Chapter 4:

Settling In

Spirit Containment Team 1201


Wow, okay, I wrote most of this while I was in a car, on a 23 hour trip, after I failed to get any sleep the night before. Welcome to: Fatigued Ideas! I also did a significant portion of this on my phone... I hope you enjoy it, nonetheless!

Allicity looked over the status pages of each of the girls quietly standing in front of her desk. Her fingers darted back and forth over the keyboard, a soft clicking sound permeating the otherwise silent room.

"Hmm... Furushima Hibiki." She called.

"Y-Yes ma'am!" Hibiki cried.

"Born and raised in... Yokohama... your parents are both Ungifted... you're an only child... you found out you were Gifted less than six months ago, upon which time you began communing with various Deities... eventually you agreed to a Contract with Cronos, the Titan of Time." Allicity said. "That sound correct?" She asked.

"Yes."

"Good... Colette Villiger." She said, focusing on the red haired girl.

"Ma'am." She replied, giving a quick salute.

"Born in Switzerland, in a remote home near the base of Niederhorn. You were raised by a single mother, who convinced you to test and see if you were Gifted... after you tested positive, you remained in Switzerland until you made a Contract with the Constellation Deity Aries last year. You're a single child, and your Mother is Ungifted. Did I miss anything?" She asked.

"That's everything." Colette answered.

"Valeria Astakhov."

"Yes ma'am."

"Born in Kirishi, Russia, to a large family of established Spirit Hunters, where you were tested, as all of your family are, at the age of thirteen. After being confirmed as Gifted, you convened with a number of Deities until you decided on the Forge Fire Goddess, Hephaestus. You are the second youngest of eight children, six girls and two boys. Anything incorrect?"

"No, that's it."

"Xeria Tsaplin... Born in Nice to Russian native parents, you were raised by one of your Father's servants until you were two years old, at which time you returned to your parents native home, where your Mother raised you until you were tested at the age of twelve... a short time later, you were approached by the American Chickasaw Goddess of Creation and Fire... Aba Banili... or Ababanili. You were an only child until last year, when your younger twin sisters were born. Oh... and you're also an Exception. True?"

Xeria nodded.

"Aaaaand, finally... Drake Greymoor... the second child of the respected Greymoor family, you lived on the East Coast of the United States until you were eight years old, when your parents moved to Kitashiobara. You, unlike other children, were tested when you were five, and shortly after, took Pandora as your Contract Deity... when Pandora granted you the entirety of her essence, you were immediately hailed as the first American-born Exception in fifty years." She began.

Drake nodded, gesturing for her to continue.

"But... everyone soon realized that you weren't just an Exception... three years later, Gaia made contact with you, having severed ALL of her Contracts, just to ask you to be her partner... you, being a child, agreed, not knowing that even Exceptions would die if exposed to the full power of TWO Deities... but you didn't... you were in fact, just fine. A few years after, you made a third Contract with Khione... then after you arrived, you made your fourth with Gullveig." She said.

"And now the last bit... last year... the Ivoria Branch of Japan received word of an Aevator-Class Demon, the third one ever recorded, being detected in Tokyo... most of the S-Rank teams were out on long term missions, and I, against my better judgment, let you go out on your own and fight it. You did succeed... you even did the unprecedented and formed a Contract with the Demon. You've been attending Ivoria for the entirety of your time since then... right?" She asked.

"Nice to know you care." He laughed. "But yeah... that's everything."

"Good... now... let me see here... ah! You're numerical designation is Team 1201. Hmm... I'll give you and your girls the choice of familial designation, as always... the designation is more directly related to the instructor, so I hope you girls... here are your options: Demon Lord... which makes sense... since some consider Drake to be a Demon." She said.

"Normally I'd comment about that... but I'll let it slide... my team got three choices... I'm assuming the same applies here as well." Drake said.

"Pathfinder is the second choice." She said.

"Oh? Why's that?" He asked.

"You know... you made a Contract with a Demon... that's a pretty big deal, especially with the higher ups... you have no idea how many Hunting Firms sent correspondence to us trying to recruit you... YOU, at fifteen years old... it was madness if I'm being honest with you... it reminded me of just how small I am... anyway... it's Pathfinder because you opened "paths" for others with your unique achievements." She explained.

"And... the last one?" He pressed.

"Iron Union... you know... cause of your Contracts." She said.

"What do any of his contracts have to do with Iron?" Colette asked.

