Canton chroniclesrising.., p.9
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.9
 

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
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  Mike was unusually silent, but nodded obediently at Seb’s request. And then he started taking. About their childhood years, the loss, the abuse, everything.

  Val knew most of the boys’ experiences, but still. It was harrowing to hear the whole story. As for Amy, she sat there complete flabbergasted.

  “By the Deities, you’ve been through a lot. Both of you. And still…”

  “We are a bunch of happy idiots?” Mike said, making Sebastian laugh.

  “You are no idiots that’s for sure. At least Sebastian here isn’t” she said and gave Mike an ironic look.

  “But you are surely happy.”

  Amy sounded melancholic for a second.

  “There is no enemy you can’t face, Amy. Outside or inside you. It may takes months or even years. And there will be many points, where you think: I am not going to make it. I am going to sleep every night, plagued by fear and guilt. But it’s not true. You should never stop trying to find happiness. Never.”

  The three people looked at Val like she was some kind of a weird animal, and she chuckled uncomfortably.

  “Sorry to intervene.”

  “I guess someone is absolute ready to share her own success story” said Seb, and at that exact same moment, the door creaked open and John’s face appeared.

  “The whole fellowship is here, I reckon. Ladies, I don’t even know if you are supposed to be here or not.”

  Val thought about the many uncomfortable stares she and Amy had gathered on their way to the boys’ room.

  “Probably not”, she said, smiling.

  “Doc, tell us everything. Did they threaten you, harass you or interrogate you?” Mike said, sincerely enraged.

  “Did Rehberg hit on you?”

  “Amy!”

  “It was much more boring than that, I assure you. But I do have a pleasant surprise.”

  John’s right hand was behind his back the whole time, and now he revealed a six-pack of beers, with a big bottle of wine on top.

  “Is that real or one of your tricks?”

  “I would never trick my friends, Valentine. Although I had to trick the kitchen lady to get them.”

  He winked in a rare sight of naughtiness.

  “Look at that rebel. I guess it’s true, that Power changes people. Even though you were born with it.”

  “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Amy said, regaining her lost temper. Everyone looked at her, guilty.

  “Everyone gets to know about this, and I don’t? Speak, Lucas.”

  So John spoke. About everything. The dreams, the premonitions, Valentine. His whole life including his childhood, the meeting with Seb and Mike, and his now estranged girlfriend Aileen.

  Amy whistled.

  “Your life has been fucked up, Johnnie.”

  He laughed sincerely, amused by her comment.

  “I think life has actually treated me really well, Amy. Maybe better than anyone else.”

  The dizziness coming from the beer consumption and the stress of the day, made John’s words weight heavy on everyone’s heart.

  “I think it’s time for the girls to go to their room, guys”

  John, broke the uncomfortable silence.

  “We are all really tired.”

  They said their good-byes at the door, but John beckoned Val to stay for a while.

  “Val listen. Vanessa was looking at you during your exam. She told me that yours was the best first test they’ve seen so far.”

  Val narrowed her eyes.

  “Are you sure?”

  John raised a finger to his lips.

  “Just between you and me, ok.”

  She nodded.

  “Promise. And John… Congratulations on your Power.”

  Having said her goodbyes to John, Val reached for Amy and grabbed her by the arm.

  “Who thought a bunch of boys would’ve been so interesting to talk too. I think I actually start to like them.” Amy said, blushing lightly.

  Val thought about the boys’ kindness, and nodded in agreement.

  “Me too, sweetheart. Me too.”

 

  ***

  5. The Bully and the Hero

  “Nice going there, Val. You’ve forgotten your old friends and found new ones. Really nice.”

  Mandy was pissed and it was only the beginning of day two. Val couldn’t be mad at her though, not with her overly dramatic behaviour.

  “You were too engulfed in your boyfriend affairs, Mandy,” Amy replied ironically and Mandy sulked for a second. Then Val hugged her tightly and she gave in.

  “Speaking of friends, do you have a friend on the Test today, Mandy? We all had our turns yesterday.”

