Chapter 20 – A Kiss Of Betrayal Or A Kiss Of Death?

  • by lemuel moo
Gale quickly returned to where Clere and Satori were before the group training ended. Clere then asked Gale a few questions.
“How strong is Reynard now?”
“You shall see later!”
Kasumi took the stage back from Hideki and gave some instruction.
“Alright, students! It’s time to evaluate your progress in sword techniques so far. Each of you grabs your protective gear and find a partner to spar with! We will do it pair by pair while the rest of you will watch to take note of their strengths and flaws!
As we have thirty students, every student will spar at least once, and this session will conclude at fifteen rounds. At the end of each round, I will comment on both of your progress.”
Each student was bustling around to find a partner for themselves. One of the guys from the kendo club, who was bald, buff and tall, went to Reynard to request for a challenge.
“Hey Reynard! Let’s spar together as usual!”
When Satori saw it was, she clicked her tongue in disgust. Gale and Clere looked at Satori and wondered why she did that.
“That Anthony likes to pick on Reynard! Every single sparring session from kendo club to these training sessions here, Anthony will always choose Reynard as his sparring partner!”
“That’s perfect! I would like to see how it goes!”
Satori looked at Gale with the corner of her eyes.
“You are quite the sadist, aren’t you! Reynard is going to feel so much pain!”
“You are absolutely correct! I am quite the sadist!”
Gale made hand signs to Kasumi to ask her to put Reynard’s matchup all the way to the last. Kasumi nodded in agreement and did so.
Once every student had a partner, they form two straight rows, with each student facing their partners. Each pair will spar between the rows in full view of every student. Hideki was the referee for each match while Kasumi observed the fights.
Clere noticed that many of the kendo club members won their partners spectacularly. There was a nagging suspicion in her heart that these members chose weak opponents for themselves to impress Jacinta and Kasumi.
It was time for Jacinta to step up, and her partner made a request before they began their match. “Would you date me if I win?”
“Sure, if you win.”
Jacinta gripped her bamboo sword and released a little of her killing aura. Gale immediately perked up and observed Jacinta intently. Clere saw Gale’s reaction, and so she asked him about it.
“What’s wrong?”
“…I may be mistaken, but I seem to have seen Jacinta’s breathing technique before. I’m trying to recall where have I seen it…”
As Jacinta’s opponent charged towards her, Jacinta did not show any mercy. She immediately appeared before the opponent in a flash and swung her bamboo sword hard.
The bamboo sword snapped, and her opponent instantly kissed the ground. As they wore protective helmets, the opponent was not hurt, but the helmet was dented. Jacinta had measured her strength accurately so that she could finish the match in one strike and yet not hurt her opponent.
Everyone was awestruck at Jacinta’s greatness, and they applauded Jacinta. The opponent took out his helmet in shock and quickly scurry away back to his seat.
“Jacinta is pretty good isn’t she, Gale?”
“Yeah, but knowing where I have seen her breathing technique is more important to me.”
After a few more rounds, It was finally time for Anthony and Reynard to spar. Reynard’s bamboo sword was shivering as he held it tightly, and Anthony stood at the opposite end of the lane. Anthony was smirking with confidence as he readied himself in his battle stance.
At the end of Hideki’s countdown, the match began, and Anthony immediately dashed forward to knock Reynard out. Gale had privately told Reynard to use the [Mizushima Waterfall Slash] that he had just learned for his matchup.
Reynard swung an uppercut slash as hard as he could, and a huge wave of energy emerged from his bamboo sword as he swung upwards! The energy wave was so big and thick, it crashed and destroyed the dojo’s roof, together with parts of Kasumi’s house that was linked to the dojo! Anthony was sent flying together with the energy wave, and he ended up on the other corner of Kasumi’s house!
Everyone was shell-shocked and stunned, and gaped with their mouths wide open while Gale burst out laughing hysterically and rolling all over the floor!
It took a moment for Kasumi to realize that her dojo and house were damaged, so she immediately came to Gale with her hands on her hips and glared at him, while Gale kept laughing at the absurdity of the situation!
“Ka-Kasumi! Send me the bill later! I will pay for the damages!”
“You better! Why didn’t you warn me about it?!”
Reynard realized he just destroyed part of Kasumi’s house and dojo, and he immediately went to her and apologized emphatically! 
“Don’t worry about it, Reynard! It’s Gale’s fault. I’m glad that you became strong so quickly!”
Jacinta couldn’t believe what had happened and immediately grabbed Reynard by his collar.
“W-Why have you become so strong?! Did you take drugs?! I know you want to be strong, but please stay away from abusive substances!”
“N-No, I-I…”
Satori could not believe how much Gale had powered-up Reynard while Clere had her hands on her face as she couldn’t stomach the childishness of Gale. Hideki knew that Gale had made Reynard strong, and wondered how did he do it.
The training session ended abruptly as the dojo was damaged and it was impossible to continue the class.

Gale had a checkbook with him, and he advanced some cash for Kasumi while Hideki was calling some companies for repair. Jacinta, Clere, and Satori were waiting for them to finish what they needed to do and all of them were in Kasumi’s living room.
“Money well-spent! Hahahaha!”
Kasumi glared at Gale as she took his cheque from him.
“It’s not just the money, you know?! Do you see how it will inconvenience both Hideki and me?! What if it rains?!”
“Call me if you need any help! I caused this anyway so I apologize!”
Reynard approached Gale with trembling and fear, and he asked a few questions.
“W-What’s happening to me?! What did you do to my body?!”
“Don’t worry about it! I supercharged your body with energy, so you gained momentary strength which you are not taught to control! After an hour, the energy you feel on your fingertips will seep into your body and become your own, thus swinging like that again will not result in this much damage since you are not taught how to release your energy through weapons.
You have grown twenty years of strength for an average martial artist in an instant, so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with Kasumi’s classes anymore! I’m also very sure that those guys in kendo club will not dare to bully you any further. If they do, swing your bamboo sword at them again, and it will scare them!”
Kasumi pulled Gale’s ear, and the latter yelled in pain.
“There are many ways to help Reynard, but you chose the method that would be most comical to you, isn’t it?!”
Gale gave a sheepish smile in response.
Clere was wondering about the [Mizushima Waterfall Slash] that Reynard used earlier. Somehow the sword energy that was released seemed very different from Hideki’s or Kasumi’s.
”Gale, didn’t Reynard use the [Mizushima Waterfall Slash]? Why wasn’t Anthony cut since he took a direct hit?”
”That’s because Reynard had not learned how to compress his energy and sharpen it to his sword. The energy that he released was energy that he unconsciously cloaked his bamboo sword with due to the temporal supercharging effect.
As a result, his sword energy wave did not have an edge. If it had an edge, I wouldn’t be laughing about it.”
”Supercharging is to over saturate a person’s body with power above more than he can usually take. If you do it right, the excess power flows on top of your skin for a while, and you gain temporal excess strength and defense for a period until your body adjusts itself and absorbs the excess energy into your body.
If you do it wrong, it hurts the person by overstressing the energy circuit within his body. It causes internal injuries, and in worse cases, permanently destroys the energy circuit and making him unfit to practice martial arts ever again.”
From Gale’s explanation, Clere realized he used a highly advanced technique that many martial artists did not know of. Clere was not as good as Athena in combat skills, but her knowledge did not pale in comparison to Athena as she spent many hours studying ancient texts and contemporary research over it.
Clere had not heard of supercharging before, and she was determined to look deeper into that subject when she gets home.
Jacinta looked as if she had a mountain of questions waiting for Gale. She couldn’t understand how Gale had so much power within him, and yet she was able to pin him down easily without question.
Suddenly, Jacinta had an inspired thought, so she rushed before Gale and grabbed his hands before asking him a question.
“Do you happen to be a ‘battery’?”
‘Battery’ was a term used to describe rare individuals who had no talent for fighting, but possessed immense energy from birth. People who were ‘batteries’ were usually plagued with a rare ailment where prohibited them from practicing martial arts, or they may lack the mental capacity to understand fighting techniques.
Gale could not believe how disillusioned Jacinta was, and he was wrecking his brains on how he should answer her.
“Err… I actually can fight. Didn’t I try to explain to you sometime back?”
“That’s not true! I pinned you to the ground several times and every time you could not muster up any strength to resist me! Perhaps you have a special ailment or something that makes you unable to fight!”
Jacinta was right that Gale had a special ailment that made him unable to resist Jacinta, but it was still far from what she had imagined, and he knew it. He was reluctant to talk about his weakness towards girls because people would ask why. However, Jacinta was a very earnest person, and she was convinced in her heart that she needed to be a bodyguard to Gale.
“Indeed, I have a special ailment. I can’t fight girls. Outside of that, I can fight.”
Jacinta stared at Gale for a long time as her ears were unable to comprehend what was just spoken.
“Really? You can’t fight girls?”
“Really. I can’t fight girls.”
“I’ve never heard of such a medical condition.”
“And yet it is true. You can ask Clere and Kasumi about it.”
Clere and Kasumi nodded their heads emphatically. Reynard was shocked that such a medical ailment existed as well.
“I see, so you are a ‘battery’ and your special ailment is that you can’t fight girls. Interesting. Is that why you are always so weak when I overpower you?”
Gale nodded his head, hoping that Jacinta would end her bodyguard complex on him that very moment.
“This means you really need a bodyguard! How can you not be able to fight girls?! And why are you even a bodyguard to Clere in the first place?! It puts her and you in danger!”
Reynard nodded his head emphatically, and Gale wanted the ground to swallow him up. Kasumi and Clere sighed in unison, and Satori thought Jacinta was the most disillusioned girl she had ever met in her entire life.
Hideki came back to the living room to report on the status of the repairs.
“The construction company will come and access the damage first thing in the morning. Then they will give us a quote, and they will also begin the repairs immediately. 
I have described the damage to them verbally, and they estimated that it might take a week to complete the repairs. Meanwhile, we will have to postpone our training sessions.”
Kasumi looked at Gale at that moment, and Gale apologetically bowed towards her.
“Drop by daily after school. You need to be around to help around my house if we need anything, is that clear?”
“Yes, Ms. Kasumi.”

“Selphie, give me a report of the things I want to know.”
“Alright, give me a moment.”
Lucy and Selphie were in an underwater office, and they were situated in one of the secret bases of the Black Diamond Syndicate. The walls of Lucy’s office were made of reinforced glass, and one could look through the walls to admire the marine life, but the light did not penetrate through if it was viewed from the outside.
During daytime, life under these waters could be seen. Schools of fishes, stingrays, and occasional sharks would roam near the office, as they were unaware that someone would be admiring them. The base rests among the coral reef, and it stretched for many miles from the east to the west.
Lucy loved to stare mindlessly at the fishes and the corals whenever she has time for herself. It was one of the few indulgences that she could afford to distract herself from her work.
Selphie took her tablet and began to sieve through information that she felt Lucy should know immediately. She’s Lucy’s secretary and confident. 
“The World Alliance’s MAPR group had reached a new milestone in psychic powers research recently. The super soldiers created by them now have an average lifespan of ten years from eight years.”
The World Alliance was an organization made up of many countries and authorities throughout the globe. Participating countries contribute monthly to their coffers, and part of the money goes to the Magic And Psychic Research (MAPR) where research was conducted to utilize magic and psychic powers for war.
It was only a year ago where super soldiers created by the MAPR could last for eight years, and four years ago, they had an average lifespan of 7 years. 
“Their progress is pretty quick. Can you find out why their psychic powers research have accelerated so quickly in recent years? Something is amiss with their rate of progress, and we need to find out how did they achieve this feat.”
“Roger that.
In regards to their magic research, there have been no significant changes in MAPR. All they have been doing was to gather magic users at Albatross Academy to research them, but their rate of progress in magic research had taken a significant dip. 
Unlike the psychic users, they have not been able to gather magic users and monopolize them since many of these magic users have assimilated and hidden within the general public.”
“…That’s good to know. Perhaps they refocused their resources in accelerating their psychic research instead. Magic users tend to be very elusive, and it will take the MAPR some time to discover strong magic users that could aid them in their research.
We still need to keep Clere Sigrun close to us so that we can extract the [Key] if the need arises.”
“…It’s one thing to get the [Key], but would Agatha Sigrun cooperate with us?”
There was a moment of pause from Lucy.
“At the moment, we don’t see eye to eye with the issues at hand. They have been supplying intelligence to us, and I am reluctant to antagonize them because we need their help, but the [Key] might be our only hope where we can stand toe-to-toe with the World Alliance’s forces in strength.
Even If we have to resort to force, we will have to bite the bullet and do it.” 
“Lastly, we have no news when the Twin Stars Syndicate will attack us, but we can be sure Athena’s report is accurate that they are up to something. Our agents have reported that they have been gathering many 3rd party assassins in recent days and they are actively bolstering their strength.”
Upon hearing that, Lucy turned and faced Selphie instead of the fishes.
“Did they find out about my weakness? Why is their timing so impeccable? Do we have a mole in our organization?”
“I have started an internal investigation within our organization to sniff out moles, but so far we have found nothing. Without a doubt, somebody must have leaked your weakness out, and that has emboldened the Twin Stars Syndicate into action.
In any case, we must be prepared against their attacks when you are in hibernation mode, Lucy!”
“…How’s my bodyguard doing?”
“Gale has been enjoying his school life without a care in the world. I think he forgot he is your bodyguard.”
“I didn’t tell him to contact me anyway, and I prefer to use him as a bait and a trump card.”
Selphie paused for a moment before speaking.
“Why did you declare Gale as your bodyguard to the lynchpins? Shouldn’t you choose somebody more reliable than Gale who overexerted himself over such a small tournament? He could die if the Twin Stars Syndicate attacks him and it will all be naught, so we should consider other bodyguards to protect you!”
Lucy chuckled as she took a piece of chocolate and bit a piece of it.
“Gale will not die. I have an intuition that he can survive the Twin Stars Syndicate’s attacks and protect my life. You already knew that when I declared Gale as my bodyguard and kissed him, my enemies would focus on him more than me.
Besides, Gale is guarding Clere, who is both in the interest of the Twin Stars Syndicate and us. If possible, I would like to use him as a bait to measure the Twin Stars Syndicate’s strength.”
“…Just your intuition?”
“Has my intuition ever failed you, Selphie?”
Selphie could not answer and bowed slightly to the deference of Lucy.
“All we can do now is to wait for the Twin Stars Syndicate to make the first move.
I’m looking forward to seeing how my bodyguard would fare.”

[0] SPAW – Special Powers And Weapons 
[1] MAPR – Magic And Psychic Research
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