Chapter 42 – Bad Timing Confessions
by lemuel moo
After unloading and packing all the logistics, the first-year students were gathered for a briefing.
Victor Spectre took the stage with a loud hailer to address the students. He was the camp commandant for the training camp.
“Welcome to the mountains of Gilbor, first-year students of Aelfsige Academy.
As you already know, fifteen years ago, the World Alliance introduced a combat curriculum for all students from elementary school onward.
Not every school had the resources and the workforce to embark on such an ambitious plan quickly. That made a lot of inconsistencies regarding the quality of combat education and training you had received before you enrolled in Aelfsige Academy.
Thus, in addition to providing you with top-notch combat instructors to start honing your combat skills, Aelfsige Academy holds a training camp annually to reemphasize basics and to train you towards our fighting competition and for your self-defense.
If you do well in our school’s fighting competition, you may receive scholarships from corporations or governments. And you already know, SPAW is actively scouting in school tournaments too.
The top two finalists of our school tournament will represent our school for the inter-school competition. Almost everyone who participates in the inter-school competition receives a scholarship.
In this training camp, work hard for yourself and aim towards the top prize. Your hard work will never betray you.“
The students applauded, and as Victor stepped down, Kasumi took the stage.
“It’s already about lunchtime! But before we go, we want to introduce the instructors for our camp!
First of all, we have Ms. Ayumi Sato from Class 1A!”
Ayumi Sato was a lady in her mid-thirties who covered her face with her long black hair. She was introverted and carried a ninjato with her.
Among the first-year combat instructors, Ayumi was widely touted as the strongest. She stood forward and gave a slight wave with her hands to the students.
Kasumi continued. “Next up, a man who needs no introduction, Mr. Victor Spectre! He takes care of Class 1B, and he’s also the camp commandant. Look for him if you have any issues.
For Class 1C, we have Mr. Blacky Chan! You usually see him in our school gym lifting weights, and he takes care of the weightlifting club!”
Blacky Chan was dark skinned with well-defined legs. His muscles bulged at every corner of his body, but he was nimble despite the bulky muscles and hopped to the stage when Kasumi called his name.
“I’m Ms. Kasumi Mizushima, and I take care of Class 1D.
For Class 1E, we have Ms. Lizzie Velmont!”
An old lady with grey hair tied into a bun walked up the stage with a walking cane. Despite her frail-looking body, Lizzie’s class feared her because she was ruthless in training.
“Last but not least, we have Mr. Allan Mckenzie who takes care of Class 1F!”
Allan Mckenzie took care of gym matters in Aelfsige Academy. He was stout and had a stern-looking face. Students regarded Allan and Blacky as “the Gym Bros”.
Allan was a generalist in combat. He passed paper and physical exams from Aelfsige Academy to be a combat instructor.
“Your combat instructors will handle your customized training in your individual classes for the second phase of our camp. However, for our first phase, we have our guest instructors for our combined training.
First of all, let’s have Mr. Valerian Tze on the stage!”
As Valerian walked up onto the stage, the girls screamed in ecstasy, and they were also dizzy with excitement. Valerian was extremely embarrassed, and he waved back at the students.
“Next, we have Ms. Gwen. She will be teaching us teamwork and strategy.”
Gwen the Scrooge walked onto the stage with her large notepad on her hand. She wore black gym clothes and gave a mischievous smile at the students.
“Ms. Porneia will be taking care of our group workouts.”
Porneia the Bewitcher wore shorts and a T-shirt which exposed her abs. Her chests were bulging, and she made sure she flaunted her curves as she walked onto the platform. She gave a wink to the students, and the guys were cheering with glee.
“Ms. Asti will teach us about weapons and Ms. Beatrix takes charge of food and nutrition for our camp.”
Asti the Drunkard and Beatrix the Glutton went on the stage together. Asti had a long staff and a wine bottle, while Beatrix was munching on a chicken drumstick.
Beatrix was slender and shapely despite her vociferous appetite.
“Finally, our academic teachers will work behind the scenes to make sure we have a fun and safe environment for our camp. Let’s thank them for their work because, without them, our camp would’ve been impossible.”
The students cheered as Kasumi wrapped up the introductions, and Beatrix took over to discuss lunch.
