Chapter 34 – The Realities of Power

Chapter 34 – The Realities of Power

— Sundia, Skydiath 19, 8054 —

(Tuesday, November 8, 2129 AD)

“Okay! It looks like everyone’s here. Let’s get started!”

Kaoné stepped up to an instructors’ podium at the front of a classroom, setting down a data tablet on the podium as she turned to face the rest of the room. Sitting in the classroom seats facing her were the eight new Earthian Chaotics; Twy and Phoenix sat near the front, while Austin, Spike, and Sky sat around the middle, near the one wall with windows. Kestrel sat across the room from them, while Conrad casually sat in the back, with his feet propped up on an adjacent chair. Next to Conrad was Pierce, whose posture was surprisingly impeccable as he impatiently tapped his foot on the floor. Of the eight students, only Twy, Phoenix, Kestrel, and Pierce had folded out the small desk attached to the auditorium-style seats, each of them holding some manner of note-taking tool in preparation for class.

Kaoné briefly swept her gaze across all of the Earthians before glancing over at the closed windows. With but a thought, she used her Materiatechnism to open the blinds from afar, allowing morning sunlight to pour into the room.

“Ugh…” Austin groaned as he shielded his eyes from the light. “So fuckin’ early…”

“I find that an early start to the day can be highly beneficial to your health,” Kaoné remarked. “…Though admittedly, I’m not an Earthian.”

“It’s the same for us,” Pierce declared. “Everyone here is just being lazy.”

“Easy for you to say…” Phoenix muttered, her voice carrying the rumbling undertone of someone who had just awoken.

“I can see about pushing this class a little later in the morning,” Kaoné responded, “but for now, try to keep up.”

“Question!” Sky exclaimed, shooting her hand up into the air at the same time. Once she made eye contact with the Dean, she lowered her hand and continued, “…what’s going on? Why are you teaching us, and why are we inside?”

“I told you last night, you dolt,” Spike replied.

“No, it’s fine,” Kaoné quickly interjected. “We may have met once, but only briefly; I think re-introductions are in order.” She swept her gaze across each of the Earthians as she said, “I am Kaoné Densalin, a Materiatechnic. I’m old friends with Davídrius, and in light of recent events, I’ll be taking over your education here at WCU.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Densalin,” Twy greeted.

“Please, just call Kaoné,” the Dean replied. “Students and teachers here at WCU operate on a given-name basis, so if there are no objections, I’d like to do the same.”

“Sure thing, Teach,” Conrad responded casually.

“Do all schools go by first-names?” Sky questioned. “That seems kinda weird.”

“Not all of them, no,” Kaoné answered. “It changes based on where you are. Here in Treséd, and in East Nimaliaka, basically everyone refers to others with their given name. In Nimaliaka, Relédiaka, and Riverana, people will use surnames to refer to those with authority over them, and given names to refer to those below them. And in Tekdecé, it’s the strictest — everyone, except for friends, refers to each other by surname.”

“So if we were at your school, instead of here… then we’d be calling you Dean Densalin, instead?” Twy asked.

“Yes, that’s correct. But like I said, we’re in Treséd right now, so let’s go by their rules,” Kaoné declared, and then glanced down at the tablet she had set on the instructors’ podium. “Now, I do have a lesson to teach, so let’s settle down and get started, shall we?”

“Question!” Sky shot her hand into the air again. “Why are we inside? All of Davídrius’s lessons were outside!”

“You can’t learn everything about Chaotics just by training,” Kaoné answered. “Davídrius tends to focus a little too much on the physical aspect of being a Chaotic, so I aim to help you learn everything else. And today…” She moved her tablet to the side and tapped on it once, causing it to project the words “Chaotic Types” into the air. The Dean then turned back to the Earthians as she finished, “…we’ll be learning about the five umbrella categories of Chaotic abilities, as well as the difference between direct and indirect manipulation.”

“Direct and indirect… what?” Austin muttered.

