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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/978594-Chapter-1-Rivin
Rated: 18+ · Book · Sci-fi · #2216358
Go read Box: Detach instead!
#978594 added September 11, 2020 at 3:02am
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Chapter 1: Rivin

Chapter 1


Rivin


"Why, oh, why do we have to train again?" Samantha complained with a loud mewl as both of us dumped our school bags onto the couch, rotating our shoulders back and forth synchronously to relieve them of their tension. "I just had basketball training today, and Rivin's brain is just dead from physics class, so do we really have to do this now?"


"Hey, don't drag me into your slothfulness. I can still do things," I said, sighing to let out all the stuffy air still stuck in my lungs from the two hours physics lesson. "Though, I wouldn't mind if we took a day off..."


Mom appeared from the kitchen in that cerise crimson apron of hers and dashed towards us like a panther, giving Samantha a quick peck on her cheek.


As usual, Samantha moved away in irritation of the show of affection, and the Samantha pain expression - that cat-like scrunch of her cheeks and thin eyebrows - elicited a slight chortle out of me.


It was always entertaining to see my older sister in mental distraught.


When Mom looked towards me, she hesitated for a split second before spreading her arms wide, giving me a light pat on the back.


"Don't you think training is fun? You two get to shoot your guns and play out your favourite fantasies? Isn't that what kids these days do in their video games?" Mom said sweetly with a tinge of sarcasm while Samantha and I trudged upstairs into our respective bedrooms to change into something more flexible.


Samantha and I both knew there was no arguing with Mom when she started to joke like that, so, we had begrudgingly accepted that training was inevitable.


Samantha flew down the stairs not a moment later in black sweatpants and a pink t-shirt, her dark and messily short hair trailing behind her skull from the air currents generated by her jump.


Meanwhile, I took my time walking down the stairs while clutching the mahogany railing, dressed in a plain white and black striped shirt and dark-blue waterproof trousers that I always stuck to like glue.


The soft pounding from the inside of my skull was still at work, but today's overall sickness level - as I liked to call it - was nowhere as high as two days ago, when I had to take the physics quiz at school. The swirl in my stomach felt nauseating; as it did the same yesterday, and the day before that, and the week before that, and the year before that.


Still, the sickness wasn't completely unmanageable, and it felt like I could still balance myself on two feet even if I let go of the stair railings right now.


Mom was waiting for the both of us at the bottom of the staircase, and her eyes met mine as she was removing her apron from the back.


Her eyes seemed to shine with worry, but I smiled and gently shook my head.


I'm fine.


The sickness would persist, as usual, so there was not much point in mulling on it. I considered myself a logical and rational person, after all, and logical people do not dwell on the past. Neither should Mom.


Thankfully, even though Mom didn't seem convinced by my smile, Samantha was still complaining, and that took Mom's attention away from me.


"Shooting is fun. Running is fun. What's not fun is getting shot at by your Mom, who is constantly high on sugar and tries to be relatable with teenagers by trying to talk like them," Samantha said, closing one eye as she did.


Mom sighed, and as the three of us passed through the living room to head downwards to the underground training room, I took the opportunity to steal a bar of chocolate atop the coffee table while Mom and Samantha were distracted in their little squabble.


Since they were entirely focused on one another, I trailed a pace behind them and listened in on their daily bicker without joining in on the conversation myself, gleefully awaiting the sweetening sensation that would soon assault the tip of my tongue.


"Look, on the off chance that they come looking for us here, we need to defend ourselves perfectly and flawlessly. You know this. Both of you. I'm just repeating myself like a parrot. It's like you two never evolve past your infant stages," Mom said exasperatedly, and I finished stuffing the entire bar of chocolate in my mouth, catching back up to them as we entered the spacious guest room.


Mom glanced back at me even though I had made sure that my devious theft and devouring of a chocolate bar was done in complete silence, and I rubbed my hair, laughing breathlessly.


Though, Mom winked at me lovingly before turning back to face my older sister, instead of scolding me for eating right before high-intensity physical exercises.

Samantha frowned. "But, Mom, why would they suddenly find us here? We're on Earth. Earth is, like, fifteen galaxies away from their mothership-"


"Do I need you to teach you the basics of how space works again?"