"Gaia is the Mother of the Earth, which bears iron, Khione uses a set of iron armor, Pandora's Box is made of iron, and iron is what forms the tip of Gullveig's spear." Drake explained.

"Ah, I see... I'm... rather fond of that title." Colette said.

"I think it's the best of the three." Xeria added.

"I don't mind any of them... although the one about you being a Demon Lord is a little disconcerting." Hibiki said.

"Valeria? Any specific preference?" He asked.

"Nope!" Was her curt reply.

"Alright... your team will be known as the Iron Union... now... for the matter of lodgings... Valeria, Xeria and Hibiki will be in Dorm 15 on the second floor of Dorm Building 2. Drake... since you lived together with Kayla, and she's leaving with her brother and sister... I'm assigning Ms. Villiger as your dorm partner." Allicity explained.

"Colette... are you alright with that?" He asked.

"Um... I suppose... is this kind of arrangement common?" She asked.

"More or less, there is no consideration towards gender or age in our dorm layouts... I think you got lucky getting Drake as a dorm partner, he doesn't like to cause problems." Allicity stated happily. "Speaking of you, Drake... since you didn't actually apply for an instructor position, you're a little behind on the paperwork that you need to fill out... it'll probably take you a week or so to do so... but I don't think it'll cause you or your girls any problems." She said.

She tossed him a thick book, which he quickly flipped through, before nodding to Colette.

"We should go, the faster I read through this, the faster we can start with training. As for you, girls, there's a personal computer in the form of a tablet for each of you in your room. Your homework for the night is to learn how to use the system to send me a message... as boring as that sounds, the system is a little more complex than any of you are likely used to. Once you've done that... tomorrow will likely be used for the Elections." He said.

"Elections? Like a Student Council?" Hibiki asked.

"Sort of... the Second through Fifth Years get to elect a representative from amongst their numbers on the second day of the school year, while the First Year representative is selected by random chance." Allicity sang.

"Have you ever been a Representative, Instructor?" Valeria asked.

"No, I told my fellow classmates that if they voted for me I'd fight them... the message got across." He said.

"Drake, if you'd like to take Colette back to your dorm, I'll call Ari and have her bring the others to theirs." Allicity offered.

"Alright, remember the task I gave you, you three. That system is essential for our cohesion as a unit, especially considering that we'll be living in different areas." Drake said.

With remarks of agreement from his other students, Drake ushered Colette from the room, his hand pressed against the small of her back as he led her through the building.

"So, I guess this is your first time away from home?" He asked.

"Yes... I was a little... well... disconcerted when the Agent brought me here... I was unused to teleportation to say the least." She giggled.

"Well... I'll tell you the same thing that I plan on telling everyone else: I'm here... I understand that Ivoria may be an intimidating place, so if you need anything, any kind of help, any information, you can ask me... I'm not great with other people, and I've always felt better alone... but... if I'm going to be a teacher... I'll have to get used to you four as soon as I can." He explained.

They walked in silence for a little while, reaching the first floor before Colette spoke.

"Do you... dislike us? In a more general sense... obviously we don't know each other at all... but... do you hold some sort of disdain for us?" She asked.

"Dislike... heh... were that I capable of disliking others... I think you may be mistaking my apathy for hatred or something of the sort. When I made contracts with the other Goddesses... I had to empty myself of certain aspects of my being to make room for them... my emotions went first. I don't feel anything in particular towards you girls... but only because I can't. However... girls... get out here." He said.

As they reached the entrance, the four familiar figures phased back into being behind him, prompting him to turn and grin to Colette.

"But... when they come out to play, I get my emotions back... it's a bit of a proverbial roller-coaster, but these girls are my family, and if giving up a little bit of me is what is required of me to keep my family together... then I'd do it in a heartbeat." He said.

With that, the girls disappeared, and his happy face once again fell sullen, or in his case, apathetic.

They walked the grounds for a few moments, before Drake pointed to a building across the way with a sign hanging across its front.

COMMISSARY

"That's the general goods store, anything that you need for basic living can be found there, if they don't have it, you can order it, and it'll be here in less than a week, although they'll charge you for it." He said.

"But... I didn't bring any money." Colette said, her voice wavering as she realized her potential mistake.

Drake laughed, rubbing his face in an attempt to hide his glee.

"You don't need to, hon. Each student gets around 100,000 credits allocated to them by the board each year for most amenities." He explained.

She searched his face for any evidence of jest. Finding none, she sighed, shaking her fear from her mind.

