Spirit Containment Team 1201
Colette stood patiently at the entrance to the main school building, awaiting both her teammates and her teacher.
The former arrived first, Hibiki, Valeria, and Xeria chatting quietly as they approached, then waving to her as they noticed her waiting.
"Good morning, all. Have you seen the Instructor?" Colette asked.
"No. We were just coming to see the extracurricular clubs that they have available. Perhaps he's in one of them?" Xeria said.
"He is... you must be his new team." Came a familiar voice from behind them.
Lillian was waiting patiently on the concrete path, smiling as she waited for the four girls in front of her to move so she could enter.
"Oh! Princess!" Colette squeaked.
Lillian gave a short bow, smiling to Colette as she did.
"I see that you're doing well after that little dream of yours." She said.
"How... how do you know about it?" Colette asked.
"Oh, well that's simple. For you, it was a normal dream. For others, like Drake and myself, who were large parts of the dream, it was more of a memory. In order to ensure that the memory hasn't degraded to the point where it doesn't make any sense, Pandora takes little slivers from multiple people. We can usually tell when she's rooting around in our minds, because we have to relive the memory." She explained.
"So, I was watching from an outside perspective, while you and Drake actually experienced it like it was happening again?" Colette asked.
"Correct! Pandora has a plethora of really useful abilities, sharing memories is just the tip of the iceberg, so to say."
"What are you two talking about?" Xeria asked.
"Oh, just a little something you three will likely undergo soon." Lillian giggled. "I'll take you to Drake, he should be in our club practice room."
She stepped between them, leading them through the door and down the left hallway. There was a marked change in the layout of the school that confounded the four of them.
"Looks a little different, right?" Lillian asked. "This is its normal layout. During the Trials, the Deities that help produce the dimension change it around to help suit our needs. The building itself functions as more of a giant clubhouse when there isn't much going on." She explained, nodding to the doors that they were passing.
"Energy Defense, Mastery of Magic, Willpower Structuring? These aren't your standard clubs, it would seem." Hibiki said.
"Right, each club is more for assisting each student in areas they may feel like they're falling behind in. Well, most of them are, anyway."
The reached the final door on the first floor, which Lillian opened and stepped inside.
"Sword Arts?" Valeria said.
"She said this was the Instructor's club, I suppose that we should go in." Hibiki said.
They nodded to one another, the stepped across the threshold.
The room had a more traditional look to it than that of the rest of the school. Where the "tradition" of the room had originated seemed to vary.
A number of paintings and murals adorning one wall seemed medieval in natural, while others looked to be Japanese in origin.
Drake was in the center of the room, knelt in front of a group of about sixteen other students.
He looked at his team for a moment, then back to the others before him.
"Alright... everyone feeling calm?" He asked.
"Yes Captain!" Came their unanimous answer.
"Good, we'll begin our normal exercises shortly. For now, I'll be having a word with my team." He said, nodding towards the girls.
The majority of the group of students turned around to look at them. A few of them nodded, while some of them offered smiles.
"Did you bring them here, Lil?" He asked.
"Yes, they seemed to be looking for you." She answered.
He looked over them for a second, a rather confused look on his face. After a moment, his eyes lit up in understanding.
"None of you checked your messages this morning... did you?" He asked.
They looked at each other, then back to him.
"I... I didn't even think to." Colette admitted.
"And the rest of you?" He asked.
The others shook their heads.
"Yeah... I didn't think so... heh... its fine. We're not doing much today anyway." He shrugged.
"How long have you been the Captain of this club?" Xeria asked.
"Oh, you know... about an hour." He said. "That's right... speaking of Captains... Lil... I'm promoting you to Vice-Captain." He sighed.
"So what is this club for?" Colette asked.
"Well... it's here to to help those whose Deities use weapons to learn how to use them. It's called Sword Arts because the Ivoria Board wouldn't allow it to be called Weapon Arts for some reason." He said.
"I feel like a larger amount of students would be Contracted with Deities that use weapons." Valeria noted.
"Well... you aren't wrong, but an enormous portion of our members quit when they I became Vice-Captain last year." He explained.
"It doesn't help that Drake is considered to be kind of scary, which deters potential newbies from joining." Lillian said.
"That too." He said.