“We’ll get to that in a moment,” Kaoné commented, and then waved her hand, causing the holographic text to change to a bullet point list containing the words “Materiatechnism”, “Navitastechnism”, “Introtechnism”, “Extratechnism”, and “Chaostechnism”. “…Now,” the Dean continued, “there are many different types of Chaotic abilities, and two of those types include nine or ten subtypes. That’s a lot to keep in mind, especially when you’re first starting out. So instead, today we’ll be learning about the five umbrella types that every Chaotic ability is categorized under. This should help you understand how Chaotics interface with their environment, as well.”

“You introduced yourself as a Materiatechnic, but it’s listed here as an ‘umbrella’ category,” Phoenix pointed out. “What’s the significance of that?”

“You picked up on that quickly,” Kaoné remarked. “It’s… something of a terminology issue. The terms ‘Materiatechnic’ and ‘Navitastechnic’, in the context of umbrella categories, refer to any Chaotic abilities that allow you to directly control matter or energy, respectively. So Geotechnism, where you control rocks, would be an example of Materiatechnism — while Electro- or Pyrotechnism would be examples of Navitastechnism, since fire and electricity are energy.”

“Aside from the part where electrons are matter, you mean?” Pierce snarked.

Kaoné rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’m aware. But the effects that an Electrotechnic can cause are typically energetic in nature, and thus they fall under Navitastechnism. You must understand: the umbrella categories were first defined a long, long, long time ago, before our collective understanding of physics realized that the line between matter and energy isn’t very clear. Their purpose now is more convention than anything, though still a useful one.” She then turned back to Phoenix. “Anyways, back to your question. Materiatechnism and Navitastechnism can both refer to specific Chaotic abilities, as well. A Materiatechnic can control all types of matter, while a Navitastechnic can control all types of energy.”

“So you can do everything that a rock user and a water user could do, and more?” Conrad questioned.

“…There’s a little more nuance to it, but basically, yes,” Kaoné replied. “Now… I’ve explained Materiatechnism and Navitastechnism, which cover matter and energy. The next three categories describe Chaotic abilities that don’t simply manipulate matter or energy; not so blatantly as Materia- or Navitastechnism, at least. Introtechnism refers to any Chaotic abilities that affect the user, and the user only. This would be things like super speed, super strength, super intelligence, shapeshifting… those are all Introtechnic abilities. Meanwhile, Extratechnism refers to any Chaotic abilities that affect the user’s environment, but in somewhat more… esoteric ways than simple matter or energy manipulation.”

“Sounds ominous,” Austin commented.

“That depends on how you look at it,” Kaoné replied. “Extratechnic abilities range from teleportation, to controlling plants, to even being able to bend the fabric of reality itself. …Though, thankfully, there exists only one Realitechnic, and he’s currently indisposed…”

“Whoa, hold up, what?” Spike interjected, “you mean there exists someone out there who can just fuckin’ wish things into being? Is that what you’re sayin’?”

“Yes, but like I said, he’s currently not a threat,” Kaoné answered. “Realitechnism is easily the most powerful Chaotic type… I can’t really think of a counter to it. Let’s only hope that we never have to fight him again…”

“You talk like you’ve fought him yourself,” Pierce remarked.

Kaoné passed Pierce an uneasy glance. “…That’s a story for another time,” she eventually commented, and returned her attention to the holgram. “Now, as for the final umbrella category: Chaostechnism. This refers to Chaotic abilities that interface directly with Chaos Energy, instead of merely using it to facilitate other powers… though there are really only two types of Chaotics within the Chaostechnism category: Chaostechnism itself, and Negatechnism, which is the ability to wordlessly negate Chaos Energy in a small area, for a limited time. With the obvious exception of Realitechnics, Chaostechnics are commonly considered to be the most powerful Chaotics, since their ability to control Chaos Energy directly allows them to generate much more devastating — or helpful — effects. On top of that, Chaostechnics are unique among Chaotics in that they’re immune to direct manipulation from all sources, while also being able to pierce any Chaos Energy-based durability that other Chaotics have.”