"That's a lot of money for one person... is it really alright to use it all?" She pressed.

"Yep! Some people even hit the 150k mark and get away with it... most of them are A and S-Rank though... the board wouldn't allow any old D-Rank student to use those kind of funds... but hey... they're just trying to survive as best as they can, I guess." He remarked.

As he noticed a group of students crowding the path in front of them, he steered her to a side path obscured by a plethora of bushes that seemed rather out of season.

"Roses... but it's January, right? Don't they bloom in the early Spring?" She asked.

"Yeah... but we aren't exactly on Earth anymore... why do you think the Agent that was sent for you had to teleport you here... we're in a Dimension Bubble created by a God. The concept of seasons here is just that... a concept, the God who created the bubble, Aeeir, simply made the temperature match that of the area the bubble is placed on top of... in this case, Tokyo." He explained.

"So... we aren't in the same dimension anymore... I suppose that makes sense... how do we get out?" She asked.

"Well... you COULD walk past the limit of the bubble, you'd end up in Tokyo, but you wouldn't be able to get back without teleporting." He explained.

"I suppose that makes sense, especially if the bubble is an entire dimension on its own... why would we need that much space?" She asked.

"Training, mostly. With upwards of 5000 students, the demand for space usable for training is incredibly high. Thus, they use Aeeir's ability to make more condensed dimension for individual team's training." He said.

"Ah! I understand better now! Although, something you said just registered with me. You said the Ivoria Board was just trying to survive, what did you mean?" She questioned.

"How many of the Board members do you think are Gifted?" He asked.

When she didn't answer, he did so.

"None of them, Ivoria's Board of Directors is entirely made up of Ungifted Humans. Of course they want to ensure that their best opportunity for survival is happy... who wants to save someone that they hate?" He asked.

"I suppose that is a sensible outcome... although I'm not sure that you could ensure fair treatment of Spirit Hunters without them making up some part of the board." She said.

"Well, it's like I said. They need us far more than we need them, so they'll do anything they need to to make sure they can retain our services." He said.

A large dorm to the southeast of the class building came into view after about 10 minutes of nonstop talking.

"There it is... it's a nice dorm... then again, there's nothing wrong with the other buildings either... but I think you'll get used to living here quickly." He said.

"So its just the two of us, then?" She asked.

Drake seemed ignorant of the bright red coloration of his student's face, nodding his head and gesturing to a third floor window.

"That's your new home... Floor 3 Room 5. We should go see the Dorm Mother first, she'll be the one to talk to if there's anything about the room you want changed." He said.

They entered the large, warm building, where a rather barren first floor greeted them. A small desk sat near a staircase, occupied by a wiry, gray-haired woman. She smiled, her older face adopting a rather motherly charm as she focused on Drake.

"Mister Greymoor... good to see you again... and I suppose this is your new Dorm Partner... what a lovely looking girl." The old woman laughed.

"Hello... my name is Colette... Colette Villiger... pleased to meet you." Colette said, bowing slightly to the woman.

"Well Colette, my name is Asha... and I serve as the Dorm Mother here for Building 4. My job is essentially to ensure that our up-and-coming Spirit Hunters are as comfortable as possible while they live and learn here at Ivoria." The woman.

"Would you give her Kayla's old key? I know it's procedure to give new Dorm Members new keys... but Kayla's is already broken in, so do you think you could do me this little favor?" Drake asked.

"Well... lucky you I didn't trash it yet... fine, I suppose I can look the other way on this... just don't make a big deal out of it." She said.

She opened a small drawer on her desk and pulled out a worn, off-yellow key. Drake took it and handed it to Colette, who slipped it into her skirt pocket.

"If you need anything, just ask me dear." Asha said.

Colette thanked her, before following Drake up a flight of stairs down a hallway behind the desk. As they made their way up, he asked her about her life in Switzerland.

"How was it? Well... I don't really have much to compare it too... but I liked it... my Mom and I are really close... so we always enjoyed the peace and quiet with her. I only went out into a city a few times... I guess I'm okay when it comes to talking to people." She said. "What about you?" She asked.

"Well... I grew up with my parents being gone a lot of the time. I mean, my family's still close knit. I spent a lot of time with a childhood friend of mine, and she and her family moved over here with us back then, she still lives there..." He said. "Oh, but I guess you're wondering about how I ended up this way. Well... sorry to disappoint... but I don't know." He laughed.

He turned to face a door near the end of the third floor, and slid his own key into the lock.

"This is it... there are two beds, hope you weren't too excited about the idea of sleeping in the same bed as me." He snickered.

She blushed, but didn't respond, walking into the room to see her new living space.

The room in and of itself was rather simple. Two beds, each with a desk and a night table on either side, with lamps atop them, as well as a silken, black privacy curtain to allow the inhabitant of the dorms to change in peace.

She moved through the small room to what was obviously going to be her bed. With black sheets that also looked to be made of silk, and a large, thick fleece blanket, the bed seemed comfortable, maybe even too much so. She felt as though laying on a bed like that might make it difficult to get up after sleeping.

Drake didn't seem to agree, slipping his shoes off and throwing himself onto his own bed. He slipped his pillow from its place against the wall and revealed a large tablet.

"Is that the device you told the others about?" She asked.

"Yeah, the RSRS. It's a bit of an unwieldy beast, but it'll save lots of time if you know how to use it correctly. By the way, if you want to get a bit more comfortable, there's a set of silk night clothes. There feel really light on your skin, but are also quite warm. You can use the privacy curtain, unless you're into me ogling you." Drake laughed.

She pulled the curtain around her bed, it's black coloration blocking the light from her table lamp. As she pulled free of her clothes, she could hear Drake command his Spirits to leave his body.

"You too, Cthulhu, I'd like my lust back for a bit." Drake said.

"Of course."

The deep voiced response garnered Colette's full attention, her head darting to the side to better hear the voice.

"That's... Cthulhu?" She asked.

"Indeed it is, My Lady. I am a Aevator Class Demon, whose original name was Nathayn. I serve under Master Drake as... well... it's the best option to ensure my survival." The voice replied. "Speaking of survival, weren't you thinking of doing a physical check on your students?" The voice asked.

Drake was silent for a moment, then grunted in affirmation.

"Colette! Are you naked?" He asked.

She felt her body tense up at his words.

"N-No... do... do you need me to be? I still have my undergarments on." She said.

"That'll do... come out from the curtain, I need to get a look at you." He said.

She shivered, feeling a little bare in the room. Despite her apprehension, she did as commanded. The curtain slid open, revealing Colette thin frame, her pale skin covered only by an almost equally white bra and panties.

Drake stood before her, looking over her body with reserved interest.

Wait... that's not Drake.

The black-haired young man was a carbon copy of her Instructor at first glance. But his pale skin and red eyes quickly revealed the truth of his inhumanity. His head dipped as he looked at her, turning to his master, who was sitting on his bed.

"She's cute." Was the Demon's simple statement.

"Indeed, but keep your hands off of her... come here, Colette." He said.

She did as he said, moving across the room, passing his Goddesses, and coming to a stop next to his bed.

"Arms out... and tense your muscles." He commanded.

He ran his fingers down her arms, pressing against the inside of her elbow, and squeezing the joints of her fingers.

"Your arms are like mine, thin, but almost completely covered in muscles. That's helpful." He said. "Tighten your abs." He continued.

His fingers danced along the flesh of her stomach, their light brushing tickling the skin, and making it very difficult for her to keep a straight face. She devolved into a giggling mess, twisting under his touch unconsciously.

"Hold still, then tighten your abs again." He said.

The moment she complied, he punched her exposed stomach with enough force to make her reel.

He hits HARD.

As her body tilted to the side, he reached over to prevent her from falling. He smiled at the sour look on her face.

"Sorry... just wanted to see how well your body responded to attack without warning. Gaia, come here." He said.

The Goddess quickly moved to Colette's side eyeing the spot where he had hit, a purple mark designating the impact point visible on her skin. Pressing her fingers against the wound, a soft, green glow soon bloomed from her fingertips, spreading a wondrous warmth through Colette's core.

As Gaia pulled away, Colette could see that the bruise had faded, and noticed a distinct lack of pain.

"Wow... both her and Khione can heal like that?" She asked.

"Actually, they can heal at an even greater intensity, they just hold back to keep from overwhelming you." He grinned. "But yeah, they are pretty damn great. Now turn around, I need to look at your thighs."

She spun around, still quite embarrassed at her predicament. Drake wrapped his hand around her thigh and demanded that she tighten her legs.

"Wow... you're built pretty well, if you had actually manage to land your kick on me this morning, it would have knocked me senseless!" He laughed. "Okay, you can finish getting dressed." He said.

Blushing, Colette returned to her bed, where she slipped the silk pajamas on, before turning to her Instructor.

