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Chapter 9: Strength In Numbers

It’s storming out, Cerberus holds his head down and whimpers at the crashing of the thunder and the flashes of the lightning. I wrap him up in my blankets and hold him close.

“It’s okay Cerberus, you’re safe,” I try to comfort him. “We have to go to that interview today, you’ll have to power through the loud noises.” Cerberus weakly gazes up to me and licks my hand. I pull him closer, muffling the noisy thunder with my chest. A loud bang shakes the building and Cerberus scurries out of the room. I lose him in the dark but the pottering of his paws on the floor gives me a good idea of where he ran off to. I run down the hallway keeping my steps light so then I can hear his location, I’m like a bat. I run past the pool room when I hear an ear-piercing yelp from inside. I stop in my tracks and peer inside, the majority of the light in the room is coming from the pool LEDs. I step inside and glance around the room to try and find Cerberus, I almost leave the room and grab some treats when I notice a sparkle in the corner of the room. It’s from some of the light reflecting off of Cerberus’s eyes. He’s terrified, I slowly step closer to him when a loud clang and bright flash flies past the window. I stop, kneel down and reach my arms out towards him. He doesn’t show any interest in coming to me but then another loud boom shakes the room and Cerberus comes running into my arms. I hold him tight, petting him and covering his ears. I carry him into the living room and put on his leash, I then wrap him up in a blanket that’s been sprayed with my perfume, I was recommended to start wearing perfume so then I can spray it on stuff to come down Cerberus, and I call for a limo.

I walk out into the hallway and see Des and Troy walking over. “Going to the gym?” Des asks, then looks down to my frightened fur baby, “What happened? Is everything okay?”

I nod and start walking to the elevator, they follow me, “As you know I have the interviews today.” I lightly pat Cerberus on the head, “Cerberus is scared of the thunder and lightning, so I wrapped him up and I’m bringing him with me.”

“Can we come?” Des asks me as I press the button to call for the elevator. “We can use some of the extra training.”

“Of course,” I agree, and we all get onto the elevator. Troy is keeping a close, concerned eye on Cerberus and Des is hyping himself up for training.

We get outside of the limo and I unlock the door, I managed to muffle the sounds of the thunder so well that Cerberus fell asleep in my arms. We get inside, Des and Troy run off somewhere else and I’m left in the front entrance holding Cerberus tight.

“Is everything alright, Sergeant Commander?” CAASS asks, rolling up to me. “Is Cerberus alright.”

I do a half nod, “He’s scared of the thunder and lightning, are there any windows in the room that I’ll be interviewing everyone?”

“There are no windows,” CAASS answers me and hands me a towel and a treat. “I have also just asked a few of the other robots to soundproof the room for Cerberus.”

“Thank you,” I smile. “Please lead the way to the room.”

“Of course,” CAASS rotates around and leads me down the hallways. As we’re walking Cerberus slowly drifts back awake and starts licking my hands, smelling the treat that the towel is covering. I maneuver the towel out of the way, Cerberus devours it in under one second and lays his head back down in my arms. CAASS stops in front of a tall black and red door with a golden handle and unlocks it. “Get ready and come back here, everyone will be arriving soon.”

I carry Cerberus back to my room. Once we get just outside Fyre appears and runs into his room. I told him that we’re not going to live here yet, we come here everyday and spend several hours here, most of the time in our rooms. I throw on Cerberus and my own uniforms, I then put my hair up in a warrior ponytail and brush Cerberus’s fur back. When we finish Cerberus confidently walks by my side into the hallway and Fyre climbs up onto my head. We walk like a bunch of badasses all the way to the meeting room where CAASS is waiting for us.

“Come in and take a seat,” CAASS instructs us upon seeing us. “I will go get everyone.”

CAASS rolls off and we walk inside of the room, there are six chairs and two cushions on one side of the room and one chair with a table and one cushion on the other side. Cerberus jumps onto the singular cushion and starts spinning like a tornado, splashing bits of slobber all around him. I sit down on the chair and Fyre rests on the edge of the table. ‘What do you think these unknowns will be like?’ He asks me.

