As Catsy slowly came to, she found herself in an unfamiliar white room. She found herself in what had to be the most comfortable bed known to man. The stench of smoke clung to the sweat of her body, a clear indicator that she had not been out for long. Her recollection of the events leading up to her sudden loss of consciousness was foggy. Still, she distinctly remembered feeling like her attacks had turned against her. Her fear had been overwhelming and all-consuming, and then, she had a vision.

In the vision, a man suddenly appeared before her, connected to her by an invisible "red string of fate." Catsy's heart pounded in her chest as she tried to understand what was happening. She felt a deep sense of confusion, fear, and a fierce determination to fight.

When the vision ended, she was back in the room, alone. The space was foreign to her, far grander than any place she had ever been. The wall was adorned with a large bookshelf, filled with books on mythology, fantasy, and mystery thrillers, arranged alphabetically by the author. The room was bathed in natural light, streaming in through several windows.

A large screen before her was big enough to be in an IMAX movie theater and on the screen: labels for every game system probably known to man. She had to question who liked games and books this much, and why would they bring her there.

This is definitely not the school ward. Not the Knight Island Hospital either; she'd been to both enough times to know every sector by heart. Her missions often led her there, not always on purpose. She gritted her teeth as the vision of the man came back to her. Was this the first time she'd seen that vision? Or that man for that matter?

Catsy's mind raced as she tried to piece together what had happened. Where was she? And who was that man in her vision? She knew she had to be prepared for anything and face whatever lay ahead.

Catsy was preparing to stand up when Ken walked in without acknowledging her. Instead, he headed straight to the refrigerator, which she hadn't noticed earlier, and grabbed some string cheese and a bottle of water. Ken then threw the water bottle towards Catsy, who caught it effortlessly. She couldn't help but wonder why he would toss something towards someone who had just been unconscious.

Ken hesitated before finally breaking the silence. "Um, Catsy?" he asked hesitantly.

Catsy stirred in her sleep before opening her eyes. "Hm? What's up?" she mumbled groggily.

"Are you, uh, awake?" Ken asked awkwardly, avoiding eye contact.

Catsy sat up and rubbed her eyes. "Yeah, I'm awake now. Is everything okay?" she asked with a hint of concern. She prepped her hidden claws in case he said the wrong thing.

Ken nervously shuffled his feet. "Yeah, yeah, everything's fine. I just wanted to, um, check on you," he stammered.

Catsy gave him a puzzled look. "Okay... thanks, I guess?" she said uncertainly. Her eyes narrowed while putting on a worried smile.

Ken let out a sigh of relief. "Great, great. I'm just gonna grab a drink, okay?" he said quickly, grabbing a juice box and heading for the door. That was the fourth juice box. What a kid.

As he left the room, Catsy couldn't shake the feeling that something was off between them. But she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was.

After Ken silently left the room, he quickly returned with washcloths and female hygiene products. "Catsy, take a quick shower and then we need to talk," he said urgently.

Catsy was taken aback by his sudden change in demeanor. "What's going on, Ken?" she asked, feeling a knot form in her stomach.

Ken showed her to a guest closet filled with clothes and then hurried her to a separate room. "We need to talk about what happened at the museum," he said, looking at her with concern.

Catsy felt her heart race and her palms sweat. "What did you see?" she asked nervously. "Where am I?"

"In one of my guest rooms at my house," Ken responded nonchalantly while signaling for her to drink the water as he gulped a soda after finishing the juice box in half a second. But, unfortunately, the soda can didn't last much longer.

"Why didn't you take me to the hospital when you found me?"

Ken raised an eyebrow. "Because then they would've requested that I see a doctor too... and I can't do that right now."

Catsy felt an involuntary twitch at his answer. She put away her claws.

Ken walked out before she could say anything and came back with washed clothes and female hygiene products. "Go take a shower. We'll talk after you're cleaned up."

Ken helped her up and patted her shoulder. "I didn't see anything, but we need to make a plan," he said, his eyes bright with determination.

Catsy couldn't help but feel grateful for his help and confused by his urgency. "What plan?" she asked, wanting answers.

Ken didn't answer. He just walked out wordlessly.

Ken walked out before she could say anything and came back with washed clothes and female hygiene products. "Go take a shower. We'll talk after you're cleaned up."

