Chapter 3: Friends and Enemies:

Everything was dark, even the areas that should have been illuminated were hard to see. It wasn't right. The scenery was different than how it should have been, how it had been, it was wrong. She didn't remember it being that dark before. Before, she could clearly see the face of the man that was pointing the weapon at her. Even the woman holding her was dark, a figure that appeared to be made of shadows and didn't appear to bear a face. That was also wrong, she knew that. The woman always had a face, one that she loved with everything part of her being. It was one that she had scarred and burned, killing the owner of it in the process. Voices were muffled, inaudible, or simply just jumbled, she couldn't decide, and it didn't matter much in the end. No matter how the voices appeared, the simple truth was that she couldn't understand them. But she had been able to before, she remembered the words spoken, and had heard them almost every night. "Why is tonight different?" she asked herself. "What is happening?" her voice asked. That too wasn't normal. She had not spoken, not like that. The voice was different from how it was in the dream. It was older and said different words.

"Where am I?" she asked. The sound of a gun's hammer pulling back cut off her thoughts. Her head turned to see the weapon, but she could still not make out the man holding it. The gun however, was clear as day. It was the only thing in the scene that she could make out without difficulty. "Fath…" she started, her voice youthful, and ignorant. A gunshot exploded in the silent night. The disrupted voices vanished and the only sound was humming. It was a loud and intrusive buzzing that made her feel tingly and numb, as if her body was falling asleep. A web of blue currents was spread around in front of her cowering body. She felt no pain, nor did she understand what was happening. "I was supposed to be hurt. That is how it always goes. That is how it went." she said. "There was another attack last night, one that left one student dead and another injured. It was in an alley of District-B, near the corner of Holeson and Rue. Unfortunately, the suspect of these attacks was not apprehended but…" There was the sound of static and then the only clear voice vanished in an instant.

"Attack?" she questioned, walking towards the location of the previous noise. An old television was sitting atop a stool against a junk-filled corner. It sparked and more whitenoise came from the ancient speakers. A picture soon appeared, one that displayed a young girl, a child, lying next to a charred corpse. A man was close by and was lying on his back, twitching uncontrollably as blue light coursed around him like a spider spinning him an electrical cocoon. The image rewinded so that the scene she remembered so well was now visible. A child, taking a small step away from her mother. "A mistake." she thought. "That one step was the most stupid thing she could have done." Just as the girl was clear of her mother, a loud crack filled the air. The girls stumbled backwards, both the one on the screen, and the one watching it. There was an explosion of light but only on the television. The observing girl simply fell back, clutching a blooming flower of crimson near her stomach.

There was another gunshot and she had to gasp for air. Just under her right breast began to grow damp. A large stain of red started to form in her shirt and her breathing, while hastening, became less effective. She closed her eyes from the pain and then heard another muffled voice call out to her. "...ain. Ferain Hirigaya, I need you to wake up. Ferain." The voice grew steadily more clear as the seconds rolled on. "My name." she recalled. The blood vanished but the pain remained behind as her eyes opened. Her head felt like it was going to explode, or like it already did. Her hands found the scar near her stomach, feeling around for any signs of blood. A long breath left her mouth as her eyes closed again. Relieved, Fera tried to sit up. To her surprise, she was successful in the endeavor. She saw a man standing beside her bed, one dressed in a fine suit of black, and donning a golden badge on the front of his waist.

Beside him was a man in white, a tablet in his hands. He was tapping away and mumbling to himself while the man in black only had eyes for her. "Ms. Hirigaya, how are you feeling?" "She will be a little dizzy for a while but the concussion should pass. Her body is healing pretty quickly so she should be at a hundred percent within a few hours." said the doctor. "She's healing that fast?" asked the man in black. "It's her powers I suppose. The electricity in her body is somehow kicking her healing into overdrive. I hate to say it but that is actually a good thing because we couldn't get near her with any of our equipment." explained the man in white. "Why is that?" the black one asked. "Also due to her powers. Whenever we tried to touch her, it would arc out and shock whoever was closest. We couldn't even give her any medication to help with her pain." "I am right here." she said, her voice raspy from her dry throat.

"Good for you." said the doctor, his attention still focused on the tablet. Fera gave him a disgruntled look before turning her gaze to the man in black. "Ms. Hirigaya, I need to ask you some questions," he said. "I am Officer Ken Hatsui, I am a cop stationed here for the time being. Do you remember anything from last night?" he asked her. "Last night? I think I remember hitting my head." she said, feeling the bandages that were wrapped around up there. "Anything else, any person or suspicious activity? Any single thing that you can remember may help me so don't hold any information back." She strained her memory but the most she could recall was a shadow and a flash of blue light. After that, she must have hit her head and then there was only darkness. "And that dream." she reminded herself, trying to cling tightly to the fading memory of what she had dreamt.

"Sorry, Officer, I can't remember anything too useful. I saw some kind of shadow. I might have seen it and got scared which made me trip over something. I don't think there was anything else. I heard some noises in the alley too but nothing besides." she explained. The officer had a defeated expression on his face but it was not unkind as he looked down at her. "Very well, I am sorry to bother you just as you are waking up. Unfortunately, that is how dire this situation is. Another student was found dead in that alley and I was hoping you might have seen something. Don't blame yourself, kid, I hope you can accept my apology for the disturbance." She nodded and watched the officer leave the room. "That man has no decency." said the doctor. "Says the man that acted as if I was invisible." she thought, staring daggers at the man in white. "Well, as I said, your injuries are healing quite rapidly on their own so you should be out of here within the next couple of hours. I'll leave you to yourself as I go tend to the two doctors that got injured while trying to help you this morning." He gave her the most feigned smile she had ever seen and left the room shortly after.

