In the middle of their familial training, Rivin discovers a secret room in the walls.
"Why do we have to do this again?" Samantha complained in front of me as we dumped our school bags onto the couch. "I just had school training today, and I don't wanna do this now."
Mom appeared from the kitchen and moved in to hug both of us, and gave my older sister a quick kiss on the cheek. As usual, Samantha moved away in irritation, and it made me laugh at her.
"Don't you think it's fun? You get to shoot your little guns! Isn't that what you like the most?" mom said sweetly yet with a tinge of sarcasm, while Samantha and I trudged upstairs into our respective bedrooms to change into something more flexible. We walked back down not a moment later, and I cracked my neck to relax myself. School was exhausting.
Mom waited for us at the bottom of the staircase.
"Shooting is fun. Running is fun. What's not fun is getting shot at. You use a mini-gun, mom. Why do you even have a mini-gun?" Samantha shot back.
Mom sighed, and I took this as an opportunity to sneak away a bar of chocolate on top of the coffee table while they weren't looking. I trailed far behind them and listened on their daily bicker without joining in myself.
"Look, on the off chance that they come looking for us here, we need a way to defend ourselves. You know this. Both of you," She said exasperatedly, and I stuffed the entire bar into my mouth before I re-joined them as we headed towards the guest room, the plastic wrapping stuffed into my pockets without making much of a noise.
Samantha laughed. "Why would they ever find us here? We're on Earth. Earth is like, fifteen galaxies away from their base. Something like that. I doubt they care about us three anyways."
"Perhaps, and you can see it that way, but as someone who has seen their might with my very own eyes, I do not want us to be caught off guard. If they ever come to this house, we need to be ready."
I felt it was my turn to join in, so I walked in between them to get in my own piece.
"I would much rather just blow them up instead of engaging in a firefight. We all suck at it," I said, and Samantha shot me a glare.
"No, you suck at it. I'm fantastic with guns," she said as mom tapped twice on the alabaster-white coloured wall next to the guest room, and a hidden door slid open to reveal a spiral stairway headed downwards.
"So you'd rather fight them head on? That's what idiots think. Your mind has been tainted by Rambo and the sort." I continued to argue despite mom's very visible attempt at trying to stop us. Again.
"What? You think I think I'm Rambo?"
"No, I'm Jesus, and guns don't fail you. If they get shot, they will die."
The three of us stepped into the massive training room, and mom flicked on the light switch. After a second of delay, the white fluorescent lights switched on, revealing a featureless metal room that spanned at least half of a football field.
It never ceased to amaze me. While mom went and set up the training area for us, Samantha and I kept arguing.
"That's if you can shoot them. You know how it is. You'll get scared the moment you see them, and you'll miss every shot," I said, and this elicited a twitch from Samantha.
"No, that's you. You'd rather just hide and blow them all up with non-existent explosives. Where's the fun in that?"
We caught the nerf pistols that mom chucked at us from afar.
"The fun is in winning, and if they ever come, you can bet I'm going to be running and hiding." I caught the second ammo box that mom slid over to us, and the entire training room hissed.
I stopped and marvelled at the intricacy of the training room. The smooth metal flooring beneath us shuddered and opened up in small, horizontal slits, before metal walls about half our height shot up. Perfect covers for a firefight.
Mom returned to us from afar, and she strapped on two grey sashes across her shoulders. I couldn't help but show my dissatisfaction at the sashes. We have already lost the fight.
"Stop fighting, both of you. Go and arm yourselves up; you'd need more than your pistols to survive me." Mom grinned and nudged us both towards the singular table on our right, where need guns of every size and calibre sat upon boringly.
Samantha took her time in picking out her heavy rifles. I simply picked up a rubber knife, plus five of the pressure grenades at the far corner of the table. Samantha snickered at my choice of weaponry, and I stuck my tongue out at her.
"Those pressure bombs don't do anything," Samantha said, and I sighed.
"Neither does your rifle with only thirty bullets, but you don't see me whining about it."
"If they actually come, you'd wish you had a bigger gun." Samantha laughed, and as if on cue, the lights in the training room dimmed.
