3.2: Secret Weapon

“And we’ll continue our coverage of cells on Motte,” Professor Tameri announces, dropping her black marker in the pen tray. She whirls on her sophmen class, immaculate sketches of cells over both shoulders, one designated as an animal cell and the other a plant cell. “Study up during your break tomorrow. There will be a swift review followed by a quiz.” The professor smiles inwardly when the sophmen collectively voice their displeasure with groaning.

     “Now, now, that’s enough of that,” she says to quell their whining. “I have some exciting news, too.” They snap to attention instantly. “After lunch, you’re to meet me at the sparring stages with your weapons in tow.” She pushes off the whiteboard and crosses to the exit. “Tardiness won’t be tolerated, so make sure you account for the time to change and travel to and from your destinations.”

     Tameri leaves her students bewildered, sporting a mischievous grin from ear to ear.


     Aven drops his tray on the table, his burrito already half-eaten. He wipes his mouth haphazardly, tossing the napkin aside and it falls into his scraped clean bowl of chili. “So, what do you guys think the lesson’s gonna be?” His peers cease their hasty eating to raise their eyes to him, each one pondering.

     Pan swallows her mouthful first and states, “I’m betting it’s another trip to Vanis Town. Jojen’s Dojo should be repaired by now.”

     “Oh, yeah. That’d be cool,” Rum says.

     Roy takes a big gulp of his water, slamming the glass down harder than intended, then he says, “I’m thinking it’s gotta be what our final exam that day was supposed to be. We never tried to redo it after…yah know.”

     “That’d be awesome, too,” Rum comments.

     “You gonna add anything besides blind agreement?” Aven accuses.

     “It’s not blind. I’d love either of those options,” Rum replies calmly. The next second, however, he places a mask of challenge on his face, aiming the energy at Aven. “I’d love a rematch with you. And don’t worry, I no longer suffer from random electrical discharge.” Rum raises his hand and after clenching his fist, he charges the entire contour with a modicum of azure lightning. His control is so fine that none of the sparks reach too far from his skin. He opens his palms and the electricity dissipates like a popped balloon.

     Aven smirks eagerly, eyeing Rum with newfound respect. “I just might oblige you, after all.”

     “Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like either option will happen,” Shuri tells them.

     “What? Why?” Rum and Aven ask in tandem, both suddenly heated.

     “For one, my grandfather refuses to let us go back there after the attack. Two, Jojen’s Dojo only just recently got fully repaired. Tameri didn’t go into details when I asked, but she said there were complications with the construction companies.”

     “Companies? Plural?” Pan asks.

     “Remember that the power plant was bombed, too. That’s why the power at the dojo went out. They probably had to hire a second company specifically for that,” Aven explains. “And that’s not to mention that- wait, where are you going?” he asks his classmates as they rise with clean plates.

     “Time’s a-wasting. Can’t be late,” Pan says, dashing away after sliding her tray on top of Rum’s.

     Aven sighs as he rises himself, a nagging feeling something about that day wasn’t right. The blackout was in the middle of the day, so why didn’t I see anyone come outside? Especially to come to see the source of the explosion.


     Rum leads his peers in their march toward the sparring stage reserved for the Ohaida class. The other three in attendance are reserved for three of the other four classes: Sulublei, Vanusi, and S’nue. Rum’s game face heightens in intensity the closer to Professor Tameri he gets. The raven-haired instructor stands with an intense countenance, one hand resting on the chalk-colored guard of her spadroon. When Rum stops at the base of the steps- his peers following suit- Tameri beckons them to ascend with a pair of fingers. Rum matches the challenge in her eyes with his own as he obliges her call.

     “All of you, please stand there.” Tameri points to an empty mahogany weapon rack on the opposite end of the sparring stage. Once they’re all gathered by the rack, they whirl and face Tameri, none looking the slightest bit nervous. “If your skills are as sharp as your gazes, I might be in trouble.”

     Rum’s knuckles spark blue static when he clenches his fist, his zeal reaching a boiling point. During their freshman year, it took a couple of weeks before Tameri allowed them to have their weapons for class activities. Now that they’re starting off the jump this year, he’s ready to show his mettle.

     “However, while I admire those looks, shelve that passion for now,” Tameri says.

     Rum’s grin wilts like a sheet of paper in the rain. He turns and witnesses similar expressions of crushed excitement on his classmates.

     Tameri chuckles with gaiety. “My apologies, but I couldn’t help myself. However, do not despair. I still have a great lesson planned for today.”

     “This have anything to do with those vague promises you and the other professors made yesterday?” Aven queries.

     “Vague, yes, but with good reason,” Tameri answers. “Today, I plan to show you all every Ohaida’s secret weapon.”

     “And what’s that?” Aven asks skeptically.

     Tameri smiles mockingly. “Oh? You mean you haven’t noticed it yet?”

     “Noticed what?” Rum asks.

     “Guess it’s not so obvious as I was thinking. Oh, well.” Tameri throws her head back and runs both hands through her raven curls, then leaves them in place behind her head.

     Rum looks down from her hands to her spadroon, thinking something about it has changed, but from the chalk-colored guard to the polished midnight sheath, it appears the same as it always has.

     “How are you doing that?” Aven asks.

     Rum turns when he detects the awe in his voice. “Doing what?”

     Aven smirks proudly. “Do you see her harness anywhere?”

     Rum looks back and blinks while smacking himself mentally for not noticing on his own. “I hate to be a broken record, but how are you doing that?” The other sophmen nod to enforce the inquiry.

     Tameri lifts her right hand above her head. Her spadroon slowly slides out of the midnight sheath, though the sheath itself remains right where it is. The long blade rotates right side up with the blade turned away from Tameri’s palm as it rises until fitting snuggly in her grasp.

     “This here is the true power of Bond of the Blade,” Tameri declares.

     “Wow,” Rum says, utterly stupefied.

     “This skill is the premier benefit of BOTB. Can anyone tell me how BOTB happens?” She points to Rum when his hand raises.

     “For Ohaida, our Sudita is also called Bond of the Blade, and that process happens when an Ohaida touches their fated weapon and their heart beats twice simultaneously. At that moment, the Ohaida and the weapon become one.”

     “Very good,” Tameri says. “And that connection can be used to control your weapon without having to use your hands.” Tameri releases her spadroon and inverses its earlier route until it is again snug inside of her sheathe. “This is an intermediate Ohaida skill, everyone. I am teaching you this with the expectation you will handle it responsibly. Can I trust you?”

     Rum hears the steel beneath the fluff. “Yes, professor,” he says alongside his classmates.

     “Very well. We start training today. Place your weapons on the rack, then join me on this side of the stage.” She continues her explanation once they surround her. “The goal of this exercise is not to successfully call your weapon to you. None of you is so skilled. Instead, your goal is to identify the connection you and your weapon share and if you’re lucky, you may get your weapon to rattle against the hooks.”

     Rum stares dead ahead at his buster sword. He and Tameri discussed his bond with it before, and while she assured him there was a test to determine the connection, he worries he won’t be able to feel it. He spent the majority of his spring break practicing his control over his blue electricity. The confidence he had when he climbed on stage evaporates.

     “So, who would like to go first?”

     Shuri steps forward first without hesitation. He looks at his twin swords hard, then to Tameri. “Any advice?”

     “Right now, you’re still used to fighting with your hands holding them. Holding out your hands is a good place to start.”

     Shuri nods and holds out both hands. He focuses on nothing but the twin swords, but after a solid five minutes, he’s left empty-handed. He curses himself beneath his breath.

     “Keep a cool head, Shuri. The more heated you become, the less likely you are to identify the connection. You’ll have another shot after everyone else.”

     “Let a pro show you how it’s done,” Pan boasts, earning a dismissive snort from Aven. “Shut up.”

     “And what’s this “pro” have in mind?” Tameri says.

     “My bow and I have spent years in this one particular stance. Once I take it, it’ll come running home.”

     “Not a bad theory. Let’s see how it goes.”

     Pan calms her soul with a few deep breaths. She lowers to the ground in a squat, bending one knee at a ninety-degree angle, the other flat against the stage. She fully extends her left arm forward while doing the opposite with her right. She inhales slowly as she stares at her recurve bow. Immediately, though only for a moment, her bow rattles against the rack’s hooks.

     “Whoo!” Pan cheers, jumping in the air with both hands raised. “Ow.” She blinks when a drop of sweat stings her eyes. “What the hell?”

     “Pan, language,” the professor warns.

     “Sorry.” Pan wipes her brow dry. “Didn’t expect to be sweating from that.”

     “Bond of the Blade is a taxing exercise. It gets easier as you become better equipped to handