"Such an impudent child. Won't you teach him a lesson?" Cain's voice whispered in Azuma's head.
"Fuck off." Azuma replied silently, venom dripping from his voice. He tried to concentrate on watching the candidates run around the track. Zero was running backwards as he chattered excitedly about the lessons they were going to have later that day. He looked so bright and happy, Azuma wouldn't let Cain take that from him. He wouldn't let anyone else face what he'd gone through.
It had taken him years to get over Cain. At first he had missed him. He wasn't sure why, he just did. It seemed that the time that he'd spent under Cain's not so gentle tutelage had really messed up his head. His time as a pilot hat helped to straighten him out. Eeva Leena had listened to his woes and gently guided him through the painful memories, assuring him that it wasn't his fault and he shouldn't feel guilty for Cain's crimes. Later on, his time as an instructor helped to smooth things over. His work with all the candidates was fulfilling and he was content with his life, having put Cain far far behind him.
Just when he thought that he could relax, he was on high alert once more. It had only started recently, when Gareas became a candidate. The young green haired boy was so much like himself in many ways. It was then that Cain's voice started whispering in his head. He said such awful things; everyday it had been a battle to fight off his words. He couldn't cover his ears because Cain's voice was inside his head, taunting him, pushing him. Every day he fought back, but he could only do so much. He could only take so much.
"That's right Ji-Chan. I'm stronger than you. I was always stronger than you. That's why you needed me. You needed me to teach you. You still need me now. I'll always be with you." Cain's voice purred like poisoned honey.
"I don't need you! I never needed you! Leave me alone! Stop haunting me! Stop!" Azuma yelled at the specter of his torturer.
"You'll never be rid of me Ji-Chan." Cain replied as Azuma shivered as though ghostly hands were traveling over his thighs. Then the voice was gone and Azuma was left with only the thundering silence and lingering bitterness.
Azuma was in the middle of explaining a complicated maneuver to the candidates when the alarms went off. He frowned and put down his data pad. "Alright, you guys go to the infirmary," he ordered.
Zero whined. "Do we have to? Can't we stay somewhere and watch?"
"No! You'll just get into trouble. Go to the infirmary now." Azuma pointed to the door. "I have to get to the bridge, but don't think I won't find out if you're not there."
Zero withered under his glare and unenthusiastically followed the others as they filed out of the room lit with the flashing red lights of the warning alarms. Azuma nodded as he watched them head off in the correct direction before jogging to the control deck to look into the situation. He arrived to a flurry of activity with people scurrying over the decks while others were glued to monitors, watching the battle with Victim.
He stood in the back out of the way of those working as he watched the Goddesses weave in and out of complicated patterns that he had taught many of them not long ago. He watched Eeva Leena dance gracefully through space and felt a deep longing for the sense of peace that she had brought him. He needed that now, now that Cain was haunting him once more. His eyes followed the battle. He caught the single Victim that escaped. He stepped forward and tapped the shoulder of a man at a monitor. He was another instructor that was giving instructions to some of the other candidates that had been sent out into space to watch and act as cleanup crews. He nodded as Azuma fed him instructions for the candidates.
They watched the upper level candidates move into formation and begin firing at the creature. Several of them hit the Victim right on, but it didn't stop the monster from coming. G.O.A.'s proximity alerts began clanging wildly as it got closer and closer. The candidates were ordered out of the way as G.O.A.'s main weapons array was targeted onto the rogue Victim. G.O.A. fired and the creature exploded, but it was so close that the shock waves rocked the ship. Azuma pitched forward, his head slamming into a console. The world tilted, screens and people and Goddesses slipping as he fell to the floor swallowed in a starless sea of black.
Cain awoke in the infirmary. For the first time in decades he had real solid eyelids to open. A smirk curled his lips as he slowly sat up, ignoring the slight throbbing that resounded in his head. That was something he hadn't missed, pain. But it felt so good to be back in a body he really didn't care, it could be ignored. It had everything to do with discipline. You used discipline to overcome your weaknesses. He looked around the white room and noticed a blonde at a desk working silently with her head down.
"Rill." Azuma's voice came huskily from his throat. It was Azuma's body after all.
Rill's head shot up. "Hijikata! You scared me." She got up and walked over. "What did you think you were doing throwing yourself around on deck like that? Stupid. Are you feeling better now?"
Azuma grinned. She hadn't changed at all. "I feel fine."
"But your head." She reached out to touch the bandages.
"I'm fine." He replied swiping her hand away.
She frowned. "All right then. But if you feel dizzy, you'd better come right back here."
"Yeah. I will. But now, I have things to take care of," he said getting up off the small infirmary bed. Rill watched with a frown as Azuma left. For some reason he didn't seem like himself. But then he had hit his head pretty hard. She only hoped that he was really okay and wasn't lying to her.
Cain walked down the familiar halls of G.O.A. with a smirk firmly affixed to his face. It didn't take him long to find who he was looking for as the sounds of yelling drew him into one of the observation decks where Zero and Hiead were fighting.
"88! 87! That is enough!" He stepped between the two boys tearing them apart and holding each by the scruff of their shirts. Zero struggled in his grasp but Hiead went limp, though his blood red eyes were smoldering with silent fury. "You will both report to detention at 0800 tonight for laps. As for you 88, I want to see you in my office right now."
"But he started it!" Zero protested.
"None of that." Cain said in a steely voice that brooked no arguments. "In my office, now."
"Yessir." Zero mumbled, looking down at his feet. He shot a dirty look at Hiead as he trudged out of the room following their instructor.
They marched silently down the hall until they reached Azuma's offices. The door slid open and Cain ushered Zero in, discreetly locking the door behind him. Cain moved to sit in Azuma's chair and looked at the boy standing sullenly before the desk.
"Come here," he beckoned.
Zero shuffled behind the desk and stood nervously before him. Cain put a strong hand on his shoulder and used the other hand to force the boy's head up, staring him down. "Now Zero, today I will teach you discipline."
Next --> Linger