• hcmills

Chapter 140: Miss Communication


I wave the window away after a quick glance and flop down on the bed in my room. Like Suri said, it’s good for my Toughness.


Staring up at the ceiling, I sigh, conflicted feelings about Kaitlynn running through my head. Happiness and excitement at the return of the physical aspect of our relationship war with nerves at the thought where that might lead now that we have so much alone time. Am I making a mistake giving in to this? Can you even call it a mistake if I can’t help myself?


[Would you like to start your five minutes of questions?] Suri chimes.


I groan and dramatically drag my hands down my face. “Do I have to? Can’t you see I’m wallowing?”


[Yes yes, your drama is all very lovely,] Suri chimes, sounding a little pinched. [However, might I remind you of the fact that you managed to lose a rather vital appendage, and are thus down to maybe 30% of your usual combat capability?]


My eyelids shoot up, dread washing over me like a cold shower. “Suri, what can you tell me about the next Trial?”


[That’s more like it. And yes, you guessed it, Emma. The next Trial is combat. And you are in no shape to fight.]


Shit.



I manage to get little more detail out of Suri about the Trial. All she can tell me is that Kaitlynn and I will be facing something together that will be specially selected to provide us with ‘a good match.’ Our opponent will be ready for us in at most twelve hours, and we’ll have to start the Trial within twenty-four.


I guess this means whatever we’ll be facing will be well-protected against both Heat and Toxic Energy, at least.


The prospect that we’ll be facing this together is both a relief and an additional source of worry for me. The last thing I want to do is drag Kaitlynn down.


My eye drifts down to the stump unbidden and my stomach twists as I’m once more faced with the reality of my predicament.


I really, really hate this.


I take a deep breath to steady myself, my mind racing as I’m considering options.


“Just checking, but Regeneration level 2 isn’t going to cut it, right?”


[It is not. Level 2 allows one to direct their regenerative Lavi, providing faster regeneration and the healing of things like complicated fractures, but there’s still a big gap to cross from there to level 3, which would allow the regrowing of complex structures.]


Yeah, I figured.


I currently have 83 Trial Points. A full Skilldream for the next level of Regeneration costs 80. I’m not confident in getting it with half a Skilldream, but even if I was, considering how complex it sounds, there’s no way I could get the third level with half a Skilldream. I probably couldn’t even afford it either—not without borrowing from Kaitlynn.


In conclusion, I’m not getting my foot back before the next Trial.


Damnit damnit damnit!


Normally I would be pacing the room right now, but I can’t even do that. The walls seem to close in on me, the lack of mobility from my missing foot more stifling than ever.


I clench my hands into fists. Damnit, what am I doing, sitting here feeling sorry for myself? I need to do something, come up with a better way for me to move around than hopping.


I still have Negative Inertial Energy, at least, but by itself that isn’t enough. I need something to push off with to gain speed when I use that, and that’s exactly what I’m lacking now.


I could practise using my breath jets for sudden changes in direction. The biggest danger would be that I lose balance and stumble while doing that now that I’m one foot down, but with how high my Agility it is, it’s a feasible idea. Of course, getting better at emergency dodges is not the same as having my foot back.


Should I try and fashion a prosthetic of some sort? I have no idea how though... Damnit, I bet Alec could’ve whipped something up.


“Hey Suri, the Equipment Window wouldn’t happen to have gained any prosthetic limbs, would it?”


[I’m afraid not, Emma.]


“Are there any foot-replacing or motion-enhancing External Power-Ups?” I try.


[None that are remotely within your price range, I’m afraid.]


My eyebrows shoot up. “So they do exist?”


[There’s one that provides you with a set of six chitinous appendages coming from your back, and one that grows a set of wings. However, they’re both top-grade, and well beyond your current budget.]


I sigh. “Well, it was worth a shot.”


Wings would be awesome, though I’m not sure how useful they’d be if the fight turned out to be indoors.


Either way, it seems I won’t be flying anytime soon.


Unless...


“You sure you can’t give me a hint about how Dominique flew?” I half-joke.


[I thought I’d made myself clear, Emma. There’s no space in this competition for cheaters.]


I let out a sigh. “Fair enough.”



I try to come up with some more questions, but my heart isn’t in it, so soon enough, I hop out into the living room, eager for a change of scenery. Also, perhaps, for a specific view that’s sorely lacking in my room.


Unfortunately, Kaitlynn isn’t out yet, for once.