"No, I'd want to be as far away from them as possible. It's not worth it."
"If they come, you won't have a choice." Samantha turned to look back at mom. Mom played around with the light settings a little bit more until the training room dipped into an ambient setting, and I could see her eyes glow a faint purple. We took this as our sign to cut right through between the metal covers and cross over to the other side of the training room.
"And if I had no choice, I'd rather blow them up."
"You won't be able to do that." She sneered.
"Watch me, then," I fired back.
We finally reached the opposite end, I thumbed at the long lobs of pressure grenades by my waist, and I counted their numbers silently. Once I was satisfied with everything I had on hand, I slipped in the seven rubber bullets into the pistol in my left hand, and gripped the rubber knife in my right.
Mom roared and cackled from afar, and the lights decided to flicker on and off in response to her terrifying battle-cry. It could have been an in-built feature of the room, and that was cool, not going to lie. Mom always does the best job at mimicking how I imagined they would be.
Then again, she's the only one who could do that job. It's not like there were any other Raixiens that could do that.
We siblings stood there like dummies for a second, neither of us making a move first. It was like we were shocked at how guttural mom's war-cry was. Samantha finally looked over to me, and so, I smiled.
"Hey, hey, hey!" Samantha screamed next to my ears as my eyes flicked open, my head spinning in circles after what happened. And speaking of... what did happen?
"Don't get a goddamn concussion right now!" She screamed again
"A what?" I murmured in reply as a cold hand flew into my face, and I snarled at my sister.
"A concussion! Snap out of it right now! Use your eyes!" She snapped back at the exact same time a tiny chunk of metal fell from above and thunked off my skull, all while deafening roars of plastic bullets crashed into the cover behind me and blew up my eardrums.
They bore no real harm, and I wondered how in the hell nerf bullets managed to break apart metal, but Samantha pushed me to the ground violently nonetheless, then placed her hands over her ears in an attempt to convey something to me.
I twisted my head until it was completely parallel to the floor, and winced when a horizontal canister rolled into view.
"Ah, I see. This is a flashbang," I muttered out loud and rolled towards the other side lazily a second before a bright flash filled the underground room, though my lack of attention and reaction time made me writhe in pain from the 'bang' part of a flashbang.
My ears might be bleeding from the ringing, but it hurt less than seeing that glorious forty percent score on my physics test this morning.
I squinted and glared at Samantha behind the metal cover, who pointed a finger and laughed at me for having not listened to her advice.
I scrambled back as high-speed nerf bullets flew past my body, then leapt next to Samantha and grabbed at the pistol she held in her left hand, tearing it free from her tight grasp.
She rapped my temples with her knuckles, a signal for me to activate my eyes.
I sighed in defeat, and blinked once.
White outlines of the long bullets passed over my head and above my covers as ineffective suppressive fire. Samantha and I stood up from behind our hiding spot as one, and fired our pistols synchronously at mom cloaked within the purple haze, the purple energy blasts silenced as they passed into the mist.
Well. We might have missed all of our shots.
Samantha jumped to the right and behind cover, and before I could look over to question her, white outlines flew out from the haze. I dodged and narrowly avoided the bullets that would have signalled my 'death' far too soon into the fight. At the very least, my reaction to my Parallel Eyes seemed to be improving day by day.
"That is very good, Rivin! Keep it up!" mom yelled at me, and my heart leapt in joy. Her tone immediately toughened up as she switched to yell at Samantha just as an angry fist shook through the mist. "Samantha, you could have pushed your brother out of the way if you saw the bullets coming before him!"
As more bullets pelted against her cover, she shouted back at mom. "It's not my fault he can't see past one second!"
"And it's not his fault either! As the older sibling, you have higher capability with your Parallel Eyes than him, so you have a responsibility to keep him safe in the case he can't do it by himself!" The mist glided forward as if an invisible barrier was holding it back all this time.
My eyes glimmered in curiosity for the hundredth time this year. The technology mom had in this house was truly amazing.
The suppressive fire stopped for just long enough for Samantha and I to both move back further into the room. If any of us touched that smoke, we'd be out of the game.