"-I doubt they care about the three of us anyways. Nothing's changed at all since you escaped. Can't we all just not train for one day? It's not like they're going to come now that we've mentioned them out loud. How clich/SPAN> would that be?"


"Perhaps so, and you can view our situation in that way, but as someone who has seen their might with my very own eyes, I don't want us to be caught off guard. If they ever come to this house, we need to be ready, and that means training in the most inopportune times when you two are complaining. Such as now."


This felt like my turn to join in, so I walked in between Mom and Samatha to get in my own piece.


"I mean, I would much rather just leave some traps for them instead of engaging in a firefight, since we all suck at guns anyways," I joked, earning me a glare from Samantha.


"No, you suck at it. I'm fantastic with guns. I'm great at it!" Samantha said as Mom tapped twice on the alabaster-white coloured wall on our left, and a hidden door slid open to reveal a spiraling stairway headed downwards.


The three of us journeyed down, though Samantha and my spirit was as high as ever.


"So you'd rather fight them head-on if you get the chance to? That's what idiots think. You're an idiot. You've watched too much Rambo and Terminator," I said.


"What, you think I think that I'm Rambo?"


"Yeah."


"No, thanks, but I'm actually Jesus, and guns don't fail you. If we get a chance to shoot them in the head, they will die."


These were petty arguments that wouldn't lead to any satisfying conclusion, but neither of us were willing to back out of the fight now.


Even as the three of us stepped into the massive training room, where the fluorescent white lights flicked on automatically after detecting our presence and a seemingly endless space that spanned at least half of a football field in both length and width revealed itself to us, we kept on arguing.

And though the sight never ceased to amaze me every time I looked at the training room, I just couldn't muster up the strength to focus my eyes at anything in particular. My sickly state would not allow me to.


While Mom went ahead of us to set up the training area, Samantha and I continued our squabble.


"They can die, yes, but that's only if you can shoot them. You know how it goes in the movies. The moment you see them with your own eyes, you'll get scared and act like a Stormtrooper. You're going to miss every shot," I said, prompting a twitch from Samantha.


"No, that's you. You'd rather just hide and blow them up with old-fashioned tripwires. Where's the fun in that? If you're going to train, you might as well actually train instead of wasting your time like that."


"If practicing stealth skills counts as wasting time for you, then how would you describe you spending the entire lunch period making lewd jokes with Edward? Wait. Maybe that's just as useless!"


The two of us caught the nerf pistols that Mom chucked at us from afar without looking, and I was vaguely aware of Mom yelling at us to stop arguing about trivial hypotheticals.


However, if I were to give in now, I would never hear the end of it from Samantha.


"The fun is in the winning, and if they ever come, you can bet I'm going to be running and hiding like the absolute professional I am," I said, catching the ammo pouches that Mom slid over to us, and the training room hissed as if in conjunction with Mom's wishes for us to be silent.


I stopped listening to Samantha's retorts for a moment and marveled at the intricacy of the training room beneath our house in Oakwood, Wisconsin.


The smooth metal flooring - where the panels were placed in a jigsaw puzzle-like pattern - across the entire training room shuddered, opening up small, horizontal slits where walls about half our height shot up from the ground. Perfect covers for a firefight.


Mom began walking over to the other side of the training room, about fifty meters away, with two grey sashes strapped across her torso from the shoulders to the waist, the purple orbs attached to the sashes pulsing a dark shade of purple.


I couldn't help but show my dissatisfaction at the sashes.


Ah, well, if Mom's using the sashes, then we've already lost.


"Stop fighting, you two. Go arm yourselves. You'll need more than your nerf pistols to survive my... uh, sugar-high state." Mom whirled back around as she walked and grinned - as she always did whenever she sensed our fear of getting nailed in the head by rubber bullets - while beckoning us towards the lonely table on our right, where weapons of every size and caliber sat upon boringly.


Samantha took her time in picking out her heavy rifles with a delightful smile, while I scanned the array of complicated weapons, simply deciding that it would take too much brainpower to remember and process how to handle all of them.


If I picked something too difficult to use, I would only fumble with it during the fight and trip myself over. My frailty and the never-fading sickness meant I had zero dexterity with my fingers, after all.