  She nodded.

  “Yes in fact I do. Doug and Scot. Nelson’s pals. You remember them Val, right?”

  Of course she did. Both guys were friends of Nelson’s. Scot was an extremely timid and introvert guy, Doug a handsome older athlete. Val and he had a short affair, which ended six months ago, without any hard feelings. Mostly because of Val’s insecurity.

  “It’ll be interesting to watch them compete.”

  The girls reached the Main Hall after their breakfast, locating their trio of boys right next to the Training Room’s entrance. Next to them stood Nelson with his two friends. Seb seemed to be talking with them in a quite passionate mood.

  “Good morning, all of you.”

  Mandy sat next to Nelson and kissed him sweetly.

  “Jesus, get a room” shouted Mike.

  “You forgot your own shit back on the day, Mike.”

  Mike looked at Seb, his face red.

  “Nice support, dude” said Mike with a thumbs up.

  Valentine was still laughing when she was greeted by Doug.

  “Hey, Val. Long time, no see. Nice job, the show you put up yesterday.”

  He fondled her arm lightly, with affection.

  “Thanks, Doug, although I think there were a lot impressive shows than mine. You are going to shine today too, no doubt.”

  Doug studied her for a long, good minute.

  “I think you’ve changed, somehow. For the better.”

  “Thanks. So what were you guys talking about?” Val asked, changing the subject swiftly.

  Sebastian got excited in a second and started talking non-stop. It turned out the three of them knew each other, through some Internet forums. Val was not a great fan of computers, gadgets or the exchange of electronic information, although it had been a crazy trend for the past ten years, especially in the three main Canton cities.

  “Anyway, we had this crazy idea. We’ll like to set up a sort of a local Internet line, just inside the Academy. Like having a local newspaper. That way we’ll get to throw events, get to know one other, you know, team stuff.”

  Amy was the first to respond, looking amazed.

  “Wow, you really are smart.”

  Seb looked at her, slightly annoyed.

  “You thought I was an idiot before?”

  “No, God, of course not. I told you yesterday, that you are excluded from the idiot list, didn’t I? But you just… you don’t seem that social, you know. Like you prefer keeping to yourself.”

  “Don’t judge a book by its cover, Amy.”

  Amy looked timidly at Seb.

  “I am sorry, Sebastian, I really didn’t want to offend you,” she said, earning a polite smile.

  “Come one guys, it’s time we go now. The Exam is about to begin.”

  The second Test was less surprising, smoother than the first. Val felt like the day would pass uneventfully. She had almost forgotten about her encounter with Alice Green, too pre-occupied with her own test of fears.

  Until she saw her on stage, of course. She faced her monster with great decency, a giant figure with grey hair and black eyes, looking suspiciously like her father Aldus.

  If he was my father, he would also be my greatest fear.

  Aldus
Green was one of the twelve Counsellors and a doctor. He was a powerful man, a little too powerful in fact. And frightening.

  At the end of the day a few people still remained. Val was alone in the Training room, her friends gone, either too tired or too bored to stay. A small part of her still held her there, her curiosity to discover all her fellow contestants.

  When finally the last of them entered the stage, Val realised she was a small, tiny in fact, girl with enormous eyes, constant unhappiness drawn in them. She recognised her right away.

  Emma Brown. My classmate. Alice’s favourite victim.

  She was one of the people who’d been threatened from Aldus Green, in order to testify that Val was, indeed, a dangerous, unstable individual. Val never blamed her. The Greens are too powerful to be messed with.

  Emma’s nightmare was a shadowy figure in a school roof. Val felt needles in her heart just by watching the damn thing. Emma got through it though, by pushing the figure down the ledge. The bells rung and the Exam ended completely.

  The poor girl left the stage running. Val stood up and walked in a hurry, trying to catch up with her.

  “Emma, please wait. Hold on for a second will you?”

  Emma looked behind her, giving a little scream when she realized someone was following her. Then she saw Val standing in front of her and her gaze grew sadder.

