“By the way, Simon.” Then, Timothy asked, “Why aren’t you with your group and starting your own Enlightened beings cult?”
Simon gazed at Timothy strangely at the way Timothy said cult and laughed. “I never started that group. I only stated that’s what we are.”
“Then you’re not going to attempt to escape here again?”
“I’m going to wait a bit on that. Something else piqued my interest.”
“I’ll tell you when I find out. Plus,” Simon leaned over and wrapped one of his arms around Marcus’ shoulder, “I wanted to hang out with my teacher once in a while, so here I am.”
Marcus peeled away Simon’s hand off his shoulder, not liking how he called him teacher. “I’m not your teacher.”
“What are you talking about? Crystal and I are your disciples, right, Crystal?” Simon’s eyes beg Crystal to tell him that what he said is true.
“Something like that.” Crystal shrugged her shoulders. Not caring about what they were called.
“You lost that privilege to call me that when you started deterring the new blood away from what we need to do as an Ouroboros.”
“Come on, teach, you know just as well as I that staying at this facility is a joke. We don’t have any freedom, and we’re forced to be used as test subjects. Now that forty-nine years have passed, do you think we’ll get the same treatment as before?”
“I told you, leave that side to me.” Marcus waved his hand; he stabbed his fork into his chicken alfredo. “Things that you need to worry about are getting strong. We’ll get out of here when the time is right.”
“I’m not so sure about that.” Jones glanced over his shoulder. He was looking at the two security guards standing beside the doors. “I have never seen those guys before, but the security around this place is no joke.”
“Wait. Wait. Wait.” Timothy raised his hands, shaking them to stall the conversation from deterring too far. “Simon and Crystal are your disciples? When did this happen? Why wasn’t I informed of this?” He looks back and forth from Crystal, Simon, and Marcus with a frown on his face.
“What are you talking about? Why in the world would we need to inform you of anything?” Crystal was stupefied by Timothy’s answer.
“Because I want to join,” Timothy replied seriously. “I know how badass Marcus is, and he is no pushover. Learning from him is like learning from a highly trained master.”
“You don’t even know half of it.” Simon chuckled, giving Timothy a smug smile. “He’s been in swat, and the Navy Seals Special Ops Force.”
“Wha-?” Timothy’s mouth hangs half-open.
Simon leaned forward, “I’ll let you in on a secret. He’s been chosen as one of the top candidates. You could say he’s the cream of the crop.”
“Stop glorifying something that isn’t true.” Marcus waved his hand in front of him, trying to change the subject.
Simon snorted and crossed his hand in front of him. “You know what I say is true. That’s how you can bend half the people in Seventh Sanctum by their back without even lifting a finger. I’m not stupid, you know.”
“That’s old news.”
“See. He even admitted it.”
Timothy whistled. “Master, please let me be your disciple.” He started to bend into a bow.
“For the love of God.” Marcus let out an exasperated sigh. “This is just getting stupid.”
“What are you talking about? This is going to be the best day of my life. Kicking ass and learning from a pro, sign me up.” Timothy snapped his finger in excitement.
Crystal sighed and shook her head at Timothy’s words. Simon had a smug look while he coyly looked at Marcus. Timothy was staring at Marcus like a puppy dog that has found its new owner. Jones was completely lost in what was going on, while Alexus just dipped his head and ate to fill the food that he desperately needed.
They continued to talk for a bit longer; Marcus was the first to get up as the other followed.
“Are you going to teach us something new today?” Timothy was begging Marcus with his hand shaking in front of his face.
Marcus’ eye’s furrowed. He then snapped around towards Simon. “I’m not, but my DISCIPLE Simon will. He’ll teach you guys the basics for a while.”
“Hyuck. You can’t mean him?” Timothy wasn’t pleased that he was being trained by Simon himself.
“Are you a chicken?” Simon came over, slipped his arm around Timothy, and chuckled. “Break. Break. Break.”
“No. I’m not,” Timothy stated, offended. “I can take you on with my eyes closed.”
Jones was having a blast seeing Timothy being put in place by Simon. “You don’t mind if I join?”
“More the merrier,” Simon replied, then Simon glanced over his shoulder towards Crystal and Alexus. “You guys in?”
“Sure,” Alexus replied, wondering what Simon would teach, especially since he learned from
Marcus himself, making this a special case.