I ignore the papers of everyone and answer him, ‘I’m sure that these documents will shed some light on what they’re like, but I’ll look at them once everyone arrives.’

‘Don’t you think it would be a better idea to know them as much as possible before actually seeing them?’ Fyre questions me. We hear a large number of footsteps and CAASS rolling coming from down the hallway.

I shake my head, ‘I want to see what they’re first impressions are like. Without any documentation affecting my opinion of them.’

‘I don’t think it really even matters,’ Fyre rolls his eyes and looks away. ‘You’re going to accept all of them anyways.’

I shrug, ‘True. Unless they do something really bad, their chances of being denied are pretty much zero.’

CAASS leads everyone into the room, I stand up formally and professionally like a boss at a law firm. Cerberus stops spinning and sniffs the air, he starts to look around, trying to find something behind everyone. Fyre lazily gets up and stands on the other side of the table, facing them.

“Good morning, everybody,” I sweetly smile and gestured for everyone to take their seats. “My name is Lexus Deathchill, and this will be your interview.” There are six interviewees, two for my group, two for Fyre’s group and two for Cerberus’s group. There is a dragon on one of the cushions and a moyky in the other, they must be part of Cerberus’s group. I look around at the seats, there’s a fairy in one and a zingope in the other, that must be Fyre’s group. Then I focus my attention on the humans, Hunter and Stef are smiling like cocky fuckboys. There’s also the boy that I quickly looked over, Tadaaki Atsuo, he’s cute, but his style is terrible. It looks like his pants are pulled up to his nipples and his shirt is tucked in. His socks don’t match, one is bright pink, and the other is dark blue and inside out. His shoes are Velcro and those aren’t even done up, they’re also a headache inducing mixture of purple and green. His hair is a mess, but it does look really soft. Such wasted potential. Luckily, we have a uniform, there’s no way he can mess that up. I look over to the only other girl here, she has long green hair that makes her Bora Bora, ocean blue eyes pop. She’s wearing a black and gold tactical dress, the kind with hidden pockets and the dress is designed to be tight so then it won’t flow around in the wind. She looks like she can be an assassin if her hair wasn’t so eye catching. I notice a braid in the back of her head that splits halfway down and disappears behind the rest of her hair. Helpful for hiding small items, like money, syringes or even knives.

The dragon raises his wing and says something that I don’t understand. Fyre turns to me and says, ‘She wants to know why we’re all taking this interview together.’

I smile, I don’t really know why myself. “Because this will help me see a little bit of what you’re like in a small group,” I lie, although I guess that’s actually a pretty good reason.

I sit back down and start shuffling through the papers, searching for the green haired tomboy. Everyone starts looking around completely confused, even Fyre and Cerberus are unsure of what’s going on. I find the paper, her name is Darcila Ryder. She is seventeen years old and her pet is the Moyky, named Quip. Her powers are appearance changing, hearing, floating and flexibility. I set down the paper and stare Darcila dead in the eye.

“Explain your powers to me,” I order her. “Miss, Ryder.”

“I can make myself look like anyone, even people who don’t exist,” She starts, changing the colour of her hair from green to brown to red to blue then back to green. That certainly saves a lot of money from not having to go to the hair salon. “I can hear anything from anywhere in the world if I focus hard enough.” That too is very helpful. “There’s two boys five kilometers away hitting each other with sticks and one keeps on doing back flips.”

“Those are my brothers,” I explain.

She stands up and begins to steadily float one foot off the ground, “I can float and even make other things float, but floating other things tires me out and often requires a spell.” She sits back down, “For flexibility, I can bend any part of my body like there’s no bones at all.” She’s so badass and cool!

I nod and act like I’m not in fangirl mode, “Interesting, explain your childhood to me.”