"What was that about?" She asked.

"Oh, just getting a feel for how I can best utilize your abilities. By taking a quick look at your body and the way your muscles have formed, I can use the week I would normally use to read the Handbook to find out how best to train you girls." He explained.

"Oh! I see... but... are you going to actually read the Handbook?" She asked.

"No... Yui didn't read it... and if I try to be a bit more flexible in my training with you like she was with us... I think you might fare better." He said.

Colette looked at him for a moment, wondering if his decision was wise. She remembered his words about not being very confident with others, and realized that his lax way of dealing with things was also intended to help him become accustomed to her and the others.

Was he... just being nice to her to save face?

She turned to him, and noticed that while his eyes were focused TOWARDS her, they weren't ON her, more so towards the wall just next to her. She blushed at her realization. It was a cuter side to the fighter that she had caught a glimpse of this morning.

She moved her own pillow from the wall, finding a tablet of her own. She fumbled with it, trying to find a way to pull it out of the wall.

"There's a small tag on the bottom of the frame, if you pull it, the tablet should pop out. Take some time to get used to the system, of course, if you need any help with it... just say something." He said.

They spent the rest of the afternoon in silence, Colette's head swimming with mixed feelings about her instructor. The difficulty of the operating system of the tablet didn't help either.

Eventually, however, her stomach growled hungrily, and Drake ordered a rather large bounty of food for the two of them.

After the sun had set, Drake yawned, informing Colette of his intention to get some sleep. She wanted to sleep as well, but found herself lacking any sort of fatigue.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

"Well... I've been up since early morning, and it's getting close to 10:30... but... I'm not tired." She said.

He looked at her for a moment, then his eyes widened.

"Oh... I get it... Gaia's healing is what's keeping you awake... I can... deal with it, if you like." He said.

"You can... make me sleepy?" She asked.

"Pandora and I can... Pandora?" He said.

The Goddess, who had returned to her host, didn't respond, but his normally amber eyes adopted a bright red coloration. He stood, moving over to her bed.

"Don't sit up, this'll knock you out before you have a chance to react... I'd get Pandora to do it alone... but, well... you'd be asleep until next week." He said.

Cthulhu, who hadn't returned to Drake, looked up from the book he had been reading.

"You sure you don't want me back with you? You might get embarrassed?" He said.

Drake spun on his heel, glowering at the smirking Demon.

"Shut up... I just need to... shut up!" Colette found his outburst quite cute, but remained silent.

He turned back to her.

"Just... hold still, okay?" He said.

He leaned down to her, placing his hand atop her head and whispering.

"Pandora, bring the boon of rest to the weary."

He pushed forward and pressed his lips to her forehead, and her body went limp. Pulling away, the red color on his face was a stark contrast to the stoic look on his face.

"I'll never get used to that... my heart is pounding... Cthulhu, come back... we're going to bed." He sighed.

He picked his tablet up from the bed, then checked his notifications.

4 Messages... 4?

Message 1: Furushima Hibiki

Hello, Instructor, it took me a while to figure out how the system works, like you said it would. Anyway, I think I've more or less figured it out. Thank you for selecting me as your student, I know that with you heading my instruction here at Ivoria, I'll have no problems becoming the best Spirit Hunter that I can. Also... I don't know how to tell you this... but I'm an Exception.

Goodnight, Hibiki.

Message 2: Xeria Tsaplin

This system is within the scope of my understanding. I believe however, that you were right to inform the others of its difficulty. I will serve under you, as I believe that you may hold the key to me being as strong as possible.

Message 3: Valeria Astakhov

Good evening, Instructor Greymoor. Per your assignment, I think I've figure this out. I can see what you mean about the tablets saving us a lot of time. Thank you for believing in my potential, I want to be an amazing Spirit Hunter so that I can help protect my siblings. I should also say... I'm an Exception.

Regards, Valeria Astakhov

Message 4: Colette Villiger

I'm an Exception... I thought I should get that out of the way at the start... I didn't tell the school because I didn't know how they'd react... I just want to get better with my Contract... I have an end goal in mind, and I'm sure that you will be able to help me reach that goal. Thank you.

Yours, Colette.

He smiled, slipping the tablet back into its place on the wall, and let himself fall back onto the pillow.

"I knew that, girls... why the hell would I pick students who WEREN'T Exceptions?" He chuckled.

He slid one of the silk blankets over himself, turned off the light, then fell asleep.


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