"Samantha!" the figure in the mist snapped again, and Samantha stood up from her new cover, hands on her hips in annoyance.
"What?" Samantha snapped back.
"I know you saw it coming again, and you didn't say anything to your brother! How many times must we go over this?" Mom sounded angry, which was rare for once.
"Saw what coming?" Samantha bluffed, and I yanked her back down behind the cover with a mad grin on my face.
In the deepest and smoothest voice I could muster up from the bottom of my throat, I spoke. "You fool. I know you saw something before I did."
Samantha tilted her head.
"And if I did?"
"I mean, it would help you if you told me like mom told you to, but that's fine. I got this myself." And with that, I pulled out a detonator from my right pocket and waved it tantalizingly before my sister. "You rely on your Parallel Eyes a bit too much, don't you?"
I thumbed the button, and right after the three quiet pings, a loud bang erupted from the pressure explosives I had dropped behind us. I heard mom yelp, and that was my cue to go for it.
Of course mom was going to take the direct route to get to us. If she was trying to simulate as our mortal enemies, then she would go straight through the centre. Exactly where I dropped three of the five pressure explosives before the fight even began.
Samantha peeked over the covers, but she immediately ducked when nerf bullets continued to rain hell on us. I finished what I wanted to do, and quickly retracted my hand from Samantha's thighs before she saw anything.
I, as the superior little brother to my sister's raw combat ability, simply chuckled and scooted away from her. A light ping I had expected finally came from her trousers, and Samantha blinked.
Then, her eyes widened, and I laughed even harder as the familiar sound of a pressure explosive arming itself grew.
I dove back, and Samantha's pants expanded up like a hot-air balloon. My sister clicked her tongues in exasperation, and it was then that mom leapt over the metal we were hiding behind, her rifle pointed at me.
But it was too late, and mom knew it. She turned around to see Samantha scowling at me on the ground.
"Rivin-" Mom started as an invisible force exploded from Samantha's pockets. The mist blew away from the centre of detonations and dispelled the lack of vision that we had.
Samantha screamed at me, which was the last thing I saw before a nerf bullet struck my forehead, a parting gift before mom dropped to the floor for the second time today. My head thudded against the metal floor below me, and I dropped my smile as pain shot up the back of my skull.
Groaning, I stood up from my position on the cool metal floor and brushed off my pants and shirt. I deactivated my Parallel Eyes as Samantha and mom also stood up.
Mom grabbed Samantha by her collar and dragged her forward to meet me face to face. The metal covers that numbered in the hundreds across the training room all hissed and shuddered, then retreated back into the floor seamlessly where they would be hidden from any uninvited visitors. The once dim fluorescent lighting flicked off for a brief second and lit back up to its normal intensity, and finally, the air-conditioners snapped back on. Arguably the best thing about the training room.
Samantha shook free from mom's grip, and scowled at me with her pistol dangling loosely from her hands.
"Rivin, even if your sister is being uncooperative, you can't put a pressure bomb in her and blow her up. At least, don't do that in a real life situation. And when did you sneak that into her? No, when did you drop those on the floor?" Mom scolded me.
"Sorry, mom," I mumbled. She looked at me for a little while longer, before she nodded and switched her attention to Samantha. "I dropped them while we walked over to our side of the room."
"You shouldn't be using the pressure bombs. We don't have a lot of those, and it takes twelve hours for them to recharge. Besides, you could have hurt me and your sister really bad."
I tried my best to explain. "I toned down their pressure so they wouldn't hurt you, and why are we trying to save the weapons anyways? We won't be using them soon anyways." But mom was having none of it, and was already onto Samantha without hearing me out.
"And Samantha, just work with your brother sometimes." My mom firmly reprimanded Samantha, and that got her attention. Samantha gestured down at her trousers and complained about me ruining her pants, and I snickered, which only made her even more furious at me.
"That's enough!" mom shouted. "Samantha, your Parallel Eyes can see up to five seconds ahead, correct? You know Rivin can only see one second ahead unlike you, so you have an advantage in foresight. In that case, do what you can to protect him!"
"But you saw it! He didn't need my protection at all! One second is more than enough!"