She shakes her head, “I didn’t really have one.” I look up at her confused and she explains, “I don’t remember much from it, I only remember one day from every year. Between the ages of newborn to fourteen and once I finally managed to keep my memory, I spent my entire time training. I don’t know why I was training or what it was for, but I trained a lot.” She looks down to Quip and places her hand on his head, “When I turned fifteen, I was given him from a shadowy man that was taking care of me, from then on we were training together.” Interesting. “He helped me hone my flexibility and keep a good balance while floating.”

I nod and turn to CAASS, “Take her to my brothers and tell them to battle her until she’s so exhausted, she can’t move.”

“Understood,” CAASS agrees, her and Darcila leaves and I focus on what she told me.

‘Shadowy man,’ I bring up to Fyre.

‘Hand me her file,’ Fyre tells me, I hand him the file and he looks through it. ‘I’ll do some research on her while you interview the next person.’

‘Alright,’ I flip through the pages and focus my attention on Tadaaki Atsuo. I’m purposely paying attention to the people I don’t know first since I don’t know them. Tadaaki Atsuo, 16, male, powers include super speed, light, purification and limb regrowth. He would be best under the healer category, but I don’t have any healers that I’m close friends with. I look up and stare at him gruesomely, in an attempt to intimidate him, “Tell me about your childhood.”

He nervously swallows and voice cracks on his first word, “Well.” He coughs, “Well, my father went missing when I was ten, my mother hasn’t been the same since then.” I want to ask him what he means but I feel like that’s a little too personal for right now. “My grandmother moved in with us shortly after and by the time I was twelve I was already working for the French-Sahri government.” Ah yes, the first time someone has actually started using that name on the first try.

“What did you do for the government?” I ask him.

“Well, when I started off, I was a testing dummy,” He starts. “They would inject certain diseases into my body and then cut off the limbs before the disease kills me, since my body can regrow.” He contemplates for a second, “Then I became a fighting partner for juveniles and criminals, to help them let out their anger.” I wonder how much pain this poor boy has been through. “At some point I was sent to a few ancient temples to purify their holy grounds, since some of them have been overrun by a few heartless demons.” How did he get himself into all of this? “I also worked alongside the human firefighters, since at some point they became too slow and humans began to die for their laziness.” This guy seriously deserves a medal. “I was also a night light a few times for my cousin’s baby, for some reason she could only sleep if either I or her mother was there, and she was terribly afraid of the dark. So, I would offer to be a night light every few days so then her mother can get some free time.” I- I don’t know what to say, he’s got to have some sort of downside, like multiple personalities, trauma or even anger issues. So far, I haven’t seen anything negative other than his style.

The fairy flies over and taps Fyre on the shoulder, she whispers something in his ear and Fyre turns over to me. ‘She wants to be his partner,’ Fyre translates. ‘She’s dead set on it and refuses to wait and see anyone else.’

“I’ll be sure to make it happen once we get around to it,” I smile at her. She smiles gratefully and flies back to her seat. I turn back to Tadaaki, “Continue.”

“I’ll skip a little further ahead to more recently,” Tadaaki exclaims. “I found out that my father went missing because Anthony Carcasco stole his soul, and you were the one that set his soul to peace.” I- I did that, I helped someone without knowing it. “When CAASS contacted me, I was told about what the organization is really for, I want to help purify the rest of the tortured souls while you end Anthony.”

“I’m curious about something,” I interrupt him. I feel bad for interrupting him, he’s so kind, but I’m sure he understands. “You’ve been through so much, but so far I haven’t seen any downsides about you and your file doesn’t show any negatives either.” Other than that outfit.

He shakes his head, “Purification and light.” He explains, “I can’t have anything negative about me mentally and emotionally.”

I smile and nod, I really like this guy, “Due to your powers it would be best for you to be a healer.” I continue, “But I also don’t have any healers that are close friends, so I’ll be training you hard and eventually you may even become the lead healer. Though you will have to learn some basic combat skills as well.”

His face lights up from joy and excitement, “I completely understand, I’ll make you proud and I will help however I can, Sergeant!”

CAASS comes rolling in and I turn to her, “How’s everything going?”

“Des and Troy continue to power each other up, however Darcila has many tricks under her sleeve,” CAASS provides me the rundown. “Ready to provide another opponent?”

“A healer,” I answer. “Tell Des and Troy that I say, ‘You’re welcome.’”

“Understood,” CAASS responds and leads Tadaaki to the rest of the group.

I flip through a few more files when Fyre gets my attention, ‘From what I know so far the shadowy man doesn’t have anything to do with Anthony.’

‘Who is he then?’ I ask Fyre.

‘Her father,’ He responds. ‘He possesses a passive power, or disease, that causes the people he cares about to live the majority of their life blacked out. When she turned fourteen her father couldn’t take her living that kind of life anymore and decided to give her that moyky to protect her. After that he went to a science lab and told them to erase his memory of her and all of those years, then he disappeared, never to be seen again.’

‘So why all of the training?’ I question him. ‘And why was he a shadow?’

‘The training was brought up by her mother, she’s never in any of her memories because she was never around when she did remember, and she still wasn’t around after fourteen because she was sent off to the military and apparently, she went missing three months later. Darcila kept up the training because it was a routine for her, her mother wanted her to be safe since she knew her father couldn’t do much,’ Fyre explains. ‘As for why her father was a shadow in all of her memories, nobody really knows for sure. Some scientists believe he had another passive ability that he wasn’t aware about, but no tests proved it to be true.’

‘And Darcila has no clue of any of this?’ I ask him.

He shakes his head, ‘There’s nearly a hundred reasons that scientists wrote on this file as to why we shouldn’t mention it to her.’ He scans through her paper, ‘The one that sticks out to me the most is that if she were to find out the truth then, she would go death, she would to into a hideous blob, she will float into space and all of her bones would harden and break thousands of times every second, causing an immense amount of pain.’

‘Is there any proof of this?’ I try not to look freaked out by everything.

‘Cellular tissue,’ Fyre answers. ‘They tested it on chunks of her skin and little bits of her brain.’

‘Don’t talk about her past, got it,’ I look away in amazement. ‘Interview your group.’

Fyre finishes interviewing his two members, I’m assuming that he accepted them since they went along with CAASS. ‘Two left,’ he points out.

I look up to the sight of two teenage boys smiling smugly and a dragon flapping his wings in the air, completely oblivious of what’s going on. Hunter breaks the silence, “Nice to see you again, Sergeant Commander.”

I roll my eyes, “I already know what you two can do, there’s no point in the interview.”

Stef laughs, “Well then can we at least kick Des and Troy’s asses?”

I raise an eyebrow, “You guys do know that they’re holding back, right?”

Stef shrugs and sprints out of the room and towards the noise of all the fighting, his dragon takes a second to notice then lazily flies after him. Cerberus and Fyre join, leaving me alone with Hunter. He smiles and prances towards me like he knows exactly what’s about to happen next and exactly how to make it happen, “Nice to see you again.”

“You already said that,” I mention, avoiding his memorable eyes and irresistible smile. “Aren’t you going to go join them?”

He glances out the door then gazes deep into my eyes, like he’s scanning my entire memory, or he’s trying to mind control me with the powers he doesn’t have. “That can wait, I’m getting a few extra points with my boss.”

His deep voice takes my breath away, but I turn competitive and smirk, “Who said you were accepted?”

“Even if I’m not, I heard you were single and I don’t want to miss my chance,” Hunter explains. He pulls me in close then I hear the sound of rustling behind me. He promptly pushes me away and runs a marker over my top lip, then immediately rushes away and out of the room. “Nice mustache, hey guys wait for me!”

I clench my fists and run after them like an old lady with a broom, “I’m going to kick your ass!”

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