“Alright, boys and girls! Before our camp, all of you were given recipes to experiment at home for outdoor cooking. Now is the time to put your skills to good use.
We have tons of raw ingredients at the side. Cook and eat with your class, and after a short rest, we’ll begin our afternoon training.”
Beatrix dismissed the students promptly, and the students went to the outdoor kitchen to prepare their lunch.
The students cooked curry for lunch, and each pair of buddies worked together for their meal. Gale was used to outdoor cooking because of his missions with Agatha, and Reynard loved cooking. Because of their wealth of experience, their curry looked incredibly delicious, and the class crowded around them.
Serena, one of the students from Class 1D, remarked. “I can’t believe these guys cook better than girls.”
Gale rolled his eyes and looked at Serena with the corner of his eyes. “That’s sexist.”
Serena let out a tongue and said, “let me try some of your curries!”
The rest of the class echoed the same sentiments and Reynard handed out spoonfuls of their curry for them to try.
As the curry melted in their mouths, they heaped praise upon praise on Reynard and Gale. Kasumi realized that a crowd was gathering around Gale, and she became intrigued as well.
“I have a bowl for you, Ms. Kasumi,” Gale said.
Serena protested. “Hey, not fair! Why does Ms. Kasumi get a whole bowl?!”
Gale raised his eyebrows and replied. “It’s called ‘respect’. Come back for a bowl when you’re our combat instructor.”
Kasumi smiled gleefully as she tasted Gale’s cooking. The curry and rice melted in her mouth, and she couldn’t help but express her delight.
“I never knew you could cook, Gale!”
Gale tried to hide his blushing face by turning away. “Reynard did most of the work.”
Clere and Jacinta looked at Gale from a distance, and they knew Kasumi had a massive lead in Gale’s heart. At that moment, Hideki came to Clere and Jacinta with a bowl of curry.
“Try mine and see if you girls like it!”
Clere and Jacinta each took a mouthful, and it was surprisingly delicious as well. Hideki helped in the kitchen at home, so he was adept in cooking.
“How was it?” Hideki asked.
“Awesome!” Jacinta said. Clere nodded emphatically in agreement.
Satori came with a bowl of curry as well and saw Hideki, Clere, and Jacinta standing together. “Hideki! I’ve come to share some curry with you!”
Hideki was red with embarrassment as Satori leaned her body on Hideki to feed him. “Say ‘Ahh!’”
“Uh-thanks Satori! I can feed myself — “
“C’mon, Hideki! My spoon is in front of your mouth!”
Hideki gingerly put the curry rice into his mouth, and Satori grinned as she saw him enjoying the food. “How’s my cooking?”
“Good! You must have been practicing at home.”
“Of course,” Satori replied as she licked the spoon from Hideki’s mouth and cast a glance at Clere and Jacinta. “I wouldn’t lose to anyone in the cooking department.”
Clere and Jacinta didn’t want to be near Satori, and they removed themselves from Hideki and Satori to bring their food to the dining table. Hideki’s eyes trailed towards Clere, and he wanted to join them, but Satori stopped him. “Why don’t you eat with me today?”
“We shouldn’t, Satori. We’re supposed to eat with our class!“
“C’mon, Hideki! I’ve cooked — “
Hideki interrupted Satori. “Sang and I are buddies in this camp. I can’t leave him and have him eat alone. You should eat with your buddy too.”
Without another word, Hideki walked away from Satori to find Sang and sat with Clere and Jacinta. Satori sulked at Hideki’s response and realized that Hideki kept gravitating towards Clere and Jacinta.
A sharp knife pierced Satori’s heart, but she knew it wasn’t the time to do anything about it. Satori walked back to her class to find her partner.
Class 1D was eating together on a long log table with benches at each side. Gale, Reynard, Jacinta, Clere, Hideki, and Sang were sitting together.
“Hey Hideki, do you want to be part of my team for the annual competition?” Gale asked.
Hideki paused for a moment to think about how he should reply.
“I’m forming my own team too, Gale.”
“Is that so? That’s fine,” Gale nonchalantly replied. “Sang, do you want to join my team?”
“I’ll follow Hideki instead.”
Serena heard that Gale and Hideki had their own teams, and she asked, “who do you have in your team, Gale?”