So, I settled for a rubber knife that Mom bought for Samantha as a Halloween toy a year ago, plus five of the circular paint bombs at the far corner of the table, knowing that Samantha would never pick explosives as her weapons voluntarily.


As expected, Samantha snickered at my choice of weaponry, and I stuck my tongue out at her in retaliation.


The air tasted salty on my tongue, but painting over that was the immediate spike of pain that stabbed into my jaw, causing me to wince and retract my tongue instantly.


There were neither any indications nor signs to deduce what was plaguing my body, only that the sickness could manifest however it wants, whenever it wants, be it with a nauseating migraine at two in the morning, or random pain spikes all over my body without any observable patterns.


I had considered going to a Human clinic or a hospital to check out what was causing the sickness, but Mom had always adamantly refused to do so, saying that our extraterrestrial biology could tip the Humans off to our existence. I understood that notion perfectly - we couldn't just let Humans know that aliens do, in fact, exist. It wasn't too difficult to see the magnitude of chaos that would rise up due to the three of us getting discovered as aliens.


But still, it would be nice if I could get rid of the sickness and live normally, just like Samantha.


I tossed my weakness behind another smile.


"Those paint bombs won't do anything to Mom,' Samantha said, and I smiled even wider.


"Neither does your rifle with only thirty rubber bullets, but you don't see me whining about your choice of weaponry."


"If they actually come, you'd wish you had a bigger gun."


"No, I'd want to be as far away from that as possible. It's not worth it playing a hero."


"If they come, you won't have a choice."


"Just like how you said you didn't have a choice with the multiple choice questions in the physics quiz two days ago?"


The back and forth continued, but Mom was fed up with us.


"Holy shit, you two are annoying!" Mom thundered from across the training room, causing Samantha and I to freeze up in catatonia. "Just shut up and get ready, or I'll make the worst dinner you two will ever eat in your five-hundred yearlong lifespan!"


Samantha turned to look at Mom, who was playing around with the training room light settings with a remote, until the room dipped into an ambient, foggy setting with a thin white smoke beginning to billow in from pipes crisscrossing all over the high ceiling.


Mom's right eye lit up purple, the demonic glow piercing through the room as light completely faded out for a few seconds. Samantha and I took this as our cue to cut right through between the maze-like metal covers and put ourselves twenty meters or so before Mom.


"But if I had no choice but to fight, I'd just use my amazing brain and blow my enemies up with ultimate prescience. Kinda like any classic genius antagonist in a science fiction story," I whispered, chuckling madly under my breath.


"You won't be able to do that." Samantha sneered, as if challenging me to a dare.


"Watch me, then."


"Fine."


"Fine."


The nerf pistol in my left hand was already loaded, and the rubber knife was tucked tightly in an icepick grip in my right. Counting the numbers of the paint bombs I stuck in my trouser pockets silently, I took a deep breath and prepared for the start of the training match.


Today, like any other day, Samantha and I would face off against Mom, and likely find ourselves sprawled on the floor within minutes.


But maybe today was different.


One could always hope.


Without warning, Mom roared from afar, the lights flickering on and off as if in response to her terrifying battle-cry. It could have been an in-built feature of the training room designed just to intimidate us, but alas, neither Samantha nor I ever bothered to ask Mom. Maybe I should today, after training, just for curiosity's sake.


Now, now, now.


How long will we be able to survive Mom's bullet barrage?





Two minutes into the simulated firefight, and my head was already spinning in circles from the nerf bullet that I just took straight into my right temple.


One would think that toy bullets fired from toy guns would be designed to... well, not hurt. Mom would be inclined to disagree with this notion, though I had always suspected that she had modified these guns and weapons to make them pack more of a punch.


A cold hand flew into my cheek from the left, and a loud smack resonated throughout the training room. The shock from the impact jolted me awake, and I turned to snarl at my sister, who was hiding behind the same cover as I was.


"You looked like you were going to get a concussion." Samantha shrugged, claiming innocence when it was rather obvious that she just wanted to slap me around, as she usually did during these training sessions.


"I'm going to blow you up."


"Try it, then."


"Fine."


"Fine."


More bullets roared and whizzed over the top of ours heads, fired from the deluxe edition minigun that Mom bought to help train our response towards suppressive fire. It was arguable what sort of situation would entail Samantha and I getting into a firefight against a minigun, and I had complained to Mom about at least training for a situation that seemed more realistic - maybe just simple close quarters combat - but as usual, she had shot me down, saying that a minigun was just more enjoyable to handle than a pistol.


Sometimes, I wondered if Mom really wanted to train us, or if she was just using all of this as an excuse to wound down from her day-to-day job as a florist.


Samantha tried peering over our cover to see when Mom would run out of bullets and would be forced to reload, which was when we would strike, but Samantha immediately ducked back down with a hand on her forehead.


The stream of bullets flying over us had zeroed in on Samantha's head in that one instant, and Samantha groaned, rubbing a patch on her forehead where several bullets had struck her seemingly with the force of a warhammer.


Not a second later, a flashbang grenade clinked and rolled its way around the cover to mock Samantha and I, and Samantha pushed me by the shoulder towards the left of the cover, while she herself ducked to the right.


Ah, there's no choice.


I have to use it.


Escaping the radius of the flashbang was near impossible from this distance, and there was no other cover that I could feasibly retreat to after leaving this one. If I exposed myself, Mom would mow us down with plastic bullets. If I stayed behind the cover, the flashbang would detonate right in front of me, and no amount of clasping my ears and shutting my eyes would help me nullify the effects of the 'flash' and the 'bang'.


Thus, I needed to time my ability correctly.


I eyed the nearest metal cover - about six steps to my left - and firmly placed a mental anchor to that spot, fixing the image of me crouching behind that cover into my short-term memory.


And then I forced myself to exhale out, soothing my nerves before the final step that would bring me to safety.


There was no telling where I would go if I didn't do this ritual of breathing out every time I used my ability, and despite all that I do to calm myself down before doing what was supposed to be second nature to me, hesitance still plagued my heart every time without fail.


But, all I needed was to have courage, and take a step forward-


-you?


A fracture in time.


The quick, greyish blurring of my vision was the only indication that I had successfully travelled a second into the future, and I was now standing behind the metal cover where I had intended to get to a second ago.


I sucked in a breath of fresh, underground air, and quickly vaulted over the cover with the pistol in my left hand, knowing that for this next second, I was now nearly invincible.


Which meant I had to capitalize on this second.


My eyes blazed purple, brightening my peripheries as prisms of light rays flooded out in front of me. The straight light rays zigged and zagged nearly instantaneously, contorting through the air as it formed outlines of the plastic bullets flying towards my body, one second into the future.


Enlightened by the outcome of the future as I was, I jerked myself further to the left despite my frailty, dodging the one second stream of bullets that would've otherwise minced my flesh and bones into pieces - if they were real bullets, of course.


My maneuver worked like a charm for a brief moment - Mom was smiling proudly as she continued holding down the trigger for her minigun, and though I was half-tripping on my own clumsy legs, my pistol was trained dead on onto Mom - until time seemingly collapsed once again, and I bumped into Samantha.


She had appeared out of nowhere, and being siblings that could not synchronize our thoughts or movements at all, our legs tangled onto each other's, and we fell forward on our faces at the same time.


I fired a shot out of panic, but my aim had been thrown off from bumping into my damned older sister, resulting in the plastic bullet lazily ricocheting off the ceiling and hitting absolutely nothing.


Mom sighed loudly and reared her minigun, intending on showing no mercy to us two fools who had not even tried to coordinate our dodging of the flashbang, which went off at about the same time Samantha bumped into me.


Ringing akin to a thousand bells clanging inside my eardrums made my head explode in pain, and though I was already squinting while falling to minimize the effects of the 'flash', it was simply not possible to avoid hissing out of surprise from how bright the room suddenly became.


My palms touched the floor, and the minigun in the distance whirred.


Skip forward in time now!


But I didn't have the time to look up and decide where I wanted to appear, nor did I have the time to exhale.


If I kept laying here, Mom would blast me to living hell, so I needed to skip forward now-


-this?


I was sitting up with my back to another cover, but the knife in my shaky right hand was nowhere to be seen. I looked down and saw that I still had my pistol, and immediately scanned my surroundings, wondering what happened in the second that I had disappeared from time.


The light rays flew into my vision again, but I ignored it this time around, not wanting to utilize my one second of foresight right now.