Valeria grew curious enough to search around the room, her eyes moving from mural to painting, then onward as she drank in the sights. Her eyes eventually fell on a sheathed blade atop a table at the back of the room.
"What's this?" She asked.
Her hands reached out to touch it, garnering a choked scream from one of the students behind her.
"Don't touch that, Astakhov!" Drake shouted.
The two noises startled her, tripping her up and sending her straight to the floor.
He moved himself over to her, offering her his hand. She gave an embarrassment smile, but accepted his assistance.
"That's the centerpiece of this dimension... when you crossed the threshold into this room, you entered a new dimension that Pandora created in place of the room that would typically be here. The centerpiece is where the dimension originates from. If you mess with it, the dimension disappears, and we fall all the way down to Tokyo." He explained.
"Oh... sorry." She said, cringing slightly as her imagination did the rest of the explaining.
"It's fine... just be careful." He said, turning back to his club. "Change of plans. We'll call it for today, since most of you know what you need to work on." He said.
They stood at his words, hands at their sides. They turned to Lillian, giving her a bow, then did the same with Drake.
"Hollllld on~" Came a somewhat familiar singsong voice from outside the room.
The face that said voice belonged to was anything but familiar to the girls, although they were rather certain of who she might be related to.
The girl who walked through had soft, curly, bluish white hair that bobbed with each step she took.
Drake gave her a smile as he cleared his throat, gesturing towards her.
"Girls... this is Ashelyn Lachlan, Allicity's daughter. A-Rank, Third Year." He said.
She gave a deep, graceful bow that nearly lowered her long hair against the floor.
"Wonderful to see you as always, Drake... these four must be the team that you never actually asked for." She said.
"Well... you're right that I didn't ask for them... but they haven't been troublesome so far. Did you need something from me?" He asked curtly.
"Need anything? Oh, not at all, I actually came with another intention. Miss Yui, I don't think we're interrupting anything, and I doubt that he'd mind you being here." She said.
Yui passed over the threshold, giving Drake a grin and a wave.
"Hey! Miss me?" She asked.
He grinned back, returning the gesture.
She laughed, looking to her former student's charges.
"He hasn't done anything weird to you girls, right?" She asked.
"Well... define weird, he had me live through his fight with Cthulhu." Colette said.
"Ah... that ain't too bad, probably helped you see what the Aevator are like. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, it's not like he has any balls anyway. He wouldn't dare put his hands on a girl." She laughed.
"I'm pretty sure he has balls... aren't they those things that hang beneath his-"
"Cthulu... don't say another word." Drake said. "I'm sure you'd know all about having balls, wouldn't you, Yui? You are basically just a man wearing a dress after all." He teased.
"Ohh, you are gonna get it... let's meet where we always do... I think the club meeting there should be coming to a close any minute now." She said.
Her tone had a hint of anticipation to it, and Drake's response shared that tone.
"Sure thing... we using protection this time?" He asked.
"There's a lot of risk in doing it bare... ah fuck it, why not? Let's do it." She said. "Your team and club can come along and watch... I love putting on a show."
Drake ushered them out of the room, which promptly disappeared as he closed the door. Their destination, it seemed, wasn't very far, as they had only just reached the end of the left hallway before stepping into a different door.
This room was, without debate, a gymnasium. The walls were dotted with numerous basketball hoops, and had a series of painted lines denoting the boundaries for a number of different sports.
There WAS a large group of students who were cooling down from their various exercises, but as Yui had said, they seemed to be just about finished.
An older man glanced towards her as she approached. He was obviously a Japanese native, and looked to be in his mid thirties.
"Asahina! You're here again, eh? I guess you managed to pull Greymoor away from his work for some fun." He laughed.
"Yes sir. You don't mind, do you?" She asked.
"Nah! You're students here at Ivoria! You have every right to this place as anyone else. Just try not to break anything this time." He said.
Drake stepped up beside Yui, nudging her with his elbow.
"He means you, you hulking beast." He laughed.
"Yeah, yeah. I got a little too into how good it felt." She said sheepishly.
"Yeah you did, but like I said, I don't mind you two tending to your business in here, as long as you're willing to clean up your mess after." The man said.
"Thanks, Coach!" Yui said.