This living room is much the same as the last one, except for the addition of two target dummies, so I hop over to the loveseat-sized couch, and flop down, quickly losing myself in my thoughts.


Soon enough, Kaitlynn comes out with a big frown on her face, and a stubborn set to her jaws that I haven’t seen in a while. She blinks and her expression softens when she spots me. “Hey.”


I try to smile but it feels strained. “Hey.”


She takes a seat next to me with a sigh and quietly rests her head on my shoulder. I close my eyes and enjoy the proximity, feeling a bit of the tension in my stomach drain away.


“How’s it feel?” she asks softly. “Any pain?”


I shake my head gently, careful not to dislodge the warm weight on my shoulder. “It’s fine. Won’t be getting it back anytime soon though.”


After a moment, she lifts her head, straightens her spine and turns to me. “In that case, we better talk strategy. I was thinking I should take a Skilldream for Increase Momentum level 2.”


I nod, a little taken aback by her quick switch to a business-like attitude. “Ehm, yeah, I was thinking the same thing; it’ll give us a viable option for offence at least, with some practice.”


The combination attack Jacob and I developed in the past that combines Negative Inertial Energy with Positive Kinetic Energy was devastating, to say the least. I still need a better way to move around, though... At least I still have Negative Inertial Energy to help.


“I’m going to take a full Skilldream for it, then,” she continues. “No risk of failure or wasted time. And I was thinking... should our initial offence fail, maybe I could carry you on my back?”


I consider the idea, pursing my lips. Kaitlynn can carry me for quite a bit, she’s proven that. “I mean, it’s an option... It’d be risky though, considering we’ve never practised fighting like that. One slip-up with Inertia and Momentum and we turn ourselves into a smear on the wall.”


She hums. “That would also make it difficult to practice.”


I sigh. “If I could just figure out how she did it...”


Kaitlynn blinks. “How who did what?”


“Dominique,” I answer absentmindedly. “How she flew.”


Kaitlynn’s brow rises. “You think you can copy her?”


I shrug. “She was Yin. Not if I can’t figure out how she pulled it off though. The logical explanation would be some form of Gravity Manipulation like Bruce had, but that’s Yang. It just doesn’t make sense!


Kaitlynn thoughtfully scratches her cheek. “Maybe she was just high enough up that gravity was really weak?”


I shake my head. “I was up there with her... I remember feeling like gravity disappeared around her somehow, and it returning after she pushed me away.”


“Like with the portals?” Kaitlynn asks.


I blink. “What?”


“The portals,” Kaitlynn repeats. “You know, the way gravity returned just a bit after we arrive somewhere, like in a cartoon.”


My eyes widen as the puzzle pieces finally click together.


“Of course! She was using Space! Gravity’s Yin-Yang opposite!”


[Oh, so you will listen to her?] Suri grumbles.


Wait, what? Did Suri just insinuate... that she had been dropping hints?


A vague memory of a phrase about the ‘gravity of my request’ comes drifting by.


However, it wasn’t the idiomatic gravity she meant, it was Gravity!


Which is... impressive. I’m pretty sure Suri doesn’t actually speak English to me; she simply uses objective meaning to communicate what she wants to me with those odd noises that sound like chimes in my head, yet she managed to drop a hint using the translation of what she said into English.


Plus, she did it on the fly. She’s even smarter than I gave her credit for.


Damn. And I totally missed it!


I shake my head, resolving to pay closer attention to her words and meaning in the future.


“Well, it seems like you’ve got some thinking to do,” Kaitlynn says, suddenly getting up. “In the meantime, I better get started on my Skilldream. Be back in five hours.”


She presses a kiss to my cheek and marches back to her room with determination in her step.


I can’t help but stare after her.


She’s stepping up, I realise with a start. With my leg like this, she feels like it’s up to her.


The worst part is... she’s not wrong.


Except now I have a way forward. Potentially. After all, Dominique might’ve had weeks of practice, I have twenty-four hours at most.


And I still don’t have the entire picture. I’m positive she used Spatial Energy to fly, but now the question becomes how.



Author's note:

Thanks for reading! ^^

It's the best Birthday present I could ask for ;)


Watch me play Pathfinder live with the rest of the fantastic cast of Rules as Fun! We stream every Sunday!


Or go catch up on YouTube here: Rules as Fun, Dreidan Episode 1: The Lord Killed Twice

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