Samantha had disappeared as well, indicating that she must've used her ability along with me to avoid the minigun fire and the flashbang. Though, since her limit with her ability was five seconds, I probably wouldn't see her until at least a second or two later.


And so I waited, huffing and puffing and trying to get a hold of my heartbeat as Mom continued letting loose plastic bullets from her minigun, cackling and laughing like an utter madwoman. Surely, she was enjoying this training session to the fullest, even though all she was doing was advancing towards us at a snail's speed totting a minigun.


Four seconds after I vanished from time and reappeared safely behind cover, Samantha appeared next to me, also sitting up with her heavy rifle in her hands.


She was breathing hard as well, and our eyes locked.


It felt as though we were about to erupt in yet another argument, but before that future could perchance come to a pass, purple smoke began creeping past the edge of our metal cover, and the both of us held our breaths.


If we were to breathe in the purple smoke, emanating from the orbs on the sashes that Mom had strapped across her torso, we would instantly find ourselves in an overwhelming disadvantage, and any possibility of us winning this training match would go down in the drain. Such was the nature of the only surviving technology of the Raixiens; the last relic that Mom had brought to Earth after escaping from her home planet.


Though, Mom only had two sashes, which meant she hogged them both during our training sessions, leaving no Raixien technology for me and Samantha to use.


Scampering and desperate to escape from the clutches from the smoke, Samantha and I backed up from our cover and turned around to face the dense purple smoke, firing blindly in hopes of hitting Mom. The suppressive minigun fire had halted, almost as if-


Oh?


Mom's going to appear...


Samantha and I were backing up fast enough to outpace the advancing smoke, but while being in the smoke would bring about our loss, it would not be the direct cause of our loss. That would be Mom's job, and if she had stopped firing, then that meant she was now also using her ability.


By the time I finished this train of thought, Samantha's wild firing into the smoke had mostly dispersed it, revealing that there was, indeed, no Mom standing in the middle of it with a heavy minigun.


Samantha realized it just too late, but before she could even think about using her ability, I dashed towards her and grabbed her wrist, grinning ecstatically for what I was about to do.


"Hey, what? Let go of me! Mom's going to appear and blast us both!"


"You fool. I already know that. Now hold this," I said, ripping the heavy rifle out of her hands and forcing a circular paint bomb into her free hand while tapping the purple circle on the bomb lightly twice. Samantha was still too surprised to process the things happening within the span of five seconds, and once I made sure my older sister was holding onto the paint bomb without any notion of recognizing what she was holding, I pushed her in the collarbone towards an empty spot next to us both.


Samantha stumbled backwards, and though she really should have let go of the paint bomb by now, her shock was preventing her from making any logical decisions on the spot.


She took three steps back, and by the five second mark since the minigun ceased firing, Mom appeared behind Samantha.


... And the two women of the house crashed into each other, falling over exaggeratedly.


I belted out a laugh and snapped my fingers, finishing my mental countdown from three.


The bomb that Samantha was holding exploded as if on my magical cue, and I reeled away from the two, avoiding getting the bright pink paint all over my body. It was a scene out of any eighteen-plus war movie, where a soldier would implode and splatter violent sprays of blood and visceral organs from a mine, except that in this case, the blood and organs were frustrated groans from Samantha and a disappointed sigh from Mom.


Both of them lay motionless on the floor for a while, contemplating life and how best to beat me up before dinner.


Mom tried to sit back up first with her long and straight 'pink' hair, but I snapped my pistol on her head and fired once, mouthing the word bam with a slight smile. However, Mom was impossibly quick with her hands, and she batted the bullet away mid-air, scowling at me while helping Samantha get up from the floor as well.


I watched the two attempt to scratch and wipe off the aqueous pink paint off of their bodies tiredly, and I quickly realized that this training match was, for all intents and purposes, over.


Did I win?


Excitedly, I opened my mouth to sarcastically boast my own victory, but Mom beat me to the chase.


"Rivin, what did I say about using paint bombs during these matches? It's not fun getting the paint off, you know?" Mom said, glaring at me pointedly. "And before you say it, no, you didn't win. Winning entails the both of you living through the fight, and what did I say about shoving paint bombs onto Samantha?"

I had half a mind to defend myself and argue that I did win, but if I was being honest with myself, I knew where Mom was coming from.


