9. The Interview
"Welcome to your first official day of training." Nicole and Kayla beamed at Joe and Sydney as they stepped inside a room they had never been in before. "It's very important that you learn to defend yourself so that you can hold your own if someone like that crazy man in Corfu yesterday attacks you. If we train you every day, it won't be long before we can bestow official goddess status on you."
Sydney and Joe scanned the room they were now standing in. It appeared to be a basic training area. A few punching bags were set up in the corner and the floor was covered with gym mats. A track lined the outside and various other gym equipment was scattered throughout the room.
"What do I do first?" Sydney eyed the equipment with interest, as if part of her was excited to do this.
"Today is going to be more of a testing day, which is why we're in such a low-level training room," Nicole explained, smiling at her daughter proudly. "We need to first evaluate your current skills and ask you a few simple questions so that we can construct a specific training regime around your abilities and personality. After that, there's a lot we need to inform you about like what it means to be a time goddess and things of that nature."
"So I'm not doing anything physical today? Why did I have to go running this morning then?" Sydney cocked an eyebrow and crossed her arms.
"Conditioning is very important if you are to excel in your training exercises," Kayla answered this time. "Running is something you're going to have to do every day. As more days pass, we will add in other work-outs. And if we get through the questions quickly, you may be able to start physical drills today."
"But for now, we will keep it simple," Nicole finished. She snapped her fingers and two chairs popped out of a green portal that appeared out of nowhere. She gestured to the seats. "Please, sit."
Sydney and Joe stared at them with astonished eyes as they sat down. They sat down with caution, afraid that the chairs might vanish as quickly as they appeared if they were touched. "Can I do stuff like that?" Sydney asked, unable to hide to excitement in her voice.
"In time." Nicole's eyes sparkled with amusement. "We will work up to things like that. The evaluation must come first though." She snapped her fingers again and two clipboards came out of another green portal. One landed in Nicole's hands, while the other went to Kayla.
"Your file," Nicole responded. She flipped through the pages and nodded at some of the things she saw. "We have your basic information, age: twelve, height: five feet even, weight: one hundred and six point three pounds, but we're missing the more detailed information."
"How do you know all that about me?" Sydney blinked at them and leaned away in slight fear of them.
Nicole waved her hand dismissively. "These are just the few details we gathered from monitoring you all these years."
"You know I'm a person, right? Not a zoo animal?"
Joe had to bite his lip to suppress his laughter.
Nicole stared at Sydney like she had just offended her. "Of course I know that. You are my daughter after all." She winked at her and looked back down at the papers on the clipboard.
"Something like that," Sydney mumbled under her breath so Nicole wouldn't hear, but the slight tightening in Nicole's lips revealed that she had heard her.
"First, any athletic history? Any sports or prior training?"
"How do you know my height and weight, but not-" Sydney cut herself off, abruptly shutting her mouth. She shook her head in disbelief and started again. "I've been taking jazz dance classes for four years, I played volleyball for a year in fifth grade, and I've taken a self-defense class."
Nicole raised an eyebrow at that. "So you have fighting history?"
Sydney shrugged. "Sort of. I had to take the class. It was the only way my mo-" Sydney quickly stopped herself from saying 'my mom', "Mallory would let me out into Manhattan by myself."
"It's good to hear Mallory did a satisfactory job as your temporary caretaker," Nicole spoke, putting extra emphasis on temporary.
"What about you Joe?" Kayla looked at him expectantly.
"Me?" Joe blinked in surprise. "I thought you were evaluating Sydney, not me. I'm just here as her friend."
"Yes, but you are the current owner of The Book and we decided to take it upon ourselves to gather as much information about you as we could." She nodded to The Book in Joe's hands and waited for him to answer. "It's a very powerful and important device that book. After it was created and written there was much debate over what to do with it. The council discussed it for days before the head decided to take care of it himself."
"You mean The Book was written here?" Joe looked around the area with renewed interest and wonderment. He knew nothing about The Book's origin and learning this small amount piqued his curiosity.
"Of course. Who else but a time god could create such an object as that?" Nicole frowned at him, like his response was insulting to her. "Now answer the question please. We're on a tight schedule."
"Oh." Joe blushed and stared at the ground underneath his feet. "I play baseball and basketball for my school. Any other sport I just do for fun with my friends, Fred and Sam."
Kayla nodded and jotted something down in her notes.
The questions went on like that for a while. They asked about medical history, disciplinary history, and other obscure questions that Joe had no idea why they were even being asked. It was weird being interrogated like this, but if nothing else it gave allowed him to get to know Sydney better, even if these were things he didn't feel like he needed to know. Kayla and Nicole's question gradually become more and more obscure and odd to the point that Joe didn't even know why they were asking them.
"I'm sorry, but why do you need to know if I'm comfortable around new people or not?" Sydney's face was scrunched up in confusion. "These questions are starting to seem pointless and intrusive."
"Think of it as a personality test. It'll give us a better idea of any habits we'll need to break and what mental training will need to be done. Even the way you answer these questions is valuable information to us. For instance, we can tell that you are impulsive and emotional." Nicole frowned at that. "Something we will have to weed out of you."
"I'm sitting right here. I can hear everything you're saying." Sydney rolled her eyes. "But for the record, I've never been uncomfortable around new people."
They returned to their bizarre interview. The questioning quickly became exhausting and Joe wasn't sure how much longer he could put up with this. Sydney looked like she was about to stand up and walk away. He couldn't blame her. This was ridiculous.
"I think we have everything we need," Kayla said as she finished scribbling something down in her notes. "And we still have plenty of time left."
"You're done? You sure about that? You don't want to ask me about my love life or find out what toppings I like on my pizza?" Sydney folded her arms over her chest and scowled at her mother and aunt.
"Well we could interview you some more, but you probably wouldn't enjoy that. But I'm sure you would enjoy learning a little more about your powers and all the things you can do." Nicole nonchalantly examined her fingernails. Her eyes flashed neon green.
Sydney dropped her arms and sat up in her seat, an eager gleam appearing in her eyes. "Well I'd like to know how to not send people flying across beaches every time I hit them. Even if they did deserve it."
Nicole chuckled. "We can work on that. But you need to know what your powers are before you use them."
Sydney sighed and slouched down in her chair. "We're about to get lectured aren't we?"
Kayla shrugged. "It's the quickest and most efficient way to inform you of your abilities."
Sydney rolled her eyes, showing her doubts about that. "Very well. Let the lecture begin."
And it did. Nicole and Kayla gave them a brief history of the time gods as well as information on The Book's creation. They discussed what made them time gods. Apparently, time gods literally had time flowing through their veins. If someone ever saw a time god's blood, they'd see that it was green. The same colour green as the ring in their irises which all time gods had. They were born from time and that's what gave them the ability to wield and control it so easily, and since the native language of time is Latin, all gods were created with the innate talent to speak and understand Latin fluently.
"It's very important that you speak Latin when we begin your time magic exercises," Nicole explained. "Time will be more willing to listen to you and obey you when you speak its native language. In the beginning, you will have to say it out loud, but over time it will become second nature to you and just thinking the proper Latin words will be enough."
When they finally started to talk about the abilities time magic allowed, Joe could see Sydney's entire demeanor change. He could tell she had only been half-listening to the conversation before that point, but the moment the subject changed, her posture straightened and her eyes focused on Nicole and Kayla.
"Time magic can be used both for offense and for defense. It has many other uses as well such as pulling objects through time and making them appear before you, like we did with the chairs and the clipboards. You'll be able to pull time energy into your hands and create powerful orbs to shoot at opponents." Nicole paused to demonstrate. She cupped her hands in front of her and a large green ball flared to life. She thrust her hands out to the side and the ball went soaring across the room. It collided with a punching bag and completely obliterated it.
Sydney and Joe watched in shock and awe. "So that's the kind of stuff I get to start with, right?"
"Actually, yes. These are fairly low level skills and learning to control time is the first thing that you will need to do."
A huge grin split over Sydney's face. "Awesome."
"And I would say we're actually ready to start some physical training."
Sydney was on her feet in a flash, her hands eagerly clasped in front of her. "What's first?"
"Let's see how responsive time is to you already. That display in Greece was quite impressive." Nicole pointed to another punching bag in the room that hadn't been destroyed in her previous demonstration. "Take out that punching bag like I did before. Don't get discouraged if it takes you awhile. Time can be a little stubborn at first."
"It doesn't seem that hard. I just do that whole hand glowy thing, right? And then throw it at the punching bag." Sydney concentrated on her hand and almost instantly a green ball began to blaze. She threw her arm forward and the magic shot out and crashed into the punching bag full-force. It exploded, sending debris everywhere. Sydney turned back to the others with a huge grin on her face. "Like that, yeah?"
Nicole and Kayla stared in complete surprise at the wreckage. They exchanged wide eyed looks. "Yes, exactly like that."
Nicole managed to compose herself. "That was very remarkable, especially for a first time. However, you're form could use some work and there was no need for such a powerful concentration of time energy. A much smaller amount would have been better."
Sydney's smile dropped. "Oh. Okay."
"Well, I think we've seen enough for now. We have plenty of information to set up a good training routine for you. We'll be at your door early in the morning for more conditioning and then after a short break, we'll work on some self-defense." Nicole forced a smile onto her face. "Good work today. I will see you in the morning."