Chapter 5:

Anti-Martial

Warground Kaleidoscope


In front of a table, with the only source of light coming from above, Anya fidgeted around a bit.

Since she couldn't properly see how many people were in the room, but there was ONE person there.

The one sitting on the opposite side of the table.

A beautiful looking man indeed. Whether it be his long hair or chiselled jaw, he was like a Greek God.

The only thing off-putting was the age of this baby-faced geezer. Who she couldn't judge.

After all, she too looked younger than her age…

Despite being in her twenties, there were some who'd think that she was still in her teens.

This wasn't the first time this duo met…

Indeed, this was just a 'common occurrence' now.

"I thought you got over your bad habit of sympathising with petty criminals and thieves."

"Hmmm…"

"I know I called you here and all, but did you HAVE to make a mess the first day you got here?"

"That was-"

"NOT ANOTHER PEEP!"

"Yessir…!" She wasn't used to his 'teacher mode', it wasn't a thing most Hope students got to see.

After all, their Headmaster was always jovial.

What could possibly set him off?

He had been there since Hope Academy had been built, and had survived even after it had fallen.

When the world needed a 'Hero', Celest Vagabond was there to rescue the people that were in need.

And he did everything with a nonchalant swagger.

He'd say: "Hitting rock bottom means the only way to go now… is up! 'Hope' has not left us yet!"

His words prompting cheers from all; hardening the hearts of those who might have been insecure.

But now, he seemed to have aged differently.

Almost like he had enough with her childishness.

"The world doesn't need your sympathy."

"…It also doesn't need YOUR apathy."

"What did you say?!" He slammed the table, but she knew her words had hit a soft spot in him.

Otherwise, why would 'Slum City' still exist?

"I'm here to honour the deal we made, aren't I?"

"You're still bringing up?"

"And why can't I?"

"It'd be better if you gave up on them."

"YOU were the one who always talked about 'Hope' even when the Academy fell. Even if the world-"

"Stop! Don't mix this with that..."

"Sir… What made you like this?" She grabbed his collar and heard the locking of guns in the shadowy background, but she didn't care. It broke her heart to see the man she once respected act this way.

To see the 'Hero of the People' act this way…

"Stand down." Celest spoke to the shadows, and the dangers surrounding her became more silent.

She also let go of him for the moment…

He adjusted his glasses and rolled back his hair. It was a gesture that would make people just… drool.

Still, it was a beauty she'd never saw in the past.

Back at Hope Academy, he was the unreadable type who'd bounce around and do crazy stunts.

His entire atmosphere was like that phone call he had with her. High, jovial, a little bit crazy, and fun.

The kind of guy you wouldn't notice was hot.

But now, he seemed to have 'matured' a bit.

"Do you still launch people into the air to teach them aerodynamics?" She spoke while he was redoing his hairstyle. He listened, but didn't commit to giving her a nod or shaking his head.

"…They'd die if I suddenly did that."

"That never stopped you before."

"You kids were proper Initiators. A little fall like that wouldn't do much to people with Combat Colours."

"Don't say it like you DIDN'T do it for fun."

"…" He looked away from her.

"Hmmm…" Was he reflecting on himself? She'd never thought that crazy headmaster would reflect.

Was he the same person?

"…I guess I'd better give you an answer before we move on. Don't bring this up with me ever again."

After those cold words, he sighed and spoke:

"My 'Hope' died with my wife at Old Faustus."

These words felt like a bucket of water over her head. She could finally believe his changes now.

"So… what about my bait?"

“Before that: Tell me what you did.”

“You mean… when I went zap zap?”

“Yeah.”

“I electrocuted some students.”

“But how?”

“With my hands~ Duh!”

“Don’t mess with me. I mess with people.”

“Do you~?“

“Hmph! I still do to this very day.”

“Really~?” Her eyes started to brighten.

The guards looked at each other when they started getting along… almost like partners in crime.

Anya ignored their gazes. She was happy to see Celest finally acting like his morally corrupt self.

“But first: Tell me what you did.”

“Tsk!” She clicked her tongue, but decided to be honest: “I was told not to reveal my fighting style.”

“Bullet Kata.”

“W-what?”

“That’s the name of your fighting technique.”

“…And how did you know?“

“Your mentor told me.”

“Haaaah…” She let out a long sigh, but only because it sounded just like that teacher of hers.

To tell her one thing and do something different.

“He also asked if I could make a Martial Arts Academy. So I rejected him and named it this.”

“That’s a… ‘interesting’ origin for the name.”

“Don’t look at me with those eyes. He deserved this middle finger. He didn’t even teach me everything! If he could pass on a Secret Art that could do what you did, why hold it back?”

“He wasn’t holding back.” She realised her former Headmaster must have misunderstood her mentor.

“What Teacher Simon taught us is too hard to replicate. Those ‘Secret Arts’ can’t really do much.”

“I’ll be the decider of that. So tell me honestly.”

“That’s…” Anya felt a bit tongue-tied, but she felt it would be easier if she just told him everything.

Her mentor went back on his words first.

“So… what.did.you.do~?” Celest smiled with dark eyes. A disharmonious expression had arisen.

The little red hood took a deep breath first…

…then she replied without holding anything back:

“I controlled the energy within my body.”

“No, seriously.”

“I AM being serious.”

“A Fire Initiator like you should only be able to control Fire Qi. What you said makes no sense.”

“It does, because the ‘internal energy’ only refers to energy within the body, not Internal Qi created by the user. Theoretically, it should be possible to take in magic and redirect it into another direction.”

“Wicked…!”

“Pardon?” She was taken aback when a flame of a technique enthusiast appeared within his eyes.