She was right.


Despite how it looked to outsiders, I wouldn't shove a bomb onto Samantha and 'sacrifice' her in a firefight just to win. That was no victory.


That was just living.


So, for that reason, I dipped my head down and mouthed an apology to Mom.


It looked as if Mom wanted to keep on scolding me, but either she heard my silent apology or she decided to let me off easy today, because she instead whirled on Samantha and began her rant.


At the same time, the fluorescence lighting flicked off and back on to its normal intensity, while the air-conditioners started sending cold waves of air crashing onto our heated bodies.


"And Samantha, just... just work with your brother sometimes. You know he needs your help." Mom firmly reprimanded Samantha, and that made Samantha stop wiping paint off her bare arms.


Samantha gestured down at her and complained about me ruining her clothes, and I snickered, which only made her even more furious at me.


Mom wasn't having it.


"That's enough! Samantha, since you can Detach and Foresee up to five seconds into the future, while Rivin can only go a second forward, you have a responsibility to protect Rivin when he needs it! Why am I even telling you this? You're her older sister! You should be protecting him regardless!"


"But you saw it! It's not like he needs my protection at all! One second of Detachment and one second of Foresight is more than enough!"


"It is not! Samantha, even though you saw five seconds into the future after Detaching for five seconds, could you act on the advantage that you had against my minigun? Could you?"


Samantha's silence was her answer, and Mom turned back to me.


"Rivin, even with your one second of foresight, did you manage to shoot me after vaulting over that cover?"


"No," I said, not entirely sure what they were talking about. As usual, they were talking within their own limits of up to five seconds of Detachment and Foresight, so I was already automatically excluded from the context of their conversation, being someone who could only Detach and Foresee a second into the future.


I didn't think much about this depressing fact that I could never match up to them in terms of my ability.


There was nothing that I could do about it.


"See?" Mom raised her voice. "Our ability is amazing, but they don't make you invincible! Sure, you can dodge anything for a few seconds, and you can see the probable future for the same amount of time that you vanish for, but that's it. It doesn't - argh, how many times have I said this - give you the skill and decision making you need to survive in a fight. This is why we train, and why I tell you not to rely on your abilities so much!"


Samantha shot back in response. "But, Mom, who on Earth is going to be able to deal with our abilities? Literally. Humans can't defy the future, and they have no idea what we can do. I'd say we're pretty close to God."


For once, Mom seemed to be at a loss of words, not saying anything in rebuttal. Faced with this strange occurrence, I studied Mom's face to gauge any sort of reaction from her, but ultimately, I could not settle on anything specific.


Though, if I had to make a guess, she was feeling conflicted right now.


Because Samantha, for all her impetuous loudness and blitheness, was also correct.


I held the same thoughts as my older sister did; that nobody on Earth could defy the future that we can Foresee after Detachment. Perhaps the eradicators of the Raixiens could, and Mom certainly seemed to think so, but it wasn't realistic or rational to train without abusing our ability.


Weren't we technically invincible?


Our Foresight applied to everything in motion. Objects always move in their predetermined paths when forces are applied. Inanimate objects do not defy their future, no matter how much wishing one does. On Earth, and against Humans, we Raixiens were completely safe.


That's just physics, and physics always prevails.


There really was no need to have these training sessions. What were the chances that they would come to Earth just for us? It had to be an infinitesimally small probability that they would come.


So, apart from the fun and physical exercise that came with the training, it offered nothing else. I'd rather call Edward over for video games, chill for the rest of the day, and live in a loop until I graduate from high school, from which point onwards, I'd be working as a normal member of society.


... I kept all that to myself.


If Mom believed that the training would be good for us, then I'd ought to oblige her wishes. Mom was usually right, and in the end, she only wanted the best for both of us.


And I also knew Mom had different expectations for me. Different from Samantha.


I was weak and frail, and I'd catch every single disease every time flu season rolled around.


Mom already doesn't expect much from me, so the least I could do was to accept what she wants me to do.


If I ever get a wish upon a star, I'd wish away this permanent sickness.


That's what I want now, I suppose.


If only there was a cure.


While Mom struggled to argue back, Samantha craned over, picked up the heavy rifle that she had dropped when she tripped over, and chucked the weapon towards my face with the force of a thousand bears.


Mom shouted at her and moved in to intercept the rifle, her eyes even glowing a dull shade of purple to indicate her preparation to activate her ability, but she was too late and too slow.


The rifle flew past Mom's outreached hands... and past my head, crashing against the metal walls of the training room behind me.


My ears perked at the odd sound that the rifle made when it clanged off the wall.


"You see? Rivin can dodge and take care of himself even without Detaching and Foreseeing! If he activated his ability right there and then, he's just as invincible as we are!" Samantha said proudly, and the two women of the house started to bicker and argue once again while I took a step back to pick up the heavy rifle.


Idly, I dragged my hands across the plastic barrel of the fake weapon, wiping away the non-existent dust. However, my eyes were narrowed at the dent in the metal wall; a peculiarity that shouldn't be there, if the design of the training room was any indication of its technological and structural integrity.


"Look, just... go back up and take a shower first. Dinner will be ready soon." Mom sounded sad, but before Samantha or I could say any more, Mom began trudging back upstairs without waiting for us.


Samantha and I immediately grimaced. Mom usually wouldn't get sad from anything, even from the soapiest of soap operas, but something seemed to be different about her today. And even Samantha wasn't so callous that she'd revel in our Mother's sorrow.


But, still, my mind was distracted, wandering, absolutely curious at the appearance of a dent in the training room.


The impact when the rifle struck the wall was that of a hollow impact.


So, I ignored Samantha's perplexed glares from behind as I placed one palm onto the dent, and rapped the wall with my other hand, listening for the hollow sound just to see if I was simply going nuts from the flashbang. Seeing things and hearings weren't that unheard of, either. The mind was fragile and weak, and with only a little minor distraction, perception could be easily warped to another's-


Hm?


I was proved sane - or insane - when I heard the hollow reverberation again, and this time, it also caught Samantha's attention. Gone was the regretful girl who likely wanted to apologize to Mother for taking part in a trivial argument, and Samantha joined me as I shook my head in dismay, rapping the wall a few more times just to be sure.

"There's a space behind this wall," I said, frowning to myself.


"Just like your head."


"Silence, fool."


The two of us grinned to each other, and immediately, we started scanning our immediate surroundings for anything out of the ordinary. The rational thing to do was to find the switch that would open this obviously secret door to a cave entrance, and that was what I did, as I traced the side of the metal wall for a push-in button that I could... push on.


That was usually how people disguised secret levers or buttons in the movies; as props in the nearby surroundings.


Samantha, however, was having none of my technical work. I had only managed to trace my hands on the wall for a measly four seconds before I heard a deafening crack splitting the air from the dent in the wall.


I whirled back around in surprise to see my sister kicking at the dent with the might of gods, her hands pulled back with each kick to ensure maximum force was applied to the wall. I shouted at her to stop her futile attempt - since there was no saying what using brute force to open up the door would bring down on us - but when it became assured that the wall would be opened up no matter what I said, I stopped shouting and simply stared at her as she went ham on the wall.


There was a creak, there was a groan, and then, the metal wall crashed open on the fifth kick.


It was my daily reminder that Samantha was unbelievably strong when she really wanted to show it off. That, or the wall was unbelievably weak, despite it looking as if it was made out of steel.


Now, why would there be a door here?


The two of us coughed and waved away the cloud of dust that sprang up from the inside of the cave, but I recovered faster - having expected a blinding wave of something to rise up - and peered into the new hole in the wall.


I blinked.


The cave was completely devoid of any and all colours, and right there and then, I shivered. The swirl in my stomach that had calmed down quite a bit since two days ago began to churn and roar, and a terrible migraine struck my head, travelling down my nerves into my heart, my bones, shocking every last muscle tissue in my body as if a crackling bolt of lightning decided that today was my day to perish.

My neck bone cracked as I forced myself to look at Samantha.


This unholy sensation wasn't just felt by me.


Samantha was just as still as I was.


An irrational fear of the dark. An irrational fear of the unknown. An illogical physical response to an intangible threat, a feat only achievable by those deemed as 'living', and yet, it was a feat that did not serve us any benefit as Samantha and I stared down the newly opened voice before us.


...Huh.


What are you hiding?



















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