Chapter 4:


Curiosity Killed The Cat

“Excellent. I’m glad we are both on the same page then.” A smile returned to the principal's face. “Go ahead and relieve Soline from the rest of her classes today to show her the school’s dael research room.”

Kothur swallowed. He really didn’t want to do this. He didn't care about the war or the Rydes. And he's definitely had enough of trading lives for resources. What do I have to do to just live in peace? No, don't think about that right now. He tried to push everything out of his head. He was stuck here whether he liked it or not, that much was clear. His livelihood that his father had traded everything to provide for him was at stake. The sunlight seemed to get stronger. Since Kothur was sitting in front of the window, he instinctively blinked.

When he opened his eyes, he gasped. It was another old memory from his childhood. He was sitting in the living room with his younger brother listening to Reohn’s favorite show, The Sole Ranger.

They were drinking some warm milk, but Reohn was sick and laying on the couch with a blanket. He looked like he was running a fever. That’s right, Kothur thought. Reohn used to get sick often as a kid, and I would bring him a snack and blanket so he could listen to the radio comfortably before bed. Fehram was probably upstairs studying.

No, this is not good. I can’t be here anymore. Where was I before this? I have to get back!

He looked behind him. Before he could fully move his body, the world became black as if he was deep underground. There was no movement. No sound. No air. It scared him to his core.

A strange faint voice called out to him from far away.

“I tghohut you lkeid rniunng aawy?”

Kothur suddenly looked up at the principal. His heart was pounding in his ears. Mr. Dunnock was still smiling at him. That was a good sign that he wasn’t gone too long at least. What was the last thing he said to him again? I have to keep up a good face.

“Oh, of course.” The principal chuckled. “You don’t remember where that is, do you? After all, you haven’t needed to go there very often.”

Kothur was able to respond calmly with a smile. “That’s right. I was trying to remember, but I seem to have forgotten the way.” He put his hand behind his head.

This wasn’t good, Kothur thought as Mr. Donnock explained the way to him. No, that was really dangerous. Stress coursed through his body. What’s happening to me? I might be in real danger here. I can't let them find out anything’s wrong with me or I’ll end up worse than fired.

When the principal was finished, Kothur managed to politely leave the room without issue. Though his hand was shaking as he pulled the door's handle. The large wooden door creaked as it closed. 

He tried to take deep breaths as he walked to his classroom where Yinna was currently teaching for him. His legs still felt unsteady and weak with worry. Luckily, the long walk helped to calm his nerves. For now, he just had to think of the present situation. Everything was still fine and under control; no one thought anything abnormal about him.

Of course not. There's nothing wrong with me in the first place. I'm just a normal guy with a bad eye. I can handle a little stress the same as everyone else. Everything will be alright in the end. He lied to himself, hoping to deceive himself like he did to so many others. He just had to get through the day, and all the days after that till his time came. 

By the time he reached the classroom, his heart was beating like normal again. He figured he was calm enough by now and he hoped his face showed it too. A few knocks on the door got Yinna to answer. He explained the situation to her. She made a strange face before turning to call Soline. He was glad she didn’t ask him any questions.

While he waited, he stared at the nearby posters on the wall. There was some kind of 'Enlist today' poster as well as a bomb drill warning. Thinking about the war made him feel uneasy again so he put his hands in his pockets. He fiddled with the bullet that was always kept there.

Soline arrived at the door with a bored expression. Her light hair was to her shoulders in loose waves with her eyes slightly covered by the bangs. Her tan girl’s uniform was still freshly ironed since it was only her second day. She didn’t even greet him as she held an uncaring posture. Such a manner would probably get me fired, he thought.

“Ah, Soline. Good to see you again. Sorry to call you out right before the end of the day, but this is very important. Follow me, would you?” He smiled at her and gestured down the hall.

Soline immediately had questions for him as they started walking. He guessed anyone would being called out suddenly like this, but it didn't make him feel any better. He really didn’t want to be the one to explain this messed up situation.

“Where are we going?” She asked.

“The dael research room. You were selected to participate in a special project there. It’s kind of a walk to get there, though.” They practically had to leave the teaching division area and pass by the research and training division to get there.


“It’s an old material that was recently discovered to have powerful effects. It was always used in bullets and gasoline, but they think there are additional possibilities we could use it for. That’s why we have these projects.” He explained.

“Oh, I think I’ve heard of these projects before.”

“You have?” Kothur was genuinely surprised.

“Yeah, at my old school we had rumors about these kinds of things that the army was doing.” She put a hand to her neck. “I guess it would make my parents happy that I was doing something important here. The government gives help to the families that help it, right?” Her voice was a bit mumbled with uncertainty.

“That’s right.” They continued a bit more before he spoke up again. “Are you doing alright? Adjusting well to your new school?”

“Yeah, I guess. The students are all weird but friendly. A lot of them have gone through something as well, haven’t they?” She turned her eyes up to him.

He smiled at her. “Yes, they’re nice, aren’t they?” It was probably the most sincere thing he'd said all day.