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Cause [1.2.3]

“Hah! Yah!”

The chime of a spear blade striking a dummy reverberated through the crisp air as Cassil ran into the arena section of the gym. There were a few Zionids training, including some Officials, but only one of importance. Her sister, decked out in full armour, leaving only her head exposed between two huge pauldrons, breathing heavily, smiled and stopped fighting for a moment. “Hey, sis. I thought you were going to forget as usual.”

“No, no, of course not!” Cassil replied. “…Well, Vasa reminded me, but…

‘Heheh. That’s to be expected.’ her sister, Levan, replied with a kind smile.

Cassil sat on a bench nearby as Levan turned towards her defenceless dummy once again. She began to strike it heavily, raining down blows quickly and without mercy, ducking and dodging around a pretend opponent, all the while keeping her attacks coming. She was the most skilled Official that Cassil knew, second only possibly to Kushel. As they usually did, the pair talked as Levan trained.

“So, what’s the news?” Levan asked.

“Oh, you know, the usual. We caught up on the Wars of the Roses on Earth, and the general revolt on Rynull, both really interesting. Have you watched them?”

“Actually, I don’t think I have.” Levan answered between breaths. “I started watching the Wars of the Roses, yah! I prefer the earlier time period stuff; most of my viewport time is spent watching Earth from 800-1000 AD. That’s the best stuff.”

Cassil checked her wrist phone, but nobody had sent her a message. “Mm, yeah, I guess. Can’t say I’ve watched much of it. Vasa prefers non-Earth things, because he says Earth is massively overrated.”

“Ugh, isn’t it annoying when your roommates commandeer the viewport?”

“Tell me about it.” Cassil said, grinning. “So, what’ve you been up to?”

“Oh, nothing much. Training like crazy for this competition, hah! And looking for a new space.” Levan replied, stumbling as her next spear slice glanced off of the dummy rather than striking it head-on.

“I forgot about that – how’s that going?” asked Cassil.

“Not bad. The four of us have finally agreed on a place, and we’re going to check it out tomorrow. The bedrooms are so spacious, I absolutely love it. Yah! Could sleep for days if I wanted in those beds.”

“Oh, that reminds me; Raz has been having bad dreams. He said other Zionids and Voidians have been getting them too… would you know anything about that?”

Levan’s next attack went completely wide and she fell to one knee with surprise.

“No. I don’t know anything about that.”

Cassil cocked her head in suspicion. “You, uh, don’t sound too convinced about that. Is it to do with the growing darkness in the Reaches?”

“Please don’t do this, Cassil.”

“Is it true the Reaches is collapsing? Do we need to be worried? The King’s address last week suggested that everything was going to be fine.” Cassil pressed.

“Look. The Officials are dealing with it, OK? You guys don’t need to worry yourselves about it.”

“I see.” Cassil replied. It was rare for her sister to be so terse. Levan shrugged. “I’m not the Official in charge of the ‘general threats to national and universal security by a superdemon of unknown origin department’. I’m sure it’s being dealt with.”

“If you say so.” Cassil replied, standing up. “Quick break and coffee?”

“Sounds good.” Levan said with a curt nod. “Yasen, Kushel, I’ll be back this afternoon. I’ll try not to be late for my shift.”

The sisters exited together, leaving the dummy stood alone in the middle of the arena, marked with scratches and rips. Yasen and Kushel, two Officials and friends of Levan, stopped sparring with one another and watched them go.

“So she’s going to be late, then.” Yasen said with a sigh.

“I am much the same with my brother. You lose track of time when you are enjoying yourself.” Kushel replied. He was a big, heavyset Zionid – naturally, the Head of Punishment for the Officials – and wielded a spear with ease. Yasen was a female Zionid, smaller and thinner, more focused on bookkeeping and scholarly pursuits than fighting, but as an Official, she had a duty to keep in good shape.

As the rings and clangs of the numerous other Zionids fighting dummies and one another sounded out, Kushel hefted his spear and pointed it at Yasen with a fearsome face.

“Shall we go again?”

Yasen sighed. “Alright, alright. Please go easy on me; it’s been a tiring few days.”

“Fine.” Kushel replied. Yasen twirled her spear and lunged forwards, but Kushel knocked the spear out of the way with his own and swung it back around to trip Yasen, who staggered and just managed to leap over the weapon.

As they usually did, they talked whilst they fought. Kushel was so skilled that he had to be distracted with talk before Yasen stood a chance against him.

“So how are you feeling about this competition coming up?”

“It is in sixteen days.” Kushel replied. “I have yet to devote much thought to it.”

“You’re joking, right?” Yasen said, but she knew full-well that Kushel had no sense of humour. “I’ve been training for months waiting for this competition and you’ve yet to think about it?”

“You are over-prepared. Your abilities are greater than you believe.”

“Oof!” Yasen gasped as she was knocked to the floor, dropping her spear. Kushel smiled briefly and helped her up. “I don’t think that’s quite true, Kushel.”

“This is because you compare yourself to me. I am better than average; though you cannot quite defeat me, the fact that you are almost as good as me leads inexorably to the fact that you, too, must be better than average.”

“That was almost a compliment.” Yasen said with a wink. “I suppose you’re right. I’m not as bad as I think I am.”

“You are always better than you think you are. And that’s in all parts of your life, not just combat.” Kushel said.

“Thanks. I… I wish I could be like that.” sighed Yasen. She twirled her spear again and they began fighting once more.

“Your failures hold you back. Please, forget them.” Kushel replied. “Hmph! Good hit.”

“Thanks.” gasped Yasen, running out of breath as she fought her hardest. “I wish I could forget them. Wish I could forget him.”

“Is this truly still about Raziel? It’s been three years.”

“He embarrassed us all, Kushel!” cried Yasen, and as the memories resurfaced, she became wilder and uncontrollable, battering at Kushel’s best defences with previously-unseen skill. “He made a fool of the Officials and our justice system, and thanks to his efforts, I lost my right to train new recruits!”

With a particularly strong blow, Yasen was able to knock Kushel backwards, causing him to stumble and drop his spear. He stared at her.

“Most impressive. That latent anger may be what inspires you to fight so well, Yasen.”

Yasen stood before him, breathing deeply. “I want him locked away. I want justice.”

Kushel walked over and rested a hand on her shoulder. “One day, you may get your justice. But for now, I vote that we follow Levan’s example and get a drink somewhere.”

“Alright.” Yasen replied. She followed Kushel out of the din of the arena, eyes downcast, thinking back on her past.

Cause [1.2.2]
Cause [1.2.4]

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