There was something cold about Ken that she wasn't used to coming from him. At school, he was always warm and friendly, albeit selfish, and had this wall that no one could overcome. Catsy wondered if this was his true face, the boy, when no cameras or fans were around.

Pointing to his left, Ken said, "My mother packed tons of clothes for guests when they'd come and visit. I'm sure there's something in there for you to change in." He walked over to the bookcase and then made a right to a door that Catsy hadn't noticed the first look through the room and opened. "When you're done, come in here."

She felt nervous and couldn't explain why. Did Ken see her in action at the museum? His actions weren't making sense to her. Even with his excuse for not taking her to the hospital, it just didn't seem logical. As long as she'd known him, he was always practical, sometimes overly so.

She looked down at herself and saw that her clothing was tattered and burned, yet she somehow appeared unaffected. Maybe he thought... I'm not human. She chuckled nervously at the thought.

She was going to take a shower and change, but she wasn't going to stay. That just seemed like something someone naively would do, thinking so-called friends would protect them.

She grabbed a plain T-shirt, black jeans, a hat, and sunglasses. Looking around more, she saw some face masks that were black and would cover half of her face. In case anyone came looking for her, she didn't need anything to make her obvious.

She quickly took a shower and changed in less than five minutes, then walked out of the room to see a boy with caramel-colored skin, hazel eyes, and a smile that could melt even the iciest of hearts looking at her thoroughly amused.

She felt her entire body go hot and her legs crumple underneath her. The young male caught her before she could fall. "Sorry..." he was American. "I didn't think my cousin would have a girl in his house with Aunt Tiffany gone."

As if on cue, Ken came running out of the room with the least cool expression Catsy had ever seen him. His eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his socket and his hands mechanically trembled at their sides while his cheeks puffed up like a five-year-old ready to cry. "So not cool, bro!"

The cousin sighed as he lifted Catsy to her feet and helped pat her shoulder off. "What are you talking about?" His eyes lit up with a Siamese cat with a plan in motion. "I was just coming to get my stuff set up in my room."

"Wai...what?!" Clearly, this was news to Ken. "I didn't say you could stay here."

Haji laughed as he threw one arm over Catsy's shoulder. "Sorry, you shouldn't have to see this side of our family." His cologne smelled as good as he looked. "By the way, let's be friends. I'm moving out here and will be going to Knight Academy starting tomorrow." His voice seemed so genuine, and despite his mature looks, he appeared young and fun.

"My name is Haji." He paused, then smiled this dorky smile that told Catsy a joke that he knew wasn't funny was about to be said. "It's Haji Escuro Espirito."

"Dark Spirit?!" Catsy translated his middle and last name instinctively.

He smiled, but this time, Catsy noticed that his jovial manner never quite met his eyes. "Yes!" He took his arm away from her shoulder. "You speak Portuguese?"

Catsy laughed. "Only a tad bit. Can't get me into a full conversation. I'd get lost." Most Knights pick up on language without trying. But, honestly, it's the first I've heard the words before.

Haji smirked. "You go to Knight Academy. That means, you pick up stuff probably pretty quickly, eh?"

Ken sighed while the two went on in a conversation as if he wasn't there as he sat back and leaned against the door behind Catsy. He listened intently to the workers in the house, some cleaning and others cooking. He stared at his hands, wondering why the explosion happened and why he survived when he and the three others (Mis'o'chi, Melanie, and Brace Girl) were where the fire started in the museum.

This wasn't the first time something like this happened. Ken remembered falling and landing on a spike beneath him and the fire consuming his entire body along with Mis'o'chi and Melanie. He threw Brace Girl out of the way before the fire came up, and the ground fell from beneath them. He could remember seeing other people screaming. His stomach began healing immediately when he removed himself from the spiked edge. A blue light surrounded Mis'o'chi while Melanie somehow stood directly in the fire, somehow unaffected, not even scared. She didn't even seem shocked by Ken's lethal wound healing in front of her.

He and Mis'o'chi both seemed confused and agreed without words to talk about it later. They just nodded, and somehow he knew that they just needed to get out of that situation. With strength beyond what he knew, he carried Catsy home, avoiding any of the workers in the house.

He wondered if Mis'o'chi got back to the school dorms okay or was she like him and lived off campus.

Maybe it was proof that those nightmares he had as a child weren't just bad dreams. Perhaps they were memories that his mother tried to protect him from.

Maybe he had a good reason for creating a world in his mind that only he could get to, and no one could tell him that the memories there were wrong.


Melanie did the only thing she could when she left the museum. She called her mother despite being out of the country, but as always, her mom had a plan of action. Before she could get off the phone, a car was there to pick them up: Melanie, Mis'o'chi, and a boy whose hair was black ten seconds ago and was suddenly blonde, and those emerald colored eyes turned a brighter blue than the morning sky.

Mis'o'chi was clearly moving on instinct, but her eyes showed more fear than Melanie could ever recount her having since she's known her. Her face was unusually expressive; her eyes clouded with a deep tension, tears forming but not coming out, and her entire body shaking.

They both should've never made it out alive. Ken neither, but Melanie had no reason to believe they would die. The girl, Nyanko, had been standing there with them when the fire came up through the ground, and the floor caved in. Ken pushed her out of the way, but Melanie saw the fire overtake her before she could run. She may not have fallen, but there was no doubt that she didn't survive. She was human, after all.

That fire wasn't by any normal means, that Melanie was sure. It moved differently, burned at a temperature that scorched even without touching, and it indeed had a spirit.

The driver was silent. He was a friend of her mother's, a man her father had hated for as long as she could remember. He appeared young, much like her mother and Tiffany Sun. They all seemed to have this inability to age physically. Melanie has to wonder if she would be the same.

Her father was human; according to her mother, there was no mistaking it. Her maternal grandmother nearly abandoned her daughter for falling in love with a le gringalet. Most Knights referred to humans by that term. The boy next to Mis'o'chi was clearly an Awakened Knight. However, it would be hard to get that information out of him before her mother returned from Paris, which was less than a thirty-minute flight back to Knight Island.


Big Bertha was already in front of the school dorms, her meaty arms crossed over her flat chest. She raised an eyebrow as her twin came out of the limousine, holding a male by her side who appeared to be barely breathing.

Her big cheeks scrunched up in annoyance while her tiny lips pursed together. She blew a big bubble of gum, which popped loudly like a gunshot. But, of course, that could've just been Mis'o'chi's imagination:

Mis'o'chi immediately felt better seeing B.B. on the scene. She never called her the name everyone else called her as she had realized it was a nickname and not her real name. While Big Bertha never came to give her the name she was birthed with, Mis'o'chi still couldn't get rid of the notion that the nickname was a cruel joke that stayed.

Big Bertha and Melanie were identical twins, but they almost looked nothing alike. Mis'o'chi guessed it had to do with epigenetic marks turned on and off with them… or something. Their only similarity was their father's bluish-green eyes; beyond that, they didn't even look like family. Melanie inherited her mother's Marilyn Monroe-ish looks and was as curvy as she was beautiful but a tomboy to boot.

On the other hand, Big Bertha was a confident big-boned woman. She'd been overweight her entire life; Mis'o'chi heard she came out at a whopping 17 pounds and 11 ounces. B.B. was shorter than Melanie but still taller than Mis'o'chi though not by much. Her eyes were small like her mouth, but her nose was bulbous, and prominent puffy cheeks were like a chipmunk. Since she was constantly chewing gum, it looked like she was permanently storing food in them.

"Move it, fat ass!" She called out, breaking Mis'o'chi's train of thought. "Ma say we need ta git him out of the public as soon as possible and as quiet as possible."

Melanie rolled her eyes. "And announcing that is the perfect way to do as she says, eh?" The taller twin inquired with a sharp tongue.

Big Bertha clicked her tongue and laughed. "Probably not the smartest thing I did today?" She smiled and slapped Melanie in the back the way she always did.

Mis'o'chi found herself again wishing she had a sister growing up. Someone like her. She always wanted someone she could talk to, joke with, and not feel like an outsider.

Big Bertha turned her attention to Mis'o'chi and nodded. "Do you mind if we use your dorm..."

Mis'o'chi's eyes widened. She was never there anyways. Her foster parents only allowed her to stay in the school during the off chance that they would be home for more than a few days. "It's fine. I'm staying at the dorm this week, but he shouldn't be here long, right?"

Big Bertha didn't answer. Instead, she shrugged her shoulders and massaged it, then looked to Melanie as if expecting her to have an answer. "What our ma say?" Her thick French accent made her English hard to understand, and it was clear that it wasn't her first language by a long shot.

Before Melanie could answer, Mis'o'chi looked frantically at her ringing phone and nearly dropped it. Big Bertha couldn't help but notice the initials KIPD. "They still got cha by da throat, eh?!" She clicked her tongue in annoyance. "Enculer, those idiots need to, how do you say in English, eh... brûle en l'enfer?!"

Burn in hell, Mis'o'chi mentally translated but then heard the man on the other line say, "Did I hear someone say that we need to go to hell for our arrangement with you, little girl?"

The blue-haired teen shook her head, mentally slapping herself because they couldn't hear a head disagree. "Non," she lied then put up one finger to tell Big Bertha to quiet down while the latter kept screaming profanities about how the government is corrupt. Melanie soon joined her. The alto and soprano voices chorused in the background. At the same time, Mis'o'chi moved away from them and texted them to take the boy to her room until their mother arrived.

The twins smiled a devilish smile then hurried into the building.

"We need you at the museum."

Of course, they needed her.

"There were seven deaths and sixty-six injured at the museum. Most of them were students from Knight Island Institute and Academy."

Mis'o'chi stared at her phone in disbelief as he requested to FaceTime with her. She hadn't even washed the ash off her face or the blood on her shirt.

She pressed decline,then got a message from the department chief to FaceTime right now. Taking out her handbag, she grabbed some baby wipes and cleaned her face then grabbed the extra white plain t-shirt she had bundled in her bag and threw it over what she was already wearing. Before her head could get through the hole, a call came through.

She waited for it to ring three times before stepping away and answering the phone. "This is Mis'o'chi Light."

"You may be the smartest girl I know, but you ain't got no social skills with adults." The man on the other line snorted. "We on FaceTime, sweetie. I know who you is."

Who you are, Mis'o'chi mentally corrected. "Sorry, it's a habit."

"Why didn't you answer the FaceTime the first time? We were already on the phone so you can't say it's because you didn't catch it... then it seems you hung up."

Mis'o'chi hadn't even realized that she had hung up the phone. In fact, she was sure that it was just her instincts on overdrive. "Sorry. I think the call dropped." I'm lying again... just like with Grandma. I hate this...

"People don't do that for no reason, yanno? There has to be a reason."

Because you guys already accuse me of everything... or because I'm an easy target. Mis'o'chi faked a laugh then smiled. "No, nothing like that. I was just really shocked by the information you told me. I'll be there in a moment."

"Miss Light, Officer Athil is here. He wants me to pass a message to you." There was a pause as Mis'o'chi's smile suddenly went from fake to real almost instantly. "He said to be careful."


Melanie watched Mis'o'chi leave the dorms from the balcony of her best friend's dorm.

"They really treat their so-called elite students special, yes?" Big Bertha said as she finished the fresh Orange Juice that the staff had probably delivered in the morning.

Melanie nodded. Mis'o'chi's room was luxurious and made to look like a place for royalty. Her tv was inside the wall and probably more prominent than in some movie theatres.

The kitchen was fit for a five-star restaurant even though the student staying there couldn't boil an egg, even if it meant saving her life.

If only the article about the girl with the highest IQ ever recorded mentioned how awkward and all the everyday things that she couldn't do, there probably wouldn't be so much stuff put on her shoulders.

"If cha work hard, you can have place like this too?"

Melanie nodded though she found it funny that her mother's right-hand child who never had to work for anything, talked about her working harder.

"Mis'o'chi's smart. Very smart. Melanie, you are even smarter."

Melanie laughed at the compliment as she took the young man on her shoulder and laid him down on the couch.

Big Bertha opened up the cookie jar. There was heat still coming from the fresh cookies delivered. The smell of chocolate filled the air as she took three, then four, put them in a zip loc bag for later then grabbed some more to eat now. "He looks different than he did earlier." She said plainly, then coughed as she almost choked on her snack, quickly grabbed some milk, and started drinking directly from the cart.

There was a pause.

Melanie looked back at the male and nearly screamed. She could've sworn the boy looked like Ken back at the museum.

"Fat Ass!" Big Bertha shrieked as Melanie turned to her as if that was her name. "You grabbed the wrong guy?" She said the last part in French.

"N-No!" What the fucking hell?! She scrambled through her brain, trying to remember if she ever put him down, then grabbed some other weak-ass male willing to let a girl take him away. "He musta!"

"Merde! Ya see this is why Mutta tells me things and not you?!"

"Are you really starting this now?! Seriously, learn some English before you start screaming at me in the language!"