“What about you, Crystal?”
“Great. Let’s go to one of the training rooms.” Simon pulled away from Timothy.
“I’ll leave you guys to it,” said Marcus.
“Wait, then what are you going to do?” Timothy asked Marcus.
“Going to do some personal business. I’ll see you guys later.” Marcus left first, leaving all of them behind.
“He’s in quite a hurry,” Jones replied.
“Leave him be. We got work to do.”
Everyone walked out of the cafeteria; they headed towards the elevator and went to the twenty-fifth floor.
“You know what’s strange,” Jones replied. “Is that even after one hundred and forty-nine years, nothing has changed. Instead, everything looks brand spanking new, as if they renovated the building just for us.”
“They probably did it, so we don’t get too overwhelmed,” said Crystal.
“Kind of considerate of them. Though, is that the reason?”
“I’m not so sure, but I feel like something fishy going on here, and I can smell it a mile away.” Jones was dead set on his thoughts. He glanced around the hallway, giving every new employee of Seventh Sanctum a weary glare.
“Calm down; you’re always on edge for no apparent reason.” But, Timothy replied. He rolled his eyes; it’s not like we’re all going to be ferried away to get put under the knife.”
“We don’t know that,” Jones replied, not liking the thought of being put under the knife. “It is one hundred forty-nine years. We’re not all locked away and experimenting right now.”
“Oh, please. Don’t jinx what we already have going for us.”
Jones grumbled and shook his head. “Too many good things always need to balance themselves out. But, mark my words, there’s more to this than meets the eyes.”
“Uh, huh. Just keep dreaming. I will be a badass like Marcus while you hide in your little corner and whine like a child.”
“What did you say?” Jones stepped up and grabbed Timothy’s shoulder.
Simon stepped in. He grabbed Jones by the arm and shook his head. “Don’t let him get to you. It’s not worth your trouble.”
Jones clenched his fist, took a deep breath, and let out his stress. “You’re right.”
Alexus was amazed at how easily Simon dealt with Jones, but what was more surprising was that Jones took Simon’s words quite well and didn’t push the subject any further than necessary.
“Wimp,” Timothy whispered.
Simon snatched Timothy by the collar and spun him into a chokehold. “Be careful of what you say.” He lowered his head towards his ears. “Because one of these days that mouth of yours will get you into trouble, and when it comes, nobody is going to save you. This is my warning, during my classes, don’t start something that you can’t finish.”
Timothy grimaced as pain shot through his arm. He was suddenly pushed forward, stumbling until he caught himself. “Sheesh, what got stuck up your ass?” He rolled his shoulder to loosen the pain that Simon had given.
They finally arrived in front of the door to an empty room. It was a simple room with mirrors lined up on all corners of the wall. Spread out on the floor were blue pads that could cushion a simple fall, and even across the wall were wooden weapons and weights for people to use neatly in a row.
“What do you have planned for us?” Alexus asked, walking into the room and glancing around.
Simon replied as he stood in the middle of the room. “We’re going to go over some basic fighting forms and go from there. You must remember that your posture, form, and balance are important in any fight.” He stood still with his hand in front of him. “Right now, I’m in a relaxed stance. You’ll be in this form for most of your life, going on about your business. Now, on infrequent occasions, people get pulled into life-threatening situations, but as Ouroboros, we will always live one foot in death and another other in life.”
Alexus walked over toward Simon to better look at what Simon was doing.
“The reason is because of Demons. At least one out of a thousand people are either possessed or in the process of being possessed. People who are in the process of being possessed aren’t fully possessed, meaning that the human soul is still there.”
“Does that mean we can save them?” Alexus asked if the thought of helping these people out of this predicament from a demon possession made him feel a lot better than killing people.
Simon turned towards him, and he nodded his head. “Yes, though we haven’t found a way yet.”
“We’re still looking for an answer. While the people that are completely possessed are a lost cause. The original body’s host had their soul devoured, and there is nothing we can do but kill the body, so the Demon doesn’t wreck society any further than they should.”
“How do you know you are fully possessed and in the process of being possessed?”
“That is a good question; the answer is simple. You just know.”
Alexus wasn’t sure he liked that answer. It just was too ambiguous and went on with complete instinct. The chance of his instinct being wrong was fifty-fifty, and he didn’t want to kill an innocent. “I don’t think that’s good enough for me.”