“So you’re able to do that with anything?”

“I’d rather not do it for Nether Qi. There’s a chance remnants left behind could cause damage inside.”

“No wonder Simon was always praising you four. I’d underestimated the ‘Hero of the Old’ quite a bit.”

“Now… the bait you promised?”

“Oh, right!” He pulled two pieces of tech from under the table and handed them over to her.

They were two purple USB shaped microchips.

“So this is a Steel Inverter.” She instantly grabbed the one on the right and had a good look at it.

From what she remembered, the ‘Inverter’ was a dying technology due to lacking the right materials.

Without the ore known as ‘Etherium’, you wouldn’t be able to create a vessel that stores any type of Mana. On top of that, the original Inverters created by Vanessa Vagabond were way too sophisticated.

Even with her trying to pass on ‘Magic Circuitry’ onto as many people as she could, the Steel Inverters created could barely radiate a fraction of energy the vessel contained. On top of that, the fact only one Attribute could be used was limiting.

The research was eventually abandoned in favour of creating Mystic Tools and Enchanted Items.

The former was advanced enough to let big weapons like her scythe fold into small boxes, and the latter was like that ‘Sticky Shocker’. Items that could be handled even if the user had no energy.

Similarly… to the ‘Limiter Inverters’.

“Since making Steel Inverter Mystic Tools wasn’t going well, we ended up creating Enchanted Items.” Celest nodded at her realisation. He was deeply aware how out of touch she currently was.

On top of how great she was as an engineer…

Ignorance paired with a great learning capacity regarding technology. It wasn’t a problem.

She could just learn what she didn’t know.

Regardless, since she had already bitten the bait laid out, he decided to tell her why she was here:

“Do you remember what I said about Simon?”

“That you rejected his offer to make an Academy.”

“Exactly! You’d think everything would be hunky-dory if I’d accepted replicated his finest disciples.”

“…You must have had your own reason.”

“Correct…” He was surprised she’d put so much faith in him. Rather than that crazy mentor of hers…

“Was a ‘Martial Arts Academy’ too impractical?”

“Learning them is fine and all. It wasn’t like that idea strayed from the roots of Hope Academy.

As you already know, Initiators of every Attribute had their weaknesses to overcome, but Simon paired certain ‘Kata’ to the standard elemental variants. He called it the ‘Perfect Initiative’.” The play on words seemed like something he’d say.

Anya started to think back to the past…

‘Impact Red’ of the Fire Initiation lacked flexibility and defence. The other Combat Colours were similar. That’s why teamwork was always an asset that had been highly valued in Hope Academy.

It looked like her mentor wanted to see improvement, but the way he went about it was…

“I’m guessing it didn’t work.”

“Much more than that...” Celest chuckled while bringing up a hologram of some training footages.

The average person who could even practice the four ‘Katas’ he recommended were few in number.

Expecting to create an Academy out of these Arts wasn’t worthwhile. Even with the ‘Style of the Seasons’ that were derived from fusing Nature Initiations with the techniques he had passed on.

“You made the right decision.”

“I know I did.”

“Not even going to humour me a little? You know, it isn’t right to disrespect my mentor to my face.”

“Baby~ I’ll get more work out of you than your mentor ever did~!” His words chilled her spine.

She slid back on her chairs a bit, and he continued:

“You owe me for the mess you made.”

“Is that what you’re doing to the current Academy students? That’s why ‘Points’ are now ‘Credits’?”

“Nethersteel is needed to kill Anima, and the students as they are now aren’t capable enough to wield them. You know what happens when a living creature accidentally touches this type of alloy.”

“You let ‘us’ fight with that risk.”

“And you guys did amazing~! But it’s better they do some cleaning inside before cleaning up outside.”

“Aren’t they supposed to be Superior Dragoons?”

“Most of them aren’t experienced in taking on Anima. They only know PowerPoint presentations.”

“Then what will you do?”

“Not me. It’s you~” Celest pointed at her, which caused a confused expression to appear on it.

“Me…?”

“Yeah. You’re gonna babysit along with other veterans I’m calling in to make sure they survive.”

“You don’t think they’d survive by themselves.”

“Heck no! Throwing a cub off a cliff is something only your sister would do. To me, tutors are best.”

“…But I’ve never taught anyone before?”

*Smack!* *Smack!* *Smack!*

He heavily hit her back, then gave a thumbs up. It was his way of saying that ‘No’ wasn’t an option.

“You’ll do just fine. If you do it well, I might tell you where your mentor is currently staying.”

“Can’t you tell me now?”

“He said he doesn’t want to meet any of you, so even telling you his location is a favour from me.”

“What?!” Her eyes widened at him. Once again, it looked like she couldn’t control her emotions.

She was speaking to fast:

“He doesn’t want to see us, his students?!”

“That’s right…” He slapped her hands away before she grabbed his collar again. His palm still hurt.

‘What is she made of?’ Celest was a bit confused inwardly about the muscle density of her body.

Was she really in a weakened state right now?

Did Simon give her some other benefits?

“B-but… we’re still a family!” Her face saddened by the realisation that Celest was completely serious.

“You are.”

“Then… why?”

“It’s that exact reason.”

“H-huh?” She didn’t quite get him. There was a sly smile on his face, as if her words were ‘fun’ to hear.

“You’ll have to ask yourself.” He shrugged with a nonchalant look. Pretending he knew nothing.

“Congratulations on your recruitment, Teacher Anya. Please get along well with the students.”

“…I’ll try.”

They shook hands pleasantly, but she was unaware of the filthy grin hidden behind than formal smile.

School life wouldn’t be so easy…

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