  “Valentine. How… why did you follow me?”

  “I saw you in the Exam. You were really great, Emma. Finally pushing the shadow of that ledge.”

  Even the tips of Emma’s ears grew red from shame. She looked at the ground, whispered a hasty “Thanks” and turned to leave. Val realized she had to do this quick.

  “Emma, I want you to know, I never held that testimony against you. They are a terrible family, the both of them. You had no other choice.”

  Emma’s face was full of tears as she turned to face her.

  “I wanted to tell the truth, but they threatened my parents...”

  Her voice was just a whisper now, and Val took a step towards her, trying to reach and comfort the crying girl, when someone grabbed her from behind and pushed her to the ground.

  Val fell with her bare back, hurting her elbows in the process.

  Alice was standing at the stairs, having already grabbed Emma’s hair, pulling them mercilessly.

  In front of Val were Tobias and Will, two big-boned, muscular idiots, Alice’s personal friends and co-bullies since primary-school.

  They had always been eager in causing trouble, but today, Will seemed a little more hesitant. Tobias, on the other hand, was thirsty for blood. He looked at Val and licked his lips, like seeing a delicious meal.

  Alice made Emma fall on her knees, as she squealed from fear.

  “So you want to throw me off a roof little Emma, don’t you? You thought I wouldn’t be around to see that, did you?”

  She pulled Emma’s hair and the girl screamed.

  “And not only that, but you actually wanted to make a fool of my father in the trial. We should have fired your parents when we had the chance! And I should teach you both a lesson.”

  She slapped Emma’s cheek, hard. Tobias made his way to help Alice.

  No way, you fucker.

  “What’s wrong Toby? Even after all those years, Alice’s sour cunt is the only one who’ll take your tiny cock in? That’s why you are still her servant?”

  Val knew that there was a serious risk of getting beaten for her words, but she wouldn’t go down without a fight. And at least Emma would have only Alice to worry about, maybe even escape her grasp.

  Tobias charged at her, screaming like a raging bull. Val resumed a fighting stance, rolling aside at the last moment, interrupting Tobias’ assault, leaving him confused and enraged.

  Val took her momentary chance and kicked him on his back, throwing him head-straight to the ground. Another kick on the back of his head did the trick, and Toby remained down, giving Val a little bit of space and time.

  Alice was now out of her mind, slapping Emma even harder.

  "This is what you get for being friends with that slut.”

  Vanessa run towards the stairs, when Will decided to intervene, by standing between her and Alice. He caught Val’s arm in a tight grip behind her back.

  “Just let her do her thing, and then we can all go to our rooms. It’s the best for you.”

  Val tried kicking him, in order to get away, but he was swifter than Tobias. Alice raised her hand again. Val shouted at the top of her lungs.

  It happened in an instant, like an answer to Val’s protests. A black smoke appeared suddenly between Alice and Emma’s tormented face, with a foot coming out of nowhere, kicking Alice in the stomach, sending her straight to the ground.

  Amy materialized out of the black smoke, angry like never before, her face a mask of pure rage.

  “Run” she told Emma. “Straight to your room and lock the door.”

  Emma didn’t need to be told twice. She disappeared out of sight, as Will loosened his grip, torn apart between his will to help Alice and the need to restrain Val.

  Val took the chance and pushed her elbows deep into Will’s belly, freeing herself, and heading straight towards the stairs. Tobias got up, his anger now multiplied tenfold, and charged at Val, directing all his strength at her turned back.

  As he was about to reach his target, Amy teleported again and landed a blow straight at his face, sending him spinning on the main entrance, his nose full of blood.

  By the time Amy was done with Alice and Tobias, John, Mike and Seb had already found them. The three boys caught a breathless Will and a bleeding Toby by their necks. The two fell on their knees, exhausted and out of breath.

  Amy was holding Alice’s hair, much like she had done with Emma Brown. Val was sitting at the staircase, trying to shake off a little bit of the shock, in an effort to regain her breath.