“Chaostechnics are pretty different from other Chaotics, huh?” Conrad deadpanned.

“Why is that…?” Twy mused.

“You also said that there’s only two types of Chaostechnics, but neither of them are the types that I’ve heard of!” Sky remarked. “Like how Phoenix is a Directed-type or something, right? What’s that mean?”

“Ah ha… well, I wouldn’t be able to tell you why Chaostechnics are so unique. They just… are,” Kaoné replied to Twy, and then shifted her gaze to Sky. “As for the ‘type’ thing, well, I was talking about Chaostechnism as an umbrella category. As a specific Chaotic ability, Chaostechnism is one of two abilities that are split into further sub-types. Psychotechnism is the other one.”

“Would explain why everyone keeps specifyin’ that I’m a Simulator and Imperator…” Austin muttered.

Kaoné nodded. “Right. Psychotechnism has ten different subtypes: Manipulators, Imperators, Readers, Dictators, Erasers, Projectors, Simulators, Disablers, Protectors, and Breakers. Chaostechnism, on the the other hand, has one basic ‘type’ that every Chaostechnic has access to, as well as eight unique subtypes: Defensive, Directed, Explosive, Movement, Sabotage, Support, Void, and Weapon.”

“…That’s a lotta words you just threw at us…” Spike responded, confusion writ across his face.

“What’s up with those names, anyways?” Pierce questioned. “What the hell do the different Psychotechnic types do? The names aren’t clear at all!”

“Sorry, I hadn’t really planned to get this deep into it today,” Kaoné apologized with a sheepish smile. “I’ll explain the subtypes better another day, when I have more time to prepare a lesson plan… the most important take-away from this should be that there are many types of Chaostechnics, and all of them are very powerful in their own right.”

“Davídrius also said we’re at higher risk for dying of, what was it… some kind of Chaotic cancer?” Phoenix commented.

“Yes… CSD. Chaotic Self-Destruction.” Kaoné nodded. “It’s unfortunately true, but it isn’t something you should have to worry about for quite some time. You only just developed your powers recently, after all. And you aren’t even an Explosive type.”

“I don’t really know if that helps…”

“I can understand your concern… Kievkenalis has more experience with CSD than I do, though. I’ll see about getting him to talk about it, and more properly explain the risks.”

“The fact that it’s a risk at all is pretty bullshit,” Austin declared. “We didn’t even choose to get powers, and now if we use them, we could fuckin’ die? That’s bullshit.”

“Yeah, that really sucks,” Conrad affirmed. “Why would anyone use their powers if they’re just going to die from it?”

“The risk of developing CSD isn’t that high, for most Chaotics,” Kaoné asserted. “I’ve looked over all of your Chaotic abilities, and Phoenix — as a Chaostechnic — is the only one who really needs to worry about it, and even then, only in the medium term.”

“You sure seem to know a lot about us,” Pierce challenged, “exactly what do you know? Do you even know all our names?”

Kaoné regarded Pierce with an annoyed expression. “…You’re Pierce Bradley, a Velocitechnic. Then there’s Conrad Ashworth, a dual Visitechnic and Audiotechnic.” She turned her attention to Kestrel and slowly swept her gaze over the group as she continued, “Kestrel Nielson, an Aerotechnic. Sky Chao, a Pyrotechnic. Spike Sutna, a dual Forcetechnic and Defensive Formtechnic. Austin Travis, a Simulator and Imperator Psychotechnic. Phoenix Myles, a Directed and Defensive-type Chaostechnic; and Twy Chao, a Hydrotechnic.”

“…Oh,” Pierce responded simply, his previous daring smirk replaced with an expression of mild surprise.

“I’ve been at this for a while. I know what I’m doing,” Kaoné declared.

“What about our weapons?” Sky questioned, momentarily summoning her green and silver staff into her hands. “What kind of Chaotic ability is this?”