Fera shook her head and turned her eyes to gaze out of the nearby window. From her window, she could only see the districts of the ship. None of the ocean was visible due to the rising towers and border walls between the separated areas. "Sometimes I forget we're on a boat." she mumbled. A faint creaking from a door swinging open caught her attention. Fera's head turned and she saw Anita standing in the doorway, one hand on the handle, and the other gripping the strap of her shoulder bag. "Is it alright if I come in?" Anita questioned. Fera found this odd, the girl had hardly asked for permission when it came to anything. Mostly, Anita did what she wanted and roped others into it without a care. "Of course you can. Are you okay?" Fera inquired. Anita closed the door and sat in a chair by the window. Fera watched her carefully but couldn't make out whatever it was the girl was feeling. "Anita?" she asked softly. Her roommate didn't meet her eyes, instead choosing to stare down at her hands as her fingers intertwined with each other in her lap.

"Are you okay?" Anita asked. Her voice was timid, almost eerily so. "According to the doctor I will be. My body is apparently healing itself and he said I should be good in a couple of hours. Truth be told, my head is already starting to feel better and I don't even feel the bruises from yesterday anymore. What about you though, what happened?" Anita shook her head and stared even further down so Fera could only see the top of her head. The girl's light hair fell loosely around her face, hiding it from sight. "I'm sorry. Last night, I… I'm sorry for everything. I shouldn't have done that, it was uncalled for, and then leaving you… I don't know what I was thinking. It was late and we should have walked back together. If I was with you then you wouldn't have gotten hurt but I ran off like an idiot, all because of something I did. I wasn't thinking clearly and I shouldn't have…" "Anita." said Fera, interrupting her. "It's okay. I can't understand why you did what you did, but you don't need to be sorry about it. It was the first time I have received anything resembling affection since I got my powers. My mother hugged me sometimes but there was always fear there. I didn't feel any fear in you. You touched me, kissed me, without any hesitation.

I'm confused, but I'm far from upset. And leaving me, well, it was an awkward moment and I don't blame you for that. Anyway, it all turned out fine. I'm here and mostly uninjured so it's all good." Fera said, forcing her best smile. "So you're not mad at me, for any of it?" "No, I'm not. How could I be? Even if I wanted to be mad, I let it happen. It was dangerous but I didn't fight you off of me. I didn't stop you from leaving either, even if I wanted to. I'm just as much at fault so don't beat yourself up." Anita's face blushed so brightly as she looked up and brushed some hair behind her right ear. Some loose hair still fell back near her cheek and the sun coming in from the window gave her a beautiful aura of morning light. "Did you like it?" Anita asked. Her voice was nearly inaudible and yet, Fera could hear it replay in her mind so clearly. "Did I?" she asked herself. She looked away, unable to keep herself from blushing so she decided to hide her face the best she could.

"I didn't hate it." she answered, her tone just as quiet as Anita's had been. The girl's head bobbed and she raised her body to a straighter position. "So, are you going back to class after this or taking the rest of the day off?" Anita asked. Fera was once again thrown for a loop. She could tell that Anita was trying to shift the topic but still, it took her by surprise. "What did I expect? Did I want her to do it again? Maybe a little, but that ship is gone now." Fera swallowed and found herself feeling disappointed. "Y-yes." she managed to say. "Yes to what, silly?" "Ah, uhh, I…" Fera's hand reached up for her earring and found it still there, just where she had left it. The tiny jewel twirled in between her fingers as she looked downward. Anita began to giggle and Fera then saw the tension leave the girl's body. Whatever weight she had been carrying since walking in here was now gone. Anita seemed to be her normal self again, smiling and caring and a ball of collected sunshine that lit up any room she was in. Fera felt a tingling in her stomach and in her chest but it was not her power causing it this time. That was surprisingly quiet at the moment. This was something else entirely. "It feels the same as last night, when we kissed." she noted.

Anita looked like an angel in that instance. The sun behind her, the light dancing off of her streams of silver, her foggy eyes looking at her from behind some loose curls from her bangs, and the playful curve of her soft lips, a slight glimmer to them due to the lip gloss she used in the mornings. The uneasiness rose in her belly and she felt her head growing unreasonably warm. "Fera, you never answered me. What are you staring at?" "You." she wanted to say. She wanted to smile and to reply with some wonderful compliment and more than anything, she wanted another kiss. The tingling sensation of her powers intertwining with Anita came back to mind and it instantly gave rise to a hot, longing feeling in her body. Instead, Fera left her daydreams and memories to return to reality. Anita and her were roommates, friends, and Fera was dangerous besides. Touching people was dangerous. She knew that too well, and would not let another person get hurt because of carelessness. "Still, it felt nice to be touched, and loved." Her hand curled into a fist, tightening around a clump of her sheets.

"I, uhh, was thinking of going to school after." she finally said. "We've only had classes for one day so I wouldn't want to miss some already, it wouldn't look good for me." she explained. Anita laughed again. "No, not as a scholarship student. I think that would get you in even more trouble with the other students." "More trouble?" Fera questioned. "That's right, we didn't get the chance to talk about it. There were some words going around about you yesterday in my classes, disgruntled opinions if you will." "Like?" "Well, like what I told you about before. Some people think that you're just riding through, not putting in any real effort. Most of them think that a scholarship student should have been placed higher. If they aren't accusing you, then they're blaming the headmaster and calling him an idiot for accepting somebody like that. I think a lot of them are just jealous. Like I said, most people have to buy their way in or they are watched closely from childhood and have to work hard to earn their spot. You guys are different. You and the others are seen as taking shortcuts, avoiding the hard work and student fees, and jumping right into the deep end from the start. That's the way scholarships work here, there are no years of scouting or upfront payments, you take a single test and impress the headmaster and you're in. Most of the people here, myself included, could do that any given day, and do it quite easily. So when they see you as a lvl-4…" "They feel cheated." finished Fera. Anita nodded.

"I know why you hold back, but if you keep doing it, it might hurt you more in the end. The people here, they went through a lot and spent a lot of money, what you are doing is insulting to them and I don't think all of them will let it slide so easily. It's one of the reasons why I'm in such a hurry to train you, so you can defend yourself if needed. If somebody were to challenge you to a duel…" "Then I could always decline them." interrupted Fera. "That would also be a loss to you. That would make it seem that you don't see them as equal or worth the time or challenge. Or it could make you seem even more like a layabout that is just coasting through, both of which would only make matters worse." "It doesn't sound like there is any way to please these people." Fera said. "No, even if you were to jump up some ranks, it would only prove that you were holding back from the start, confirming everything they thought about you. It might make them more hesitant to fight you though." Fera sighed heavily and rubbed her forehead. "To tell the truth, Anita, I don't really care what they think. I'm here to learn, not to please the other students. As you said, I hold back for a reason, partly because I don't have full control of my abilities, I can't change that overnight. Last night, it…" She suddenly remembered the masked figure and his hand that had reached out and touched her. The flash of her power that exploded at the touch became much clearer. "What happened?" asked Anita.

"The killer, they touched me. I was scared and lost control as I fell. I don't know what happened to them since I hit my head, but that only proves my point. I'm too unstable to let it go." "It protected you." noted Anita. "But if I was in a sparring match and couldn't contain my abilities suddenly, that other person could be seriously hurt or even die. No, I'll stay a lvl-4 for the rest of my time here before I let that happen." "I guess there is no convincing you is there?" "Not in this, not at this time." Anita showed a face of resignation as she rose to her feet. "I know the doctor said a few hours but are you good to go now?" she asked Fera, who nodded in response. "I'm tired of this place." she said, swinging her legs out from under her sheets and over the edge of the bed. She was still in the track pants she had worn for her training the night before, but her jacket was gone. Instead, she only had on the white tank top that she had worn under the jacket.

"Over there." said Anita, pointing it out. "Ah, perfect." said Fera, moving to retrieve it. She found her bag next and pulled the jacket on. "Good to go." Fera said softly. It was a struggle to sign herself out at the desk but they eventually relented when the man in white from before came and practically threw her out. "You seem fine, get out now." he said as he pushed with one hand against her back and the other still clutching his tablet. The two glass doors slid shut with Fera and Anita on the other side of them. "Should we head home and change?" Fera looked down at her dirty blue tack suit and replied with a slight nod. In the end, she missed nearly half a day of school and was properly chastised for it by Ms. Yakuma. She wasted no time criticizing her, and continued to do so as the class moved out to the training yard. She was left out of the pairings today, and opted to sit under the shade of a tree. She saw Copper and his friend training together and noticed that the boy had something covering his right hand. "Bandages?" she questioned. A bright flash of blue came back to her and a thought formed in her mind. "It couldn't be, right? He's an ass but he wouldn't kill somebody, right?"

She wasn't so sure as she thought about it more. "He might've killed me yesterday if the teacher didn't interfere. Still, it couldn't be him." "Hirigaya." hissed a voice. She then noticed that somebody had appeared in front of her. The voice too was a dead giveaway. She looked up and saw Copper standing there, his hands on his hips as he looked down at her with disgust. "What happened to your hand?" she asked him. "A training mishap, but that isn't any of your business. Instead, why don't you clear something up for me? Last night, I heard that your victim put up quite a fight but it would seem that you are unscathed." "Victim? What are you talking about?" she asked him. "Don't play stupid, girl. We all know that it was you that killed that student last night. You were even found with his body right next to you. The whole school knows about it." "I was unconscious. Did I do that to myself then?" "Perhaps, to make it seem like you were a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time. In truth, he probably fought back and knocked you out somehow before he died." Fera gritted her teeth and shook her head. The humming in her started to buzz loudly but she forced it down.

"You're crazy enough for it too. We saw you yesterday, grabbing at your hair and talking to yourself." She growled before grabbing her bag and standing up. "I'm leaving." she said. Copper stomped his foot and a wall of earth appeared in front of her. "I want a confession, Hirigaya." The humming turned from an annoyance to a struggle to subdue. Her eyes narrowed and her teeth bared as she dropped her bag to the ground. "Oh, are you going to fight me instead? That didn't turn out so well for you yesterday, did it?" "Leave her alone, boys." said a girl that she also recognized by voice. It was the same girl that had chased after them after the level assignment tests. She had light chocolate colored skin and short brown hair. Her hazel colored eyes stared angrily at the boys as a stern expression found her face. "Chill, Amber, we're just playing," said Marrow. She had not noticed him before but he was there, hiding behind Copper. Copper shrugged his shoulders. "We're trying to catch the killer. You've heard the rumors, I'm sure, the ones that said she killed her family as a kid. If she did it once, why not do it again? This is all some kind of act to make people think she is weak, and then when their guard is down, she kills them as quick as a lightning strike." Copper said confidently.

"Ridiculous." snorted the girl in disapproval. "So you don't think it's her? Marrow asked. "She has given us no reason to believe it was her. Stop picking on her or I'll force you to leave her alone." "You and what powers?" the boy asked, smirking wickedly. "My powers, and I would have you know that they can be pretty dangerous. Get away now, go find somebody else to torment." "As you say, milady." said Marrow, bowing his head. Copper did a full on curtsy. "If my lady commands it." She swatted his arm with her bag and then struck him again for good measure as he walked by her. "You didn't have to do that." Fera said, her voice quiet and grim. "I did. If you would have fought him again, you would've only wound up hurt." Amber replied.

Fera gave her a somber glance as she lifted her bag from the dirt. "What does it matter to you?" Amber put her hands on her hips and scowled. "You don't need to be so rude, I was only trying to help you." Fera suddenly felt ashamed. "Sorry, I know that. It's been a rough couple of days and, well, you hang out with them and…" "So you expected me to act like them?" asked Amber, one eyebrow raising slightly. "Those guys are assholes and I never hung out with them." "But the other day you…" "I yelled at them and tried to tell them to go to their dorms. They, of course, didn't listen to me." Fera bobbed her head while shrugging the strap of her bag further up onto her shoulder. "Then I apologize for assuming things as well. Anyway, uhh, thank you. I'll be going now." Fera said softly, turning to walk away from the girl. "Are you doing anything later today?" Amber suddenly asked.