“It’s Clere, Jacinta and Reynard at the moment. I need two more. Do you want to join me, Serena?”
Hideki froze, and the color drained from his face. He wanted Jacinta and Clere to be part of his team, but Gale beat him to it. Clere noticed Hideki’s expression and kept silent.
“I’ll only join Hideki’s team if he asks, but thank you very much!” Serena replied.
“Alright. I’ll look around after lunch I suppose,” Gale remarked.
“Why do you need two more when you already have three?” Serena asked. “It’s teams of five, and a sixth man can be registered as a backup.”
“I’m not fighting, but I’m helping Ms. Kasumi by assembling a team to train together. Hopefully, we can break into the top two spots this year,” Gale answered.
Hideki became even more upset and struggled to contain his emotions. He thought to himself, “Is Gale this far ahead of me that he doesn’t even need to fight to break into the top two spots?!”
Gale noticed that Hideki became silent and didn’t speak anymore, but he didn’t know what was Hideki thinking about. Clere sensed that Hideki saw Gale as a rival and she made a mental note about it.
There was a break after lunch, and Hideki pulled Clere aside to speak to her in private.
“What’s up, Hideki?”
“Didn’t you say you can’t train with anyone unless you have explicit approval from your Mom?!” Hideki asked angrily. “If so, why did you join Gale’s team?!”
“My Mom said it’s fine to join Gale’s team,” Clere replied. “She doesn’t have any issue about it.”
Hideki became silent as he looked into Clere’s eyes, and Clere asked, “what’s wrong, Hideki? Why are you looking so upset?”
“Did you train with Gale before?”
Clere paused and wondered what she should say. She didn’t want to reveal that Gale had been training her, but she realized that it was impossible to hide any further.
“My Mom hired Gale to train me. That’s why he is also my bodyguard.”
That answer shook Hideki to his core. Frustration filled his heart, and he struggled to find words to articulate his feelings momentarily.
Clere noticed that Hideki was looking more and more upset. “Hideki, I don’t understand. It’s just training — “
“Yes, you don’t understand! It’s only training, but why does Gale have the green light and I don’t!” Hideki yelled. “I have known your family for years! We shared precious moments together, but your Mom never asked me to be involved with your training and protection!”
Clere finally realized that Hideki was jealous of Gale over her.
“H-Hideki? I thought you have Satori — “
Hideki grabbed Clere’s shoulders and spoke with intensity.
“I only have eyes on you!”
Clere was feeling very uncomfortable and squirmed to push Hideki’s arms away.
“H-Hideki! L-Let go of me! You are scaring me!”
Hideki snapped back to his senses, and Clere moved a distance away from him.
“Hideki, this is the first time you are confessing to me! I wasn’t aware of your feelings toward me at all! You have never shown any interest before!”
Hideki became silent. He didn’t make any moves towards Clere because he thought they shared a special bond as childhood friends.
“…I have grown to like you a lot! You were insightful, caring, and in my eyes, you’re most beautiful among all!”
Suddenly, Satori stepped out of the shadows with tears streaming down her cheeks. As she stared at Hideki in disbelief, guilt-filled Hideki’s heart and he took a step towards her. But Satori turned and ran away in tears.
Clere quickly called out to Hideki.
“Hideki! Satori just saw us! Quickly, go find her — “
“No, if I don’t do it right this time, I will regret it for life. I will apologize to Satori later, but I have always loved you!” Hideki interrupted.
“Then why now?! Why didn’t you say anything?! Why did you let girls flock all over you?! You never gave any indication, and suddenly you are upset because of Gale?!” Clere yelled.
“Isn’t Gale the same?! He has so many girls throwing themselves at him!” Hideki retorted.
“GALE IS NOT IN LOVE WITH ME!”
Clere cried as she yelled out the frustration in her heart. “He tries to stay away because he thinks we both like each other. He’s in love with your sister, but she’s our combat instructor, so he’s trying to stay quiet for her sake!
If he is in love with me, he won’t stay quiet! That’s the sort of man he is!”
Hideki was lost for words. He didn’t have anything to say, and he gritted his teeth.
“I regret why I didn’t confess to Gale sooner. Kasumi warned me that she would be coming after Gale’s heart if I didn’t make a move.