“…I don’t know about that one,” the Dean responded as she eyed the staff uneasily. “…Normally, I’d just say it’s a form of Weapons Formtechnism, but… that staff is Tanivas. An Ayas Weapon. All of your weapons are Ayas Weapons, in fact, and the fact that you can summon them without access to an Ayas is… unique. As is your blanket immunity to direct manipulation.”

“…Our what?” Twy questioned in confusion.

“Direct manipulation,” Kaoné repeated. “It’s essentially what it sounds like: when you use your Chaotic ability to directly manipulate your target. Such as heating your target up with Pyrotechnism, or seizing control of your target with Imperator Psychotechnism. You’re directly controlling or effecting the matter that makes up your target.”

“I see…

“And indirect manipulation is the opposite — when you do something around your target, that then affects them. Things like throwing fireballs, or rocks. Chaotics are automatically immune to direct manipulation from other Chaotics of the same type — for example, it is impossible for someone else to directly manipulate the matter in my body, since I am myself a Materiatechnic. However, for all of you…” The Dean frowned. “Somehow, you’re all completely immune to direct manipulation, even when you shouldn’t be…”

“That doesn’t seem right,” Pierce countered. “Conrad can make me invisible, does that not count?”

“Perhaps being ‘Keys’ means you can also bypass immunity to direct manipulation…” Kaoné mused. “You certainly seem unique in many other ways. I know I can’t affect any of you, at least.”

“How the hell do you know that? Did you try fuckin’ with us?” Austin pressed.

“I can easily do so in a way that you wouldn’t notice, and that wouldn’t harm you,” Kaoné countered. “And I wouldn’t have thought to try it, if not for hearing about your immunity from SERRCom. Apparently, you fought another SERRCom Chaotic, and he was able to determine that his powers weren’t working on you the way they should.”

Austin scowled. “Mote…”

“Regardless, it’s certainly odd.”

“At this point, you have to wonder just what about us isn’t odd,” Phoenix deadpanned.

“Yeah…” Spike muttered. “Just how did we end up in this position, anyways…?”

Kaoné’s gaze lingered on Spike for a moment — then she shifted her attention to Phoenix, and then Conrad, then Austin. “…I’m sorry,” she eventually commented with a sigh, “I should have started with an even more basic topic today.”

“Basic, how?…” Twy asked.

“Accepting the responsibilities that your powers grant you.”

“Not this again…” Pierce muttered.

“Why do we have to accept anything?” Austin challenged, “we didn’t choose to get these powers. And now, everyone thinks that they have the right to decide our own lives for us!”

Kaoné stared at Austin for a moment, an uneasy frown on her face. Eventually, she looked down. “…Believe it or not, I understand how you feel. I’ve been in your position, before. Most Chaotics have.”

“Is this the part where you justify conscription, just because everyone else does it?” Phoenix retorted.

“No, it’s not,” Kaoné countered, raising her head to look Phoenix firmly in the eye. She then looked at everyone else in the room as she continued, “to be clear… I agree with you. Conscription isn’t right. In fact, I — as well as my friends, the other Deans — have been campaigning against conscription for a while now.”

Austin’s accusatory glare collapsed into a confused frown. “…Oh.”

“Why are you here, then?” Phoenix questioned, “by teaching us, you’re still participating in and propping up the system!”

“Yes, to help those that are stuck within it,” Kaoné answered. “Conscription isn’t right, but it is reality. Until that can be changed, I consider it my responsibility to help young Chaotics wherever and whenever I can — and that includes you. For now, part of helping you includes teaching you how to accept the future that awaits you, and the best way to handle that. And, for better or for worse, simply having a Chaotic ability means that you face certain risks and carry baggage that normal people don’t have to worry about. That isn’t by choice, I realize that, but it’s far from the only thing in life that isn’t.”

“Mm…” Kestrel responded with a grunt and a slow nod.