"I… Uhh, yeah, I have training. My roommate is helping me learn how to fight." "Do you have any free time before that?" "A little, why?" Fera questioned. "I was hoping you would go with me to a diner near my dorm in District-C. They have some good cupcakes there that are to die for." Fera raised a hand to her earring and looked towards the ground to avoid Amber's watching gaze. "I-I suppose I could." she said nervously. "Awesome, it would be nice to have another girl to hang with." Amber said as she took Fera's hand in her own. There was a slight zapping sound and Amber snatched her hand away. "Sorry, I don't like touching people. My powers like to act out sometimes." she said sheepishly. Amber waved her hand in front of her in a dismissing fashion. "It's no problem. I have to apologize as well for being so touchy, I've always been that way. Anyways, shall we go?" Ferain nodded, somewhat reluctantly, to the notion, and followed close behind Amber, constantly checking her watch for the time. Her eyes continuously gazed up at the sun to check its position and to gauge how long before darkness would fall. "I only have a couple of hours before training, will this take too long?" Fera asked.

"Not that long, I'm sure. I wouldn't want to keep you out too late anyways, not after what's been happening. Two attacks already, this is getting a little scary if you ask me. But no, it's a pretty short walk from District-A's border to District-C's, if you go straight across District-B that is. My dorm isn't too far into the district either so you should be back before nightfall. I just want to talk a bit." "I don't mean to sound ungrateful but we could've talked at the school, or we could talk now. We don't have to go to some diner to do that." Fera pointed out. Amber laughed into her hand and smiled back at Fera. "It's not just about talking though, it's about the fun of it. Have you ever gone to a store or a restaurant with your friends?" Fera's lips curled into a sick sort of smile. "No, never had the opportunity before now." Fera replied, avoiding the truth of never having a friend to do such things with.

"We will remedy that then. By the way, even though you probably already know, I'm Amber, it's a pleasure to meet you." The girl spun on her heels and walked backwards, holding out her hand. "Ah, right, I forgot." she said, giggling and spinning back around. "Ferain." Fera responded, her voice subtle and shy. "I like that name." Amber said. "My father was a writer and Ferain was the name of his most favorite character so he named me after her. He said that he had to argue with my mother about it but she eventually gave up." "That's pretty neat. Have you ever read his work?" Amber questioned. Fera's mouth opened to respond but nothing would come out besides a slight breath. After swallowing down her pain and memories, she found the ability to answer. "No, I was never able to bring myself to do it. I have them all in my room but I… I can't touch them." "Did you two fight or something?" "Don't act like you don't know the rumors, the boys even mentioned it back at the field." said Fera. "They did but those are rumors in the end." "Not completely. My father is alive but he is in a coma. There were circumstances but it was my power that did it. The same is with my mother, I did kill her." Fera looked away, feeling too horrible to even look at Amber and the disgust she knew the girl would be feeling.

"Why am I telling her so suddenly?" she asked herself. "I had tried to keep a secret from Anita so why am I being so open?" "I'm sorry you had to say that." Amber suddenly said. "Hmm?" "It's my power. People are forced to speak openly around me if I bid them to do it. I hate to admit it but my curiosity got in the way of my respect for your privacy. I never expected the rumors to be true so I thought you were just being shy about something. Sorry, I know you would have liked to keep that private, I can feel that. My true powers are that people can't hide anything around me. I can see their emotions, feel them even, and I can make them say the truth, no matter how badly they might want to hide it. Right now you are glowing with a blue aura, one that means sadness or regret. There are some other colors mixed in as well but that one is most prominent. I didn't mean to do that to you, I couldn't really help it though." "It's fine." Fera quietly stated. "It's not fine. Don't say that just to make me feel better." Amber declared stubbornly. "Really, it's okay." Fera said, waving her hands in front of her. Amber didn't seem convinced but she forced a cheerful expression and continued leading the way. They passed through the checkpoints into District-C and Fera saw more of the same when it came to architecture and layout. "I guess it's not much different from mine, huh?" she asked. "Not really. There's a few more shops and restaurants but it's primarily the same. It's like that in the rest of the districts as well.

The Olirian, and the other city-ships for that matter, are not like regular cities on the mainland. On the mainland of any nation, the cities are pretty varied and have slums and rich neighborhoods and everything that is in between, but this place only has this. The city-ships support a crew, the students, and that's about it, so they don't have a need for diverse districts. There are no poor or rich here, only students and working laborers, and the teachers too I guess. I read that the other ships are like this as well, with only some slight differences between them." Amber explained. "She sounds like Anita. Maybe I'm the only person here that is ignorant to all of this." she thought, feeling embarrassment wash over her. "Ah, we're almost there." Amber stated happily. They rounded a corner on the sidewalk and had turned onto a street of diners and shops. Neon signs hung above most doors with their names buzzing brightly in the lights. Some of the eateries had outdoor seating with a few tables and chairs set up under various colored umbrellas.

It was one of these places that Amber guided her to. They both sat down at a table that was situated under the cover of a red and blue umbrella. "We can save the cupcakes for after we eat a proper meal. I recommend the chicken salad. I tried it yesterday and fell in love with it." Amber said as she tapped a small bell in the middle of the table. A young woman with auburn hair and crystal blue eyes approached, wearing a black top and a skirt, and a red ribbon that was tied around the collar of the prior. Around her waist was a red sash that let a strand of crimson blow in the breeze by her right leg. "May I take your order, ladies?" the waitress asked. Amber gave Fera a curious look before grinning from ear to ear. "A chicken salad and a sweet tea please." Amber said. "And you, miss?" Fera glanced between the two girls and heard her humming growing louder in her body. She was uncomfortable, to say the least. Her whole body felt hot and she felt as if a million eyes were watching and judging her. "I don't belong here." she thought. "What she had will be okay." Fera said softly. She had said it so quietly that for a second, she thought the waitress did not hear her.

In the end, the girl bobbed her head and walked away, scribbling on the pad she carried with her. "You don't come to places like this often, do you?" "T-this is my first time actually." Fera replied with a nervous titter that followed the words. "You've never eaten out before?" "There might have been a few times before my powers came in, but not in recent memory, no." answered Fera. They sat in awkward silence until their food arrived. Amber was playing around on her phone while Fera gazed off in every direction, watching for nothing in particular. The action was primarily to keep her eyes and mind busy so she didn't have to focus too much on the strange quiet that had taken hold. "Here you go, girls." said the waitress, setting down two glass bowls that were filled to the brim. Next, she placed a glass in front of both girls and bowed her head. "Enjoy." With that, the waitress walked to another tablet to serve a pair of more recent guests.

"It looks good, huh? You should eat it while it's fresh. I promise that you'll like it." Amber said. Fera gave her an expressive flash of a smile before picking up her fork. "So, school has been pretty interesting so far, huh?" asked Amber. "I suppose so. It's not exactly what I expected it to be." Fera replied. "What did you expect?" "I thought things would be different here, not more of the same." "Do you mean bullying?" Amber asked. "Partially. Besides that though, I thought I would fit in a bit more here. Everybody here has powers and some are even more dangerous than my own. I assumed this would be a place where I could be myself and not become an outcast. Unfortunately, that seems to already be happening." "I take it that you weren't popular at your old school then?" said Amber. "I haven't been in school for years. I've been teaching myself most of the time and sometimes my grandmother would come over and help me study for things. I…" Fera suddenly closed her mouth and looked up at Amber, annoyance flashing on her face and a scowl finding her lips. "Sorry, sometimes it happens on its own." Amber said, apologetically.

Fera didn't know how much she believed that and Amber seemed to be able to sense the skepticism. "I'm telling the truth. If I get too curious about something, my ability sometimes activates on its own. It takes me a minute to realize if it had turned on or not, and sometimes I don't notice at all until the person looks at me the way you are now. It's hard to tell when somebody is choosing to be open or when I am making them. I've had some problems with that in the past. I have never lacked friends but I have lost some because of this power. They sometimes think that I'm manipulating them, or they at least feel that way, and I have no way to convince them otherwise since I myself don't always know." Amber quickly sipped from her tea and forced out a laugh. "It's not like I'm asking for pity or saying that I can relate to your situation, but I know to some extent what it's like to have no control over your power." "Your lack of control doesn't lead to people getting hurt," said Fera. "I have to disagree with you on that. They don't get hurt physically, but sometimes the invisible wounds are the ones that hurt us the worst. Most people like to keep their secrets until they are ready to share them. When I'm around, they don't always have a choice in that matter." Amber said, her voice growing more somber.

She hastily laughed again before nibbling on her food. Fera's eyes darted around uneasily before finding Amber again. "Why do this?" Fera asked her. "Why spend your time with me so suddenly?" "Because, you looked like you could use a friend. I know that I've been looking for one since coming here. You looked lonely and scared." "Your power?" asked Fera. "Of course. I guess getting accused of murder would do that to a person, especially one with your past. I wanted to give you a helping hand, and make a friend in the process." Amber explained while stabbing a piece of chicken with her fork. "You don't trust me, do you?" the girl questioned. "Not really. I keep waiting for some kind of trap but…" She stopped again and her eyes narrowed in anger. "Sorry, this time I wanted the truth. The truth hurts people, Ferain, but sometimes it is better to know it than to live in lies. I know where you stand and I know how you feel. It hurts, but I will live, and I will do so knowing the truth. I do hope we can be better friends someday. I pray that you will give me a real chance eventually." Amber said. Fera opened her mouth to speak but then she remembered Anita and her training lesson. "I have to go." she said, glancing at her watch. Amber nodded in a somber fashion. "Did you at least enjoy this little outing?" the girl asked. "It was nice. It was a new experience that I will remember, thank you. For what it's worth, trust can be earned, and I don't dislike you. I-I would like to hang out again." Fera said, her cheeks flushing.

Amber's expression lit up and she happily agreed. "We will then, I promise." she said in an elated tone of voice. Fera couldn't help but flash a genuine grin before grabbing her bag and leaving. As she was walking down the sidewalk and turned the corner she had rounded earlier, something had walked into her, or she had walked into something. There was a thud and she stumbled back from the unexpected impact. A hand reached out and grabbed her shoulder to steady her. Instinctively, Fera shook the touch off and her eyes found the face of another student, or that was what she assumed him to be. He wore the uniform and seemed young enough to be one. There was a shiver down her spine that started where his hand had been touching a moment before. It felt foreign, like something had invaded her body, but it had also disappeared too quickly for her to grasp the sensation.

"Are you okay?" the boy asked. His short black hair sat atop his head like a mess of spikes, as if he had just woken up minutes before and failed to tidy it up. His irises were a dark gray, much like Anita's, but there were flecks of blue mixed in with it, almost like a stormy sky that had some of the blue peeking through the cloud cover. "F-fine." she said. "Wait a minute, you're the lvl-4 prodigy I've been hearing about. Hmm, well, it was nice to finally meet you, Hirigaya, now I insist that you watch where you're going next time or you might get worse than a surprise." He shoved past her and continued on without giving her a second thought. Stunned by the random encounter, she again nearly forgot that she was going to be late for her session with Anita. Hastily, she collected herself and continued back into District-B and the gymnasium by her own dormitory. "Lvl-4 Prodigy? Hmm, that is an odd name." Anita said, after hearing what had happened from Fera. "He didn't seem happy to see me but I didn't even know him. I can't figure out what I did to make him mad. Besides that, he said the name in an almost mocking sort of way." said Fera, sitting cross legged on one of the wooden benches in the room. "Maybe it's like when somebody calls a big man Tiny or a small man Giant." suggested Anita.

"Perhaps, but why?" "Scholarship students are often seen as prodigies, and you're a lvl-4 scholarship student." "Does it always have to go back to that damn scholarship?" "Unfortunately, yeah, I think so." Anita said, not unkindly. Fera put her face in her palms and roared in frustration. "Maybe coming here was a mistake." she said, a moment later. "Ah, don't say that, Ferain, not everything has been bad. You met me, and I think I'm pretty great." Anita said, patting Fera on the back. Surprisingly, her powers did not act up or reach out to shock Anita. The girl was now gently rubbing her shoulder and felt nothing from the connection. "What is going on?" Fera looked up at her friend and saw a wide grin. "You're not getting hurt, are you?" she asked Anita. "No, should I be?" the girl replied. Even her humming had calmed down to near silence. In its place was the tingling feeling that resided in her stomach, and the fuzzy sensation in her chest. It was the same collection of feelings she had been experiencing whenever she was around Anita. "Ever since she kissed me it's been this way." She wondered if it would happen again, the kiss that was so sweet on her lips, the one that she had felt and remembered since it had happened the previous night. "You've been staring at me quite a bit tonight." Anita pointed out. Fera jumped and brushed a strand of loose hair behind her right ear, revealing the small crystal that hung there. "Sorry. Anyway, yes, you should be getting hurt. That is what normally happens. My power has been acting strange with you since last night. You shouldn't have been able to touch me like that, or like you are now, it isn't normal." Fera explained.

"Maybe you're getting better at controlling your abilities." Anita suggested while shrugging her shoulders. "I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. I don't feel like I'm getting better." "That's how improvement works. It happens at such a steady pace, you don't even realize it's happening. Well, it's either that or you don't get better at all which would kind of suck." Fera laughed and felt a hand wrap around hers. Naturally, she tried to pull it away but Anita only gripped it harder. "Come on, we have some more training to do before we have to head home." She nodded and accepted the offered help. Anita pulled out two collapsed batons and tossed them to Fera, who clumsily caught them. "I found them lying on your bed. Tomorrow, bring them with you and continue the homework I assigned." she instructed. Fera bobbed her head and pushed the buttons that ejected the extended ends of the weapons.

"First thing first, try to put some of your power into them, I want to see how they react." "What do you mean?" Fera questioned. "Some people use weapons as conduits for their abilities. I want to see if yours will gain some kind of electric effect. Theoretically, it should do just that but I'm not entirely sure." Fera gave the batons a glance before letting some of her power flow into the metal. They crackled in her hands, the blue static coursing around the weapons in a continuous flow of electricity. When she brought them next to each other, strands of the blue energy arced and connected the two rods, creating a web of power between them. A slight crack struck the air as she pulled them apart again. "Hmm, that's pretty cool. It might come in handy in some situations so don't forget to use your powers if needed. For now you won't need them so pull the plug and we can get started. Our first lesson will be for you to land a hit on me. I will be unarmed and you will come at me with the intent to win our little fight." "What if I succeed and hurt you?" Fera questioned. "Then that's all the better. I beat you up enough last night anyway so fair is fair. I should get some of what I dish out, right? I don't think you would like being the only one with bruises when we leave this place. Though, I don't believe I will have to worry so much right now, I doubt you will get a single hit." Anita declared, confidently.

"I bet otherwise." Fera said, brimming with her own kind of belief. She gave the batons a slight twirl in her hands and dropped the one in her left. While fumbling to keep her grip on it, the right one clattered to the ground. Anita turned her head and covered her mouth but Fera could still hear the muffled snicker from behind her palm. "How threatening." she then said with a large grin, not even trying to hide the amusement any longer. After nearly an hour and what felt like thousands of attempts, though she was sure that was an exaggeration, Fera had to admit her defeat. Anita had dodged or countered every swing Fera threw at her before handing out some helpful criticism. "You're too predictable. You swing too often with one hand over the other and you leave yourself too open when you attack. You don't move enough and when you do, they are too telegraphed. Normally I have to watch people's eyes and the very minute movements of their muscles to see what they're going to do but with you I can tell from a mile away." Anita's judgement wasn't unwanted, Fera actually enjoyed receiving it.

It was nice to have somebody teaching her this instead of leaving her to flail around on her own, especially if fighting was going to be a mainstay in this school. She had read some details about the academy before coming here but fighting was an unexpected surprise when she had finally arrived. The two were back near the bench and collecting their things. Fera had her hair tied up into a tail and was patting a towel against her face and cheeks to mop up the sweat that ran down it. She was wearing a sleeveless shirt with a pair of track pants. The exposed skin of her neck, face, and arms all glistened as the moisture on her body reflected the gym's lights. An exhausted breath passed her lips as she covered her face with the dampening cloth. Fera felt eyes on her but she made no movements to hint that she had noticed. Anita was casting glances at her but would quickly look away whenever she thought Fera was about to turn her head.

It made a smile curl her lips but she quickly forced them back to their usual flat line. There was no trouble that night on their walk and Anita, like usual, talked most of the walk back while Fera continued her own custom of remaining silent. Some words of agreement or signs to show that she was listening left her occasionally, but most of the time she enjoyed listening. It was always better that way, even more so with somebody like Anita, who loved to talk about anything and everything. Food, the weather, her favorite pairs of clothes, opinions on other students and the classes so far, she would go on and on, and Fera would keep her ears open to take it all in. If this bothered Anita in any way, she didn't seem to show it, so Fera enjoyed this time they spent together.

They entered their apartment and Anita tossed her bag onto the floor by the door. "So, who gets the first bath?" "You can." said Fera. "Really? Hmm, I feel kind of bad, making you wait and all. We could share it if that's okay?" Fera quickly shook her head and waved her arms. "N-no, I can wait. There isn't a lot of room in the shower so I don't think we would fit." "Shower? Ah, so you take those. I take them sometimes but I always find that a bath is more relaxing." said Anita. "I take baths too." Fera stated in an almost defensive tone, as if she was being attacked. "I was only joking, Fera. We do have a bath and a shower though, so we could still technically…" "No, we can't." Fera said, interrupting her roommate with a stubborn conclusion to the conversation. Anita smiled and accepted Fera's denial before turning and heading towards her room. "I shouldn't have snapped like that." she thought as she headed for her own quarters.

As she carried her bag over her left shoulder, her right hand touched the spot where a round scar resided, just under her shirt. "She doesn't need to know about this though, not yet, maybe not ever." Fera tossed her bag down at the foot of her bed and began pulling off her sweaty shirt. Just before she pulled it over her head, her phone began ringing, causing her to let the cloth fall back down over her body. She picked up the device and swiped her finger along the accept icon. "Grandmother?" she asked. "Ah, Ferain, it is good to hear your voice again." said an aged voice over the call. "It's good to hear yours too. Did you need anything?" "I wanted to check up on you, see how you were doing. How has school been so far?" the woman asked. Fera sat down on her bed as her right hand started playing with her earring.

"Hmm, it's been okay. I'm still getting used to things here. I've only had two days of classes so it's all still pretty new to me." "Have you made any friends at least? I know that's always been a difficult thing for you." Anita came to mind instantly and she remembered the soft touch of her lips, and the taste of peppermint that came along with it. "I have." Fera answered. "That's good to hear but you are being careful around them, right?" "Of course, Grandmother, I know the dangers more than anyone. It is a little difficult sometimes though, avoiding people's touch. There are so many people here and I didn't know that we would have sparring lessons and stuff. I'm not very good at it though so today I got left alone. I fought somebody yesterday though and it was actually pretty fun. I was angry but I was never able to use my powers like that before, it felt… liberating." "Ferain, you know that you can't use them on other people." scolded the woman. "I had to. They have to teach us how to fight and…" "No exceptions, Ferain. You are too dangerous to use them around others, you know that. I don't say this to be mean, I only want what's best for you. If you hurt another person, you wouldn't be able to live with yourself." explained her grandmother.

"But if I don't use them, how am I supposed to learn how to control them?" "It would be better if you forgot they even existed. That is one of the reasons I didn't want you going to that academy. It was too dangerous but I want you to be happy, for your mother's sake. Well, what's done is done I suppose, but I still want you to be extra careful." Fera frowned and looked towards the ground at her feet. "Yes, Grandmother, I understand." "Don't sound so gloomy, dear, I simply don't want you to hurt anybody else. Focus on your studies and try to avoid using your abilities if possible, okay?" "Yeah, okay." "So, did anything else happen that's interesting?" the woman inquired. She recalled the attack from the previous night, and the intimate moment between her and Anita, but decided against mentioning any of that. "Not really. I went to eat with another girl today though, that was kind of fun. Her power is a little invasive but it seems pretty useful. She was nice, despite her using her power on me. Oh, there was also this other guy with powers like mine, we kind of ran into each other in the elevator. That was really odd, I don't really know how to describe the feeling of it."

"You two touched?" "In a way." she replied, remembering the moment she was pushed into the door of the elevator. "It wasn't for long and he was alright afterwards. My powers didn't hurt him like they do others, probably because he's the same." she suggested. "Still, you're getting too close to people." Fera sighed and fell backwards so she stared up at the ceiling. Her head turned so her eyes were glaring at the wall beside her. "It's bound to happen while I'm here. I'll do my best to avoid it but like I said, I know the dangers and I know how to be careful." "I know, dear. Just make sure you…" "Fera, the bath is open for you!" yelled Anita as she opened the door. Fera stared at her and the girl smiled as she backed away. "Sorry." she mouthed before closing the door. "Who was that?" "My friend." Fera replied. "I have to go, Grandmother, the water will get cold. Love you and I'll talk to you later." "Of course, dear, I'll try to stay in touch. Remember, be careful, and don't use your powers unless it is absolutely necessary. Goodnight." "Goodnight." Fera quietly replied before hearing a beep, signaling the end of the connection.

She dropped the phone onto her bed and raised a hand in front of her. With her will, small webs of static coursed in between her spread fingers, crackling softly in the room's silence. "How am I supposed to avoid using them when I actually have had some fun with them for the first time in my life?" She had been enjoying it, despite the fact that she lost that first fight, and lost horribly at that. She had never freely used her powers in the ways she had since coming to the ship. When she was in the air with Anita, and during her fight with Copper, she had felt more free than she had ever felt before. It felt good to let her abilities out, like a great weight was starting to lighten off of her chest and she could breathe again. It was as if she was starting to see a whole new side of her that she had never known. Before this night, she wouldn't have been able to describe it like that, but now, it was so clear to her. "I like them. It might be wrong, but I like having this power." she muttered, watching the glowing blue light travel between her appendages.

She held her left hand above her right one and saw that the lines started filling the gap between the two, connecting together by stands of power. She imagined a ball forming and watched as the static bent to her will. A large electrical sphere formed in between her two palms and started spinning at a rapid speed, so the light appeared to be solid instead of a hundred separate currents. "Fera, are you okay?" a voice called from the hallway, accompanied by a loud knock on the door. She started and the ball broke apart, filling the room with a wave of energy. All of her lights shut off and she was left in complete darkness. The door opened and Fera let her hand light up again, casting a slight sapphire glow on her face and around her body. Anita closed in and she saw the girl with a strange grin on her face.

"You are a disaster, you know that?" she asked, laughing. The lights soon flickered back to life and she let the power in her palm fade away. "Sorry." Anita patted her shoulder and giggled. "It's no big deal, Ferain, just try to keep the power outages to a minimum when I'm working on my music. If you don't, we will have a problem." She could tell the girl was still joking around, and Fera couldn't help but join in on the laughter. "Go take your bath or shower or whatever, then we can eat dinner." Fera bobbed her head before heading to the bathroom. She pulled off her shirt and threw it onto a counter by the door. Her pants slid down her legs before being kicked to the side. Next was the underwear she wore, which was also dropped down by the pants. As the water ran down her body, she felt the humming in her rumble a bit.

She let some of her power radiate around her hands and held them up. As the water struck her palms, it sizzled and turned to steam in a near instant. Next, Fera let her whole body become consumed by an aura of electricity. She stopped feeling the water strike her body and instead heard the steady streams burn away as the room started filling with steam. Noticing that the growing haze was becoming too much to see in, she swiftly let her power die out and washed herself clean. Fera had pulled on her briefs and shorts and was in the middle of sliding the tank top over her head when the door opened. "What is going on in here, Fera? The whole hallway is filled with steam." Anita said, glancing into the room. Fera hurriedly tugged her shirt past the scars on her body. "Anita, what if I was naked? Get out." "Fine, fine, you're right, sorry." Anita said, backing out of the room. "Next time, you should lock it and I might not be so tempted." she sang before closing the door.

The dining table was already set with a rice cooker in the center, and two ceramic bowls on either side, when Fera found her usual seat. "So what was with the steam?" asked Anita. "I-I was using my powers some and it kind of happened." "Playing, more like." Anita said, grinning widely. "First the power outage and then our home turned into a haunted house. I swear, your powers never allow a dull moment, do they?" "Was it really that bad out here?" Fera questioned, embarrassed by the aftermath of her experiment. "It was but I took care of it." "How?" "Oh, I blew it all into the main hall outside our room. I figured anybody out there could enjoy it if they so desired." Anita answered while waving her hand in a casual manner, as if it was some everyday occurrence.

They ate in silence for some time before Anita put her chopsticks down. "I should apologize for barging in on you, both in your room and in the bathroom. It was kind of rude to do that so I am sorry for not respecting your privacy." "It's okay. I was taking a while and if it was you flooding the place with fog, I might have done the same." "What about the phone call, was it okay to interrupt that?" "It was just my grandmother so I'm sure she didn't mind." "Was she checking on you? Oh, that's so cute." said Anita. "In her own way, yeah, she was." "Why the long face? I always love it when my parents call for a check up." said Anita. "It's because my grandmother can be a bit… overbearing. She doesn't want me using my powers at all and for the longest time, I listened to her. She is afraid of them, understandably so, but I think I want to move past that fear. I want to learn how to use this thing that's inside of me. I don't want to fear it anymore but she is right in a lot of ways. I am dangerous to those around me and I shouldn't be looking for fights where I have to use my ability."

"But that is the point of this place, Fera. They teach us the required academics, of course, but they also train us in how to best use our powers. These academies are the best when it comes to that task so that is why so many people desire to be here." Anita reached over and took hold of Fera's right hand. "I think you should do what you want to do. If you want to break past this fear, don't let it hold you back. Students here will get hurt everyday from training exercises or duels, so what if you give a few of them a little zap every now and then? It's part of the deal when you come here. The best way to control your power is by using it. I had a hard time when I was younger too but the more I used it, the more I realised that it is like my own arm, it's a part of me that I can do whatever I want with. It does what I tell it to do, and while it always has room to grow, I am always growing alongside it. I think you can be the same way, no, I know you can. Believe in yourself a bit more and you will be surprised by how much that helps." "But Grandmother said to…" "Who cares? I know you love her, I can see that, but you are here and she is not. Ferain Hirigaya, after all of this time, it is finally the moment where you have to choose what it is that you want.

If you want to grow strong, do it. If you want to gain control, take it. If you wish to change who you are, make it happen. And if you ever feel alone, know that I will be there with you to chase it away. We're partners, Ferain, but more than that, we're friends, and I want what's best for you." Fera felt her body shaking and her eyes burning. "I want to be stronger. I'm tired of this thing controlling my life. I'm done being afraid." Anita bobbed her head. "Wonderful." she said with a beautiful smile. "I will do everything I can to help you." Fera wiped her eyes on her arm. "Thank you for putting up with me, and I look forward to it." she said, happily. In that instance, Anita's smile was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. "I'm glad. Keep that determination up and we'll make you into the most powerful person here." Anita took her hand away and they finished their dinner. Fera could't find any more words to say, not while she was stupidly gazing at her partner. When their meal was done and the table was cleaned, Fera returned to her room, where the only source of light that remained on was a small nightlight by the door.

She wasn't afraid of the dark but it was an old present from her mother, one that she had never been able to get rid of. It was a plain white plate with a blue LED in the center so there wasn't anything special about it besides the sentimental attachment. Fera rolled onto her side and then onto her stomach but still couldn't get comfortable. With an aggravated huff, she turned onto her back and laid an arm over her forehead as her eyes started up at the ceiling. Her other hand rose in front of her face and she let some static run around it. "It's only been a few days and so much has happened already. Even my powers feel different than when I first got here. If you were still here, what would you tell me to do, Mother? Would you say the same thing as Grandmother or would you tell me to keep going?" She smirked as her power grew stronger and the light radiating off of it shone brighter. "I would like to think that you would encourage me, to tell me that if it made me happy, to keep pressing forward. You were always so supportive of me, no matter what. After what I did, would you still? You loved me until the end, what about after I k…" She let her power die out as her fingers curled into a fist.

"I wish I could sit down with you, even for just five minutes. I need your help. Anita, she's wonderful, and I don't know what love feels like but I get all funny around here now, ever since that kiss. I like her, I like her a lot. But she is telling me to go against Grandmother, who is telling me to keep myself locked up. Who is right and which way should I go?" "You should do what makes you happy." came a soft voice. Before she could turn her head, a soft breeze caused her hair to blow around her face. "Don't look over here, it will ruin the moment." the familiar voice said, gentle and quiet. "What do you want, Ferain?" asked the voice. "I want to get control of my power." "What about after that? That is a good goal, but what do you sincerely want? What is the thing you desire more than anything?" Fera thought for a moment before answering. "I want to be accepted." "You should follow your heart, Fera, no matter what anybody tells you." "An…" "Shhh." the voice whispered. "Be happy, Ferain, for your own sake, nobody else's." She felt a soft touch of lips on her cheek as she closed her eyes.

There was a faint brush of fingers through her hair, something that reminded her of her mother so much that she could almost smell her there. "I love you." the voice said in a gentle caress of wind against her ear. Fera couldn't stop herself. She swiftly shot up and wrapped her arms around the girl's body. She pressed her face into the girl's shoulder as her hands gripped the cloth of her shirt, taking a handful of it in each fist. Tears streamed down her face as she imagined the look of her mother. A hand stroked her hair and then her back and then an arm draped around her body, pulling her close. Fera knew it wasn't her mother, knew that it was impossible for it to ever be, but in that moment, it had felt the same as it did when she was a child. The kind voice, the careful touch, the supportive words, it was all too much for her to withstand. She didn't just drip tears, she sobbed, loudly crying into the girl's shoulder as she gripped tighter onto the shirt, as if to never let her go again.

Anita didn't say another word but she kindly ran a hand down Fera's back over and over, in such a motherly fashion that it broke Fera's heart. It had been so long, the wound was so old, but with each passing stroke, it felt fresh again. She didn't know when she fell asleep, but she did eventually manage it, clinging to the illusion of her mother. Her dreams that night were of old memories, ones that she had not envisioned in so long that she had assumed they were forgotten. Her buzzing power was quiet, silent even, appearing nonexistent as she slept better than she had in such a long time.