He almost died recently, and I’ve been struggling in my heart to tell him how I really feel. I love him, but Kasumi is also my childhood friend as well,” Clere cried.
Clere had no wish to continue the conversation, and so she walked away.
“I’m sorry, Hideki. I cannot accept you.”
Those were the only words that Clere left for Hideki, and he knelt by himself in tears.
Satori hurried back to her class, but Dylan saw her tears and stood in front of her.
Satori looked up and saw Dylan. “Out of my way, scum.”
“Where’s your prince charming, Satori?” Dylan asked.
“None of your business.”
“Your prince charming broke your heart, eh?” Dylan provoked. “Why don’t you switch to me instead?”
Satori pushed Dylan away, but he grabbed her shoulders. Satori wanted to kick him away, but she saw Hideki coming after her from a distance, and she instantly changed her mind.
“Be gentler with me,” Satori requested.
Dylan also saw Hideki from a distance, and he gave a sly grin. “Sure.”
Hideki saw that Dylan placed his arm around Satori’s shoulders and he yelled, “get your hands off her!”
But Dylan replied, “She wants me to hug her, and so I did. Right, Satori?”
Satori turned her head away and uttered not a word. Hideki said, “I’m so sorry about earlier, Satori! I — “
“Hold on, wise guy. Why are you talking to my date?” Dylan said.
Hideki glared at Dylan. “She’s not your date.”
“Can’t you tell Satori’s not into you now?” Dylan mocked. He slid his hand down her back, and onto her butt, and squeezed. Satori jerked a little from Dylan’s advances, but she offered no resistance.
Hideki was incensed. “Why you — “
“Get lost, Hideki! Dylan can do whatever he wants, and it is none of your business!” Satori scowled. Hideki was at a loss of words, and he didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly, a fiery fist crashed onto Dylan’s face, and the latter crashed onto the ground several feet away. Satori and Hideki looked up and saw Gale with his flaming arm.
“What the hell are you doing, Gale Gainsborough? This is none of your business!” Satori yelled.
“And whether I sock Dylan on his face is none of your business too,” Gale retorted. “Don’t get ahead of yourself. I’m not doing it for you.”
Turning to Dylan, Gale said, “that’s payback for what you did at City Plaza.” Dylan bled from his mouth and scowled at Gale, but he didn’t dare to retaliate against Gale.
Blacky Chan and Kasumi came running towards the commotion, and they saw Dylan injured on the floor. “What happened here?”
Gale raised his hands and surrendered. “My bad. I socked Dylan on his face. It’s my fault.”
Dylan got up and dusted himself. He wasn’t interested in Gale getting into trouble with the combat instructors because it would’ve been trivial. “It’s not a big deal. Men play rough. But boy, I had fun today!”
Dylan turned and walked back to his class.
Kasumi motioned Blacky to look after Dylan, and Satori returned to her class. Hideki and Gale stood before Kasumi, and she asked. “Tell me what happened.”
“Nothing happened, Ms. Kasumi,” Gale replied. “I punched Dylan, and he fell onto the floor.”
Kasumi raised her eyebrows at Gale’s oversimplified explanation. But she also noticed Hideki’s crestfallen expression.
“Fine then. I will punish Gale — “
Before Kasumi could finish her sentence, Hideki interjected. “Why did you come, Gale?”
Gale sighed and said, “my client told me to look after Satori.”
Upon hearing that Clere was behind Gale’s actions, Hideki turned and walked away. Kasumi and Gale were alone, and Kasumi asked, “Was Clere in this as well?”
“Beats me,” Gale shrugged. “Hideki and Clere had a private conversation earlier, and then Clere came to me with tears in her eyes to look after Satori. I have no idea what was happening either.”
Kasumi pondered for a while and heaved a sigh. “I will talk with Clere later. But can you not wear the black hat and shoulder unnecessary blame on yourself? It breaks my heart when you do this.”
Gale was sorry. “I apologize, Kasumi.”
Kasumi looked around to see if anyone was watching, and she stole a kiss on Gale’s lips.
“Thank you for taking care of my brother!”
Kasumi quickly walked away and left Gale savoring the sweetness that was left on his lips.