“What’s your answer to all of this, then?” Austin asked. “What would you do, if you were in our shoes? What would you do, if you were suddenly told that it was your job to risk your life?”

“I was in your shoes. 30 years ago, 20 years ago…” Kaoné looked down again. “…For over ten years after I first got my powers, I ran from them, trying to do everything that I could to not use them. Due to that, I very nearly lost my friends. In fact, I did lose one of my friends. If I’d been more confident in my abilities… then I might have been able to save her.”

An uncomfortable silence fell over the room, as Kaoné’s head remained lowered. Eventually, she took a deep breath and returned her attention to the group. “…I apologize for bringing the mood down, but this is the reality of things. If you have the power to help, to change things, and you choose not to… well, I think that’s an irresponsible choice.”

“It’d be nice if was actually a choice,” Austin retorted.

“Fair… and I agree.” The Dean took another deep breath, as she took a moment to gather her thoughts. “…Let’s approach this from another angle. In my experience, many Chaotics get too caught up in their identity as a Chaotic, and lose focus of the other things in their life. This can cause a great deal of frustration, if the one thing you know about yourself isn’t even something that you can control. Which leads to my favorite saying: you don’t have to live to fight.”

“Well, yeah. Duh,” Pierce replied dismissively. “Is that not obvious?”

“You’d be surprised,” Kaoné responded. “Don’t deride people for not coming to that conclusion on their own. I certainly didn’t. The importance of having hobbies, and other things to do in your free time, is often understated in our modern world. …Well, at least in Nimalian culture. I don’t know about Earth.”

“I think you could say the same about us,” Phoenix asserted with a bitter smirk.

“Are you really sayin’ that we should just deal with bein’ conscripted by… having a hobby?” Austin questioned incredulously.

“It’s important to have something to look forward to in life,” Kaoné declared. “Something that you’re eager to do, something that you want to live for, that you want to protect. It becomes easier to deal with fighting if you know that doing so will protect something, or someone, that you love.”

“I guess that makes sense…” Spike commented.

“Yeah, that’s actually really wise advice!” Sky remarked. “Why hasn’t anyone said that to us sooner?!”

“It’s a surprisingly difficult concept for many people to grasp, I find,” Kaoné said. “And even if you embrace the idea, it may take some time before you become comfortable with it. And that’s okay. Nothing has to happen immediately.”

“I suppose…” Austin muttered. “…We’re still stuck in a foreign land, though.”

“I actually know how that feels, too,” Kaoné replied with a forlorn smile. “…You know what? We’ve covered the topics that I’ve wanted to cover, even if not in the depth I wanted to — so let’s shift.” She clapped her hands together, her smile growing broader. “Let’s discuss hobbies. Let’s figure out what you all can do with your free time, even here in Treséd!”

“Really? Are you a therapist, now?” Pierce snarked.

“You can view it however you’d like, but this is an important part of education, as well,” Kaoné insisted. “If you’re uncomfortable with sharing, then I’ll start. When I was younger, I was into music. Listening to it, and creating, a little bit.”

“Sounds like you,” Spike remarked as he glanced over at Sky.

“Ah… I guess,” Sky responded warily, fidgeting uncomfortably as everyone else turned their attention to her. “I mean, I sang a little, but… I haven’t recently. I was never that good, anyways…”

“Oh c’mon, don’t sell yourself short,” Twy said. “You can sing really well. And your ability to project your voice is fantastic!”

“Why does that sound like a veiled insult?”

“You aren’t alone with music, anyways,” Phoenix added, and looked over at Kestrel. “Kestrel’s pretty good at writing music.”

“Really?” Sky turned toward Kestrel as well.

“…Just arrangements…” Kestrel commented.

“Your stuff still sounds pretty good, to me,” Conrad declared. “Even Pierce agrees!”

“Why do people always say things like that?” Pierce questioned irately. “I am capable of recognizing talent, you know. And unlike you, Conrad, Kestrel’s got it in spades.”