"Va te faire enculer!" Big Bertha screamed at the top of her lungs, tears shimmering and coming down her eyes. She was always the more sensitive one.

"No, you're the one that needs to go fuck yourself!"

"Tête de nœud! You really are! An idiot!"

"Coming from the girl who couldn't pass the exams to attend this school?! You must be looking to be a comedian."

"Excuse me..." A deep Scottish voice filled the room. "My dears." He opened his green eyes and looked back and forth at the both of them, then at the mirror, and sighed. "Ah, I see... my appearance changed." He smiled and seemed like a person used to this being normal. "You must be Seers for this to have happened without my permission." He put his hand through his now brownish locks as he stood up.

He turned to Melanie, and his smile got brighter. "Mademoiselle! It is you! You're still alive."

Big Bertha looked at Melanie, confused. "Do I need to knock him out for you?"

Melanie looked at her sister and laughed. However, her twin was dead serious.

"Célestine!" His eyes became wet, and his face seemed almost relieved while looking at Melanie. "I'm happy that you're okay... and it seems I wasn't locked away long. You may not recognize me, but it's probably only been a few months to a year..."

Our mom's name... he thinks I'm my mom? Melanie looked over at her twin, and for once, she could tell she was thinking the same thing. What the hell is going on here?

"It's me, Lucas; the girl with blue hair, a friend of yours, I assume, freed me."

"Mis'o'chi?" They asked in unison aloud. Melanie propped a hand over her mouth in utter shock while Big Bertha backed away and walked back towards the kitchen though Melanie knew it was not for a cookie.

Big Bertha grabbed onto a cleaver, and her eyes steeled.

Lucas stared at Melanie, then Big Bertha, and sighed. "Well, on closer inspection, you are definitely not my dear Célestine…" These dears are far too wild though their aura is so similar. Can they also be hidden in a form that is different from their own? He touched his neck where that girl's sword had earlier cut him and saw that it had already healed itself, but he could still feel a burning sensation on him.

He stood up and smiled. "I should be going then." He started for the door, but before he could get close, the big girl ran forward with the cleaver in her hand, going for his throat.

"I can't let cha go…" Big Bertha growled as she swung over and over at him until he caught it midair, then pressed onto the blade as it began to vibrate, then shatter into thousands of tiny pieces.

"I do not wish to harm you, but I will be honest… if I have to kill, you won't be my first… and certainly not qualified to be even an exciting kill with a weakling woman like you." He slammed his fist into a pressure point near her shoulder, and then karate chopped at another pressure point at her neck. Despite his slender form, he effortlessly picked her up, then threw her to the side, her body landing on her much smaller twin.

Melanie struggled to push the bigger twin off her as the latter finally shook off the shock of being thrown and rolled off her. They watched as silver pieces of the cleaver began to reform in the air and the eyes of Lucas turned as white as snow. A devilish smile crossed his lips as his shoulder-length brown hair began to flow in the air as a cold rush of wind picked up in the room.

The cleaver became full and floated next to Lucas as he took a finger and slid it across the blade. "Seems a bit dull for a young girl to try and pierce a man through… but maybe with my power, it could do a bit more damage." He laughed.

He pointed the blade toward them. "Should we test it?"

Big Bertha stood in front of Melanie. "I-I won't let you hurt my sister. She, yah know, had nothing to do with what I was trying to do."

Melanie stood up with a grunt and pushed Big Bertha with all her might to the bed, her knees shaking. "She's an idiot." The younger and smaller of the twins may not like that her sister was always the favorite. Still, she couldn't imagine her mother's broken heart if she allowed her big sister to die for them both.

And most likely for nothing. "Big Bertha is human and therefore weak," Melanie said, exasperated, then giggled. "I am much more fun to play with if this will be your first in a while." She winked as she pulled off her jacket, threw it on her sister, and pulled the bottom part of her shirt out of her pants.

She loosened her every muscle until it felt like mush, but before she could move for him, he was already in front of her and threw a punch straight into her gut. Her body flew back into the wall, feeling like she'd been hit by a truck.

If she hadn't relaxed her body, she was sure the attack would've broken every muscle. It was a strange defensive technique that her teacher taught her when she was young, but she needed to go into offense and hope it would be enough time to allow her sister to make way for it.

Big Bertha grabbed the jacket and wrapped it around Lucas's head as Melanie took that opportunity to use the wall as leverage and jumped forward, then caught him by his knees and knocked him to the ground.

Once face planted, she started to kick him in his back, then his neck, and go for the back of his head. The first two attacks landed, but he turned around quickly and grabbed her foot before it could hit. Big Bertha, who had been given the sign to run, jumped at him, but he threw his palm forward, and it seemed like an energy blast threw her back into the large vanity mirror behind her.

With one hand on her foot, Lucas lifted Melanie like it was nothing and slammed her entire body into the ground three times, then grabbed her by her left breast then, sending an energy blast into her body that found itself on top of her older twin sister.

"The redhead was right…"

The glass from the mirror shattered and pierced into both girls. Melanie tried to scream, but blood shot out of her mouth.

"This was, unfortunately, a bit less fun than I imagined…"

The cleaver was still hanging in the air but was now facing the way of the girls again. "Time to end this…"

The cleaver flew towards them but stopped midway and dropped to the ground.

"Lucas…" a voice that all three recognized spoke as a woman entered the room. She was a reflection of the twin on top, but she appeared to be possibly in her thirties.

"Célestine… I knew you'd come." Lucas's expression completely changed. A smile that could light up even the heavens and change hell into a place of comfort.

She snapped her fingers, and the cleaver disappeared, and the room began to heal itself. "Get up," she growled at her daughters while keeping her eyes on the teenage male in the room.

Melanie and Big Bertha sat dumbstruck as their mother walked over to the male and leaned over, and touched his face gently. Even from behind, she somehow seemed relaxed and calm. The girls hadn't moved from their spot but suddenly felt a soft and sweet energy cover them and wrap around them and lift them up. The power pulled at the glass and returned it back to the mirror, then stopped with Melanie but continued to heal Big Bertha completely.

While Melanie was mildly healed, Big Bertha seemed to be treated entirely.

She somehow could see a bluish-pink hue covering her then a word in an ancient language began to wash over her body. Melanie recognized the words immediately. It was the language of the indigenous people, the Awakened Knights, a people of Miracles and Eternal Dreams.

Surai anto alisho no cami, Melanie's eyes softened and felt a tear trying to come out but steeled her expression.

"Ah!" Lucas exclaimed. "I see you still don't trust me…"

Big Bertha passed out, the power coming over probably being too much for her.

"Why do you say that?" Melanie asked, wondering if he could read and see what she saw too. She was sure that he'd be able to understand it more than she did… and maybe… just maybe she was wrong.

She hoped to whatever god that was out that she misunderstood it.

He smiled devilishly. "You saw it too, didn't you?" He laughed. "Your mother didn't imprint on you the same way… maybe your mother just trusts your ability to survive more."

Melanie kept quiet and waited for her mother to respond and say something to confront his words.

"My love is a protection and a guard." Her words only confirmed the meaning of the ancient language. "It's a barrier protection for her. My soul and spirit will always protect her."

Melanie looked away, unsure how to react to that. "Sounds smart to me, ne?" Her lips trembled despite the smile planted on her face.

Her mother finally looked away from Lucas and smiled at her daughter. "Oui, my love." Her warm smile made Melanie uncomfortable. She wasn't used to this look. At least not when the smile was aimed at her.

Lucas winked at Melanie. "Maybe I should make a protection barrier for you now that I know you're related to my first love." His devilish smile never went away from his eyes.


Officer Athil was a tall and lanky fellow. His skin was slightly tan and his eyes were a dark reddish brown color. He didn't smile often, but Mis'o'chi saw it once and made it a goal to see it again one day. Like his name, he was "firmly rooted" in justice and it was apparent in every action the man took even in his everyday life.

He smirked when he saw Mis'o'chi coming towards him. It was as close to a smile as Mis'o'chi guessed she would ever get from him. Awkwardly, she extended her hand out then bowed, staying in that position until he shook her hand and spoke. However, he didn't shake her hand nor did he ask to get out of that position. Instead, he turned to another man and shook his hand and said something about how he will handle dealing with "the youngster."

Mis'o'chi bit her lip and hoped that he didn't notice how awkward she was.

A deep bellow of laughter came out from an officer behind her.

"The Youngster got a thing for Athil, doesn't she?"

Athil looked down at Mis'o'chi and sighed. "Don't worry about the others."

Mis'o'chi nodded. She never knew what to say around him. It was only around him that she felt like a child. True, she was young; even so, being a child genius, adults tended to treat her as if she were somehow different from