She stripped free of her jacket, tossing it to the side without another thought. Beneath her uniform, her body was rippling with walls of muscle. With her breasts covered by a simple sports bra, the rest of her torso was as exposed as possible, showing off her powerful form.
"She's really big." Valeria noted.
"Indeed... her body is impressive too." Xeria said.
Valeria shot her a look.
"What? Her chest is huge..." Xeria said.
Colette scanned Xeria, a look of disbelief on her face.
"And your isn't? You're like five foot two, and your chest is probably a Japanese G cup. Can you even see your feet?" Valeria asked.
"Hibiki, what size are you? I don't need specifics, just your cup size." Colette said.
"Umm... I'm an F cup." Hibiki said quietly.
"What about you, Valeria?" Colette said.
"Same as Hibiki, an F. You?"
"A D cup in Japanese sizes... Xeria?" Colette asked.
"If you must know, I AM in fact a G cup in Japanese sizes. Does it really matter?" She asked.
"No... no it doesn't." Drake said, snapping their attention back to him.
He had stripped his own top away, letting it fall to the floor next to Yui's.
His torso was covered in a set of bindings that Colette instantly recognized.
"Aren't those... Cthulhu's?" She asked.
"Sure are... glad you paid attention." He said.
Hooking his fingers into the top of the bindings, he pulled them away, tossing them atop his uniform, after fully unwrapping himself.
He was significantly smaller than Yui, but his body looked almost as well built as hers. While not covered in thick muscle, his lean form had an undeniable strength to it.
"He looks... almost like a dancer." Hibiki noted.
The others mumbled in agreement.
His skin seemed almost unnaturally pale, but after a moment of observation, Xeria managed to piece together why.
"You're covered in scars." She said.
"That's right... most of these are a result of me playing in dense woods as a child. I'm sure you might recognize these, though, Colette." He said.
He thumped his fingers against two round scars in the center of his torso.
"The tendrils." She said.
"Atta girl. I'll clue you three in soon... I'm sure you'll all get some benefit from seeing it." He said. "But now... I think it's time we get started, eh?"
Yui nodded, taking a few steps back to distance herself from him.
"Roshambo... you try to avoid a blow, you lose... you get knocked out, you lose." She said with a grin.
"You can start." He said.
"Alright... I'll go easy to warm... CHEST!"
She jumped forward, cocking her fist back, then planting it into his right pectoral with far too much force to be considered "easy". The impact sent him skidding back by about fifteen or so feet, but to nearly no one's surprise, he seemed otherwise unharmed.
He copied her blow completely, slamming a rather nasty looking punch into her chest.
Her body recoiled with enough momentum to spin her around. The motion left her dazed, but she shook her head and focused on Drake again.
"What the hell! Do you ever stop getting stronger?" She laughed.
"You're one to talk, I know how much you train." He grinned.
"We're gonna be covered in bruises by the time this is over, you know." She said.
"Of course... that's the fun!" He countered.
"Very true... my turn... STOMACH!"
With an uppercut straight to his core, she lifted him right off of the ground, nearly ten feet into the air. His legs wobbled in protest as he landed, and he fell back onto his behind.
"You're trying to end it as quickly as you can, aren't you?" He asked.
"Well I'm not going to win a battle of attrition with you... your durability is just too high." She said.
He hopped back onto his feet, his legs seemingly fully recovered.
Her body flew into the air in nearly the same fashion that he had, falling straight back to the ground and ending up right on her butt.
She scrambled to her feet, a rather pleased look in her eyes.
"Man... you've grown a hell of a lot since we met. I'm really proud to be your teacher." She said.
He nodded to her, holding his fist against his chest.
"I'm proud to be your student, I learned a lot from you, and I'm confident in my ability to teach my team because of you... thanks." He said.
She laughed, shaking her head as she steadied herself.
"This isn't something many would ever get to see." Ashelyn said quietly.
She had ended up next to the girls, watching the game intensely.
"What do you mean?" Xeria asked.
"Don't you see? This is a bout between genuine physical Titans. Asahina Yui is renowned as the strongest student to ever attend Ivoria... some say she can tear a tank apart with her bare hands." She answered.