“Oh, c’mon, man. I’ve got plenty of talent.”

“In napping, sure.”

“Well it sounds like you have something in common, Sky, Kestrel,” Kaoné remarked as she glanced between the two. “What’s more, is you don’t really need special equipment. I know of a few pieces of composing software you can get for free off of the Relaynet, Kestrel, so feel free to ask if you’re curious.”

“…Thanks,” Kestrel responded curtly.

“And Sky, plenty of Nimalians love singing, even Tresédians! I think you should give it another try.”

“I’ll think about it…” Sky replied sheepishly.

“And what about the rest of you?” Kaoné turned her gaze to everyone else. “Any other creative interests? Writing, drawing, something else…?”

“I do like drawing, and painting,” Twy commented. “I brought my own supplies for drawing, but… I had to leave the paints behind.”

“Hmm…” Kaoné rubbed her chin as she thought. “…What kind of paints?”

“Mostly watercolor. Sometimes I’ll use acrylic, though. …Does that exist, here?”

“Of course it does. Watercolor, acrylic, or even oil — they all describe the material composition of the paint, and those compositions are generic enough to have developed independently in just about every society in the galaxy. Sure, Nimalian acrylic might have a slightly different chemical composition from Earthian acrylic, but you’d still use it the same way. On that note, both watercolors and acrylic are pretty popular here on Nimalia. They’re a little difficult to get in Treséd… but if you give me until tomorrow, I can make you some.”


“Of course!” Kaoné grinned. “I am a Materiatechnic!”

“Man, I wish I could just conjure anything I wanted out of thin air…” Austin muttered.

“Well, it’s a little more difficult than that,” the Dean commented, and then shifted her attention back to Twy. “But it’s still no problem. If you’re interested, of course.”

“…Well, I won’t complain,” Twy replied. “I am a little interested in seeing if I can paint with my Hydrotechnism…”

“Oh, that’s a fantastic idea! I love it! If you pursue that, I’d love to see what you come up with!”

Twy smiled sheepishly. “Uh… right. Thanks.”

“And what about you, Austin?” Kaoné turned her gaze to the lanky Psychotechnic. “Any creative pursuits?”

“Uh…” Austin scratched his goatee uneasily. “Well… I mostly just spend my free time playing video games. I guess I write, a little. And I like playing tabletop RPGs, though I have a hard time finding people to play with…”

“Ha! You play tabletop RPGs?” Pierce snorted in amusement. “Fuck, you really are a dweeb, aren’t you?”

“Hey!” Austin turned to glare at Pierce. “There’s nothing wrong with that!”

“No, but it still makes you a dweeb, dweeb.”

“Pierce, cut it out,” Phoenix reprimanded.

“You know, I’ve always been kinda interested in those kinds of games,” Conrad commented, and then nodded toward Austin. “If you wanna give one a shot, let me know, I might be willing to play.”

“Me too,” Kestrel added.

“Ah, don’t forget me!” Twy quickly interjected. “Also, Austin, half the reason your tabletop sessions fall through is because you can’t keep up with them!”

“…Ha ha, I guess I can’t deny that,” he replied sheepishly, and then glanced over at Conrad and Kestrel. “…Are y’all really interested, though?”

“Why would we say that we were if we weren’t?” Conrad questioned, as Kestrel nodded affirmatively.

“Fair enough…”

“Excuse me, what’s a tabletop RPG?” Kaoné asked.

“It’s group make believe, but with rules,” Pierce declared. “It’s pretty stupid.”

“C’mon, Pierce. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” Conrad insisted.

“Please. You don’t have to try something to know you won’t like it. Or that it’s stupid.”

“While somewhat true, it’s still no excuse to deride others for enjoying something that you don’t,” Kaoné reprimanded, and then looked over at Austin. “Sorry. What does it mean?”

“RPG stands for role-playing game,” Austin commented, and then rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. “Uh… Pierce actually, um… isn’t completely wrong about what they are…”

“I see. Hmm. Well I’m not too familiar with, uh, RPGs, but I think I’ve heard of a similar concept, here on Nimalia… well, if you need help setting something up, just let me know. I’ll try my best to help.”

“Uh, got it,” Austin replied.

“What a dweeb,” Pierce remarked as he shook his head. “You should try a real hobby. Like sports.”

“It’s no wonder that he doesn’t, when we have people like you to represent us,” Phoenix interjected with a roll of her eyes. “It doesn’t have to be either or.”

“I take it you both do sports, then,” Kaoné interjected. “What kind?”

“Track and field,” Pierce replied proudly, only to frown a moment later. “…Though having super speed would take a lot of the challenge out of it, I guess…”

“Hmm… I think Christeané or Davídrius might have solutions for that,” Kaoné commented. “East Nimaliaka in particular has a lot of Introtechnic-related infrastructure, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a way of allowing Velocitechnics to compete fairly in running sports. Even if the solution is as simple as a bunch of CENT fields.”

“Damn. I’ll have to check that out, then.”

“And bring me with you when you do,” Phoenix insisted. “It doesn’t look like WCU has much in the way of track and field.”

“That’s true…” Kaoné mused. “Even if it did, the Nimalian versions of ‘track’ are no doubt different from Earth’s. The campus does have those two practice fields, though. Would those be enough for you?”

“For running, sure. But shot put and javelin throwing need special equipment.”

“…Yeah, I don’t know either of those.” The Dean laughed sheepishly before continuing, “I guess they’re throwing sports, though? Interesting. I suppose one Nimalian equivalent would be the arc toss, which is basically just trying to throw a ball through a specific arc, marked by hoops. The closer you are to the center of every hoop, the better your score. A contest in dexterity, essentially.”

“Sounds like your kind of thing,” Pierce remarked as he passed Phoenix a glance.

“Yeah, I’d be willing to give this ‘arc toss’ thing a shot,” Phoenix declared.

“Good to hear. I’ll talk with Davídrius about setting something up. I know sports equipment has been on his list of things to get for a while, so hopefully it won’t take too long.” Kaoné glanced over at Spike, and then at Conrad. “And what about the two of you?”

“Ah, don’t mind me,” Conrad commented dismissively. “I already have everything I need.”

Pierce snorted. “Like a bed?”

“Yep. Surprisingly comfy, too.”

“I see. So long as you’re happy,” Kaoné remarked, and then turned to Spike.

“I’m fine, too,” Spike quickly stated. “I’m in to martial arts, and I can do some of that training on my own. And I can do basic training with Karísah.”

“Martial arts… I know that can be a little difficult to keep up with as a Forcetechnic. …Hmm, you know, I think Christeané might know some Forcetechnic-focused arts that you could look into. I can put you in contact with him, if you’d like.”

“Huh… he’s a Forcetechnic, too, yeah?” Spike nodded in approval. “I think I’ll take you up on that. I’m totally down for learning a new martial art. Especially an alien one!”

“Well, I don’t know about calling us ‘aliens’, but, uh, I’ll see what I can do.”

“You keep saying that a lot,” Pierce remarked while eying Kaoné suspiciously. “Why are you so willing to help us, huh? What do you get out of this?”

“It’s an educator’s responsibility to make sure that their students are doing well,” the Dean declared. “And maintaining healthy hobbies is an important part of doing well not just in school, but in life in general. To that end, I’m more than happy to help you all.”

“Well I, for one, appreciate it,” Phoenix commented as she shot Pierce an annoyed glance.

“Yeah!” Sky exclaimed. “The fact that you’re taking us seriously is pretty cool. You should teach Davídrius to do that!”

“Ah ha ha… we just have different styles, that’s all,” Kaoné replied with an uneasy laugh, and then glanced down at the tablet sitting on the podium. “…Hmm, we still have some time left. In that case, let’s get back to the original topics, shall we? Let’s start with Materiatechnism…”