  God, I dragged the others into this.

  Amy was the one doing the talking, her voice full of deadly calmness.

  “I don’t know who the three of you are or why you attacked that poor girl or Valentine. But” she pushed harder when Alice opened her mouth in protest, “I don’t care. We don’t care. We are a team, and if you hurt any of us again, your state is going to be sorrier than just a couple of bruises and a broken nose. We don’t react well to threats or bullies. Do you understand?”

  Alice and her boys nodded their heads frantically.

  “What should we do with them now?”

  Mike asked and Sebastian looked at John. Taking a deep breath, John addressed the attackers with utmost determination.

  “We are going to let you go now. You are not to tell anyone what you did, and you are not going to try this shit again. Is that clear?”

  They all nodded, slower now, mesmerized. John looked at the boys.

  “If anyone asks you what’s happened with your ugly faces, you had a bathroom accident. I suggest you stop your bullying attempts, for we are always watching. And you don’t want to be further hurt, do you?”

  They all looked at him, scared to death, like their minds projected their terrible fate.

  “You can go now.”

  The three bullies got up slowly, and ascended the staircase, Alice to the left, both guys to the right. John exhaled slowly and Amy sat next to Val, holding her hand.

  “They’re all gone now, Val. It was very brave to stand up for the girl, but please do not try scary things alone next time ok? They would have sent you to the Academy’s clinic, if not in a normal hospital, seeing how determined they were. That’s why the PA has an emergency button.”

  Mike and Seb nodded in agreement. They must’ve all thought that Val was protecting Emma, not realising that Alice was actually after both of them. Only John had the slightest idea, but chose to remain silent.

  “Thanks, guys. You really saved my ass. These guys really did look threatening. But I couldn’t just stand around and watch them
do that to a poor girl.”

  Amy nodded and Val looked at her, impressed.

  “Amy, you know you teleported, right?”

  Amy looked slightly embarrassed, but also excited and proud.

  “I know, right? It was automatic, really. I saw you from the edge of the stairs and I just wished I could be down there fast enough to stop that fucking bitch, and the next second I was. I wasn’t even shocked by the fact. Like I was expecting it my whole life. A part of me not yet revealed.”

  Amy’s eyes were shining, and she looked like she could take on the whole world. John’s face was full of joy.

  “I am so glad I am not the only one, anymore.”

  Then in an unexpected sign of affection, he turned around and hugged Val tightly.

  Amy gasped and the boys stood speechless, their eyes huge on their sockets. If anyone tries to hurt you again, he is dead. I guarantee it. I was late once, but never again.

  Val heard those beautiful words in her brain, and she hugged John even harder, a tear escaping from her eyes.

  I really hope you are right, John. For both our sakes.

  ***

  Vanessa looked at the files in front of her desk, her brows shaped into a sceptical frown. She had a bad feeling about this whole mess of a story.

  She had been at the Instructor’s office, preparing the last details for tomorrow’s training with John Lucas, when the doors opened and a breathless Priscilla, accompanied by Beth, stormed inside, speaking frantically.

  Their story had been one for the books: Two confused boys, wondering lost outside the Library, badly wounded. The two of them were rushed to the infirmary, where the Academy’s physician confirmed that they were, indeed, beaten-up. The only problem was that the boys stubbornly insisted they had been in a bathroom accident.

  Guido had taken a good look at their bruises

  “These two blocks were beaten up by someone skilful. Someone swift.”

  “Why would anyone want to bully two massive boys?”

  “That’s just the thing, darling”, Beth said sweetly. “I think they were trying to attack someone. Their hits are mainly defensive, rather than offensive. It just turned out that their victim was faster.”

  “What if they had a fight with one other? That would explain their weird story, too.”

  “I highly doubt it, Vanessa. For once, they are way too confused and really believe this was an accident. If they had fought with each other, they would have gone straight to their rooms, never mentioning the fact. But they were running around aimlessly. And their bruises are smaller than their hands.”

 
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