"Then you have Drake... the Exceptional Exception. Putting aside the envy that others may have in regards to his looks, he's an absolute powerhouse. There isn't a person in this world who can take a hit as well as he can." She said.
Yui pounded her knuckles together, grinning at Drake.
"I know you're trying to prolong your inevitable victory... but I'm not gonna waste any more time." She said.
"Jupiter, Equalizer: Phases of Pain."
Her fists began to glow with an intense, pinkish-grey light.
"You've seen this enough times that you know how it works." She said.
"You power up according to how much punishment you've taken. Looking at you... you're just shy of Phase 3... shame, you might have been able to knock me out if you had taken another hit." He said.
"Maybe, but if I took another hit from you... I'd have passed out from pain." She laughed. "Now bring it out." She demanded.
"Gaia, Equalizer: Force of Nature."
Nothing about him seemed to change, despite his apparent activation of an Equalizer.
"Isn't your Equalizer with Gaia Earthborn?" Colette asked.
He laughed, shaking his head as he turned back to her.
"You think a guy like me would only be able to use a single Equalizer with his Deities?" He asked.
Yui laughed in kind, grinning as her student readied himself.
"You always do have an ace up your sleeve, don't you? Alright... here I come, FACE."
True to her callout, she dashed forward and clocked him directly in his cheekbone, however, this strike had a downward force to it, rather than just outward. The blow shot his head right into the wooden floor, where it bounced with an echoed *CRACK*
The wood beneath his head splintered, bending in response to the force. A small jet of blood shot from his face from a cut along his brow.
As his head came to rest in the cratered wood, Yui knelt down in panic, grasping at his arm and pulling him up.
"SHIT! I'm so sorry! I didn't even think when I moved! Are you alright?!" She cried.
Drake shook his head firmly, trying to shake the blur from his vision. As he lifted his face, a large, black bruise could be seen forming around his eye from his teacher's punch. Slightly above it, the cut on his brow was dotted with several slivers of wood that had lodged themselves in his face.
His hand brushed against the cut, feeling for the objects piercing his skin. One by one, he pulled them out in silence, dropping them into the now empty crater.
He took a breath as he finished, the black eye he had received now swelling a dark purple.
"I'm good! Now... time for a return." He said.
His gave the bruise on his left cheek an experimental press, wincing as his nerves lit up with pain.
"Damn, Yui. You did more damage to my face than the floor did!" He laughed.
Yui had backed away to her original spot in the gym, waiting patiently for Drake to be ready. She had an odd mixture of happiness and remorse on her face, but nodded when he gestured towards her.
"I was gonna try to get out of the way of this one... but I can't do it after hurting you like that." She said.
With a dash forward, he cocked his arm back again, leaning into his blow as he aimed upwards for her head.
The sound of his shoes screeching against the floor filled the air.
He uncurled his hand, swinging his arm around her neck and pulling her face down to his.
He hugged her against him for a moment, her eyes widened in shock for a moment before she returned the embrace.
"Cmon, Yui. You've known me for two years... it'll take a hell of a lot more than that measly little tap to put me down." He said.
He squeezed her a little harder, before letting go and pulling away.
"So... you're just gonna not hit me?" She asked.
"Nah... the fact that I could get right back up after taking a hit from you at nearly your best is enough of a win for me... even if I'm technically forfeiting the game... I've still got my pride intact. Hey... it might be a forfeit... but you still got your first win against me." He laughed.
She sighed, leaning in and planting a gentle kiss on his bruised cheek.
"I'm really sorry... I'm sure that hurts like hell." She said.
"I'm fine! I promise! Gaia can have thus healed up in like a minute." He grinned.
He stood up, offering her his hand.
"Still, I don't think anyone will be able to challenge you in a strength contest for quite some time... you've kept pace with me." He said.
She laughed, patting herself on the stomach as he pulled her up.
"Maybe... but I'm sure that come tomorrow, you'll be good as new, and I'll be sore beyond belief!" She groaned.
Their traded blows had already begun to leave their marks, Drake's chest and stomach covered with splotches of purple, and Yui's stomach already black with bruising.
The door to the gym slid open, Ari standing on the other side, looking in.
"There you are!" She gasped. "Allicity needs to see you... you and your team have been requested personally. I know it's a bit soon, but it's time for your first mission."