow, that is quite a voice! The lyrics are not even in Japanese, I cannot recognize them. It is indeed buried very deep!"

  'Not Japanese?' I thought, and tried to remember the sweet voice from last night. It was not German, so she was not a Lorelei. I think.. no, I am quite certain that it was Greek, more specifically ancient Greek. In the university I took an optional ancient Greek course because I wanted to try reading the Odyssey and the Iliad in the original, in order to retrieve their 'poetry that was lost in translation', per the poet's Robert Frost's saying (I half-succeeded).

  What the heck? Was nature sending us a message by paying homage to ancient Greek mythology and literally manifesting a Siren out of Midori-chan? That was a bit too much. Did nature have humor? What next, will one of us take the mantle of Odysseus or something? But humor assumes intellect, not mere blind instinct and self-regulation.

  This was perhaps the greatest revelation so far. If nature has intellect and thus the pollen is 'smart' (and/or pre-programmed by nature) does it mean that it might be possible to communicate with nature, perhaps via the pollen inside us? Questions for later, let's go back to the issue of Fumiko-chan for now.

  "Anyway", Yuki-chan continued, "a screw-up is still a screw-up. I suggest she assumes double cleaning duties for one week. Either assume a bit from all of us or those of Akira-senpai and Hinata-senpai, who are busy with working on their greenhouse and could use the time".

  "Two weeks", Midori-chan said, "the second week due to my half-broken nose."

  Fumiko-chan looked at her with a rather surprised expression. I think she was the last person she expected to ask for harsher punishment and yet she did. She tried pulling rank on her.

  "Who do you think you are and talk to your senpai like that? Last night you were all 'senpai this' 'senpai that' and now you found your balls and picked them from the ground?"

  "Fumiko-chan my love", I said. She looked at me probably thinking I would support the softer punishment. She was mistaken. "If you keep on bullying your victim I will suggest we punish you with three weeks of double cleaning duty. What say you dear?", I smiled in a way that said 'Cut it out or else'.

  Fumiko-chan said nothing. She drooped her head, whimpered a bit and said to me
"Et tu, Brute?".

  I almost said 'Especially me' at that moment but I restrained myself. I mean, she was smart enough to understand why I was being hard on her. I think she fully understood and was just playing games hoping she would get a lighter 'sentence'. It did not work.

  "All right, does everyone agree to the two weeks of double cleaning duty punishment? I suggest she assumes just the duties of Akira-kun and Hinata-kun since they will indeed be very busy with their greenhouse in the following weeks. We need to get it up and running ASAP, before all the remaining food runs out!", I asked the team.

  They all nodded and that was that. I think they also wanted to get done with this quickly.

  "One more thing", I said, "We need to discuss training. I and Haru-kun can handle your physical and martial arts training. We also help each other keep our martial arts polished and master our telekinesis. Fumiko-chan and Saiko-chan can train each other in their telepathy, help Asuga-chan control her 'empathy' gift to give her fewer nightmares -and perhaps give her an idea about how to utilize it- and hopefully also help Midori-chan master her own gift.

Akira-kun and Hinata-kun are our outliers. I volunteer to have Akira-kun test his electrokinetic gift on me and need one other volunteer to help Hinata-kun test his 'Spock-like' touch on. As far as I know you would not feel any pain at all, you'd just sleep".

  There were a few moments of eerie silence. No-one knew exactly how Hinata-kun's gift worked and what might happen when it got stronger. Eventually Yuki-chan volunteered, under the protest of Akira-kun, which she kindly disregarded.

  "Train on me Hinata-senpai. I want to be more useful to the team. I have no special gifts as you all know, nor am I a martial arts prodigy. So, if I can be of use to the team I would be happy to help. Just... be gentle, OK? It's not going to hurt, right? I am afraid of pain you see".

  "As far as I know it will not hurt at all Yuki-chan. I tried testing my gift on myself and it did not work. I think I am immune to it. What it does is put you under. That's it. No more, no less than that. I would like to test how much I need to focus so that I put someone under for just a few minutes instead of an hour or so. That way, in case of a battle with multiple hostiles I should be able to use it on more people before being drained", Hinata-kun explained.

  "I understand Hinata-senpai. I place my trust in you", she said.
"So do I", said Akira-kun looking at him sternly, "do not hurt her, you hear me?"

  Aaaahh.. these over-protective males. Is it an evolutionary thing stemming from the hunter – gatherer days of our species or a result of insecurities? I get them, I am kind of over-protective of my Fumiko as well.

  And so, our dear ancestors from the future, it is time for the chapter 'The Calm' of my account to draw to a close. As you must have guessed already from the title, the next chapter is going to have 'Storm' in its title. What kind of 'storm'? I will only disclose this: not the meteorological kind. The first part of this multi-volume account of mine is also about to end. I decided to split my account into multiple volumes (or parts) so that I do not bore you with a very large monolithic book. I will place them in the time capsule separately.

  What, you thought this was going to be a somewhat short account between 80 and 100 pages? Well, not quite. It is just our fourth day in this post-apocalyptic world and I estimate that I spent more than 40,000 words just to cover these first few days of ours. As of now, while I am writing this, it is our 16th day. Quite a few events occurred the previous 12 days.

  Some exciting and some scary; some predictable, some startling, and some utterly horrifying. We also had a team member die on us, unfortunately, but I will not disclose who died right now. Be patient until I reach that point. That might happen in the second volume; or at the very end of the first one. We shall see.

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