“I understand.” Simon nodded his head. “There are three clues if one is completely possessed. The first is one’s gut instinct, which warns that a person isn’t human. Second is the strange smell that sticks on their body, and that’s death.”
“Wait, death has a distinct smell?”
“Absolutely, and it’s more pungent on demons. We Ouroboros can smell it a lot more easily on completely possessed humans. It comes with being reborn; all of us have it.”
“Then the third one?”
“Their eyes.” Simon tapped the side of his head next to his eyes.
Alexus felt a bit stupid for even asking. “You’re telling me to stare at them to see if they’re demons or not? Don’t you know we’ll be looked at strangely if we just stop and stare at people?”
Simon shook his head, “It’s instantaneous. You’ll know once you lock eyes, even for a split moment. The tinge of red, sometimes ghastly green color that they give off that no normal humans have. With these three signs, it’s a definite guarantee. I recommend that you kill these demons in their human form before they even attempt to change. When they change, they become more powerful, and their speed triples. That is why you must look past their human self and go in for the attack.”
Alexus wasn’t so sure he liked the thought of that, but he knew it was either him or the Demon. Also, seeing them change wasn’t something that he wanted, especially in their proper form. The croc lady was twistedly morphed into humans and crocodiles. Gluttony was a step above where his form made one want to hurl.
“So, in this relaxed state. There are different positions that we can attack from. We can either go straight into a fighting stance or use a hidden hand technique that attacks when the person least expects it. Those tactics are mostly used in Ninjutsu techniques. Almost all the martial arts out there go into their relaxed position, but today we’re going with a regular fighting stance.” Simon replied. He stepped forward, tucked his head in, and brought up his hand in front of him that reminded me of a boxing stance. “This is a regular fighting stance. From here, you will be able to kick, punch, or go into techniques.”
Simon motioned Crystal over. Crystal nodded and stepped forward. ”Attack me.”
With a strike to his face, Simon slightly dodged her fist and moved a step forward. His distance was shortened; his fist barely stopped to her face. “You can either go on the offensive like what I had just done, or you could go on the defensive depending on what Martial Arts you want to learn. This time just grab my arm.”
Crystal backed up and reached over to grab his arm. In the moment of contact, he stepped forward and twirled around her, dragging her in a wide circle around his body. His hand fluidly rotated, and with a harsh tug, he flipped her with just one hand. A loud thud could be heard on the mat as her body hit the floor.
“Woah.” Timothy whistled. “We were seriously missing out. All we ever did was gun training; where was all this in the curriculum?” He waved his hand in front of him.
“The organization doesn’t usually teach you these things unless you ask for it.”
Crystal rolled over and got onto her feet as if nothing was wrong with her.
“That’s so weird,” Jones replied. “Another strange thing about this company.”
“It isn’t; the past owner of Seventh Sanctum was a gun advocate, the majority of his employees had to learn it, but there were a few exceptions. Even his motto of all Ouroboros must know how to defend themselves against future demons, using guns was a must,” said Simon. He straightened his back. “He was a strange fellow but not a bad person.”
“Then why did you want to suddenly leave?” Alexus asked, curious about his answer. “If he wasn’t such a bad guy, it doesn’t make sense why you want to leave this place.”
“Like I told you, freedom. That was the only reason.”
Alexus understood the concept of freedom well. The ability to go where one pleases and do what one wants, not confined to these walls, was a privilege he learned quite quickly.
“But, it seems there are a little more secrets about this place that I need to decipher, and it seems Marcus knows the majority of them. So,” Simon clapped his hand in front of him. “Let’s get back to what we were doing. “First, we’ll start with simple punches and forms.”
Throughout the day, they trained until Alexus’ muscles were aching. Even though it was a simple form without much technique, the intensity, repetitions, and speed made it into cardio that pumped up his heart. There were many times Simon came over to correct his form. Plus, he didn’t quite get it as quickly as the others.
Alexus had to stop putting himself down and focus on the task. But, unfortunately, the more he thought, the form became sloppier.
“Keep your hands up in front of you even after stopping.” Simon was beside Alexus, correcting his flaws. “You want to make sure that your surroundings are clear from any possible attack before relaxing. That split-second drop of your hands could cost you your life, and in a fight, seconds count.”