"It is not! Samantha, even with your five second foresight, your outlines still defied you, didn't they?" Samantha's silence was her answer, and mom turned back to me. "Rivin, even with your one second foresight, did you manage to react quick enough to act on it?"
"No," I said, not totally sure what they were talking about. As they have said, my limit was one second, and that meant with their five second limit, they were able to see more than I ever could.
"See?" Mom raised her voice. "Our Parallel Eyes are amazing, but they are not invincible! Our foresight can be defied if you know how to anticipate it, and relying on your ability will only get you killed if you're not careful. This is why we're training!"
Samantha shot back in response. "But mom, who on Earth is going to be able to defy our Eyes? As long as the humans on this planet don't realize the first factor, their outlines will never defy us! Our predictions and foresight would never be wrong! The only ones who could fight back are the ones not on Earth, and they aren't here, so who cares?"
Strangely, mom had nothing to say in rebuttal. I studied her face to gauge any sort of unusual reaction, but could not settle on anything specific ultimately. Samantha was right, though. The first factor was the foundation to 'defying' our foresight. If our opponent does not realize that we have the ability to see their outlines, to see their movements one second before they do it, then why would they ever act beyond what they were supposed to do?
It never made much sense to me either. So far, the outlines of people's movements had never deviated even once except for when using it on mom. But that was to be expected, of course. Mom had the same ability as us, so she knows about the ability, and can thus take measures to defy the outlines. Can the same be said for the clueless humans in this small town in the middle of Wisconsin?
And besides, even if any humans could somehow defy the white outlines, the bullets wouldn't. Objects always moved in a pre-determined path when forces are applied. Inanimate objects cannot defy their movements no matter how much wishing one does. That's physics, and physics always prevails.
So, did we really need to be doing these training sessions? What were the chances that they would come to Earth for us? It had to be infinitesimally small that they would come. Apart from the fun and physical exercise that came with the training, it offered nothing else.
I would much rather call Edward over for video games, or go read on my Kindle.
Though, I kept that to myself. If mom thought it to be good for us, then I'd do it. Mom's usually right.
While mom struggled to argue back, Samantha picked up a chunk of broken metal and chucked it at my face as hard as she could. Mom shouted and moved to intercept it, her eyes a dull shade of purple to indicate the activation of her ability, but she was too late. The piece of metal flew past her hands... and past my head.
The metal crashed against the metal wall behind me, and my ears perked at the odd sound that came from it.
"You see? Rivin can dodge and take care of himself just fine! One second is way more than enough!" Samantha said proudly, and the two women of the house started to bicker and argue once again while I stepped towards the wall steadily, brows furrowed at the dent in the wall that didn't make sense to me.
"Look, just... go back up and take a shower. Dinner will be ready soon." Mom sounded sad, and before any of us could say any more, she trudged back upstairs without waiting for us.
Why was there a dent in the training room, buried deep underground below our house? And why was the impact hollow?
I ignored Samantha still staring near tangible daggers from behind me, and tapped the metal wall to listen for the hollow sound once again just to see if I was going nuts from the flashbang. I was proved sane when I heard it again, and this time, it caught Samantha's attention.
"What was that?" Samantha asked, and I turned back just to shake my head in dismay. I rapped on the wall a couple more times for good measure, and there it was again.
"There's a space behind this wall," I said out loud, and she moved forward to join me by the dent in the wall. "The architect working on this must suck."
The two of us grinned to each other, and we began to look around the training room for anything out of the ordinary. The rational thing was to find the switch that would open this obvious secret door, and that was what I did as I traced the side of the metal wall for a button I could press on. That was usually how buttons are hidden.
Samantha, however, was having none of it. I only managed to trace my hands on the wall for five seconds before I heard a deafening crack coming from the dent in the wall. I turned back to see my sister kicking at the dent with the might of gods. I shouted at her to stop her futile attempt, but when the sound of reverberating hollow thundered in my ears, I stopped 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 her third kick.
It was my daily reminder that Samantha was unbelievably strong when she really wanted to be. That, or the wall was unbelievably weak, despite it being made out of steel. Now, why would that be?