Simon walked around the room, looking at the forms of everyone else. Jones was in front of Alexus as he paired off, while Timothy and Crystal were together. “If you get punched, deal with it, this is no friendly training that we’re having here, and the pain that you feel now won’t even compare to the hits that a demon can do. So pain tolerance is another thing you must learn to cope with and push through.”
Alexus knew precisely what Simon meant; the life and death battle he had gone through twice wasn’t compared to anything he had felt before. So when Jones accidentally punched him a couple of times, he could shake it off as if it wasn’t such a big deal. Maybe getting kicked around a couple of times did wonders to pain tolerance so that it didn’t bother him as much as he thought it would.
“Don’t let my few punches scare you,” Jones replied with a chuckle.
“I’m not so sure about that,” Alexus replied, watching his movement carefully.
“Your goal is to dodge the punches the way I taught you. Not too much over the movement creates large openings, but small tight movements. Use your arms to block if you have to.”
Jones took a quick jab forward; Alexus barely missed by a couple inches, using his hand to redirect the punch. Stepping in, he came in with a cross punch. Jones shuffled away as if there was nothing wrong. He realized that Jones had quite good flexibility for someone his size. He was quick on his feet, making his punches and jabs look like they weren’t hitting anything.
On the other hand, Jones always seems to land a couple of hits here and there, making Alexus frustrated at how easily Jones was getting in his defense.
“Don’t get too frustrated,” Jones replied. “I had a bit of boxing in my younger days. With practice, you’ll get better, trust me. Plus, I could see that you’re quite frustrated.”
“How do you know?” Alexus was caught off guard by his statement.
“I can easily read you. Every time you mess up, or I land a hit, your expression tells me.” Jones replied as he motioned his hand to his face. “You’re letting this get to you too much. Relax, and just enjoy the fight. Less thinking and more feeling.” They circled each other.
Alexus took a deep breath and let all the pent-up frustration go. Emptying his mind wasn’t an easy task, but he tried to clear it as best as he could. Then, zoning back into the fight, he brought up his hands in front of him. Jones’ whole posture seemed to change. He became a bit tense as he was watching him like a hawk.
It wasn’t easy to read Jones’ movements; they were quick and difficult to dodge. Alexus was hit a couple of times; he still traded a few blows with Jones. They weren’t as powerful as Jones’, but it still got a few good hits.
This in itself was another experience that he didn’t expect. His posture, forms, and even punches were becoming sharper than before. He was thrilled that he was getting slightly better.
Unfortunately, his mind started to clutter again, causing him to fumble in his form. Jones was able to snap in and take advantage of his disorganized thoughts.
A couple of punches that hit Alexus’ stomach, chest, and arms slipped through his defense as he stumbled backward from the sharp pain. He quickly brought up his hand, cleared my thoughts as best as possible, and went in for an attack. Jones shuffled backward, trying his best not to get caught up by my pace.
Alexus jabbed a couple of faints and surprised Jones with a cross punch that he didn’t see. He stumbled backward in surprise; without a second thought, he pounced forward, not letting his prey escape. They fought until both of their arms got black and blue.
“Nice~” Jones replied with a smile. “You’re getting better.”
“It’s all thanks to your advice,” Alexus replied.
Suddenly, Alexus heard a shout of pain and a loud thump onto the mat.
“Damn it, Crystal! Did you have to do a shoulder throw on me?!” Timothy cried out, pissed off.
“Yes,” Crystal without a care in the world.
“We’re supposed to be practicing punches, not techniques.”
“I felt threatened.” She replied bluntly.
“Feel threatened by my ass! You purposely did it!”
“If you say so.” She shrugged.
Timothy grumbled as he got back on his feet; he glared at Crystal and clucked his teeth. “Fine. You’ll get it back one day. You’ll see. Mark my words.”
“Try me.” Crystal replied with a beautiful smile on her face. “I am available anytime for round two.”
“You better watch your back.”
“Don’t worry, I will.”
“Well then, our little class is over. Let’s meet up again, same time tomorrow?” Simon clapped his hands, dismissing the class
“Sure,” Jones replied.
“Good for me,” Alexus said, while Crystal nodded her head and Timothy grunted in approval. Unfortunately, his first lesson of the day was over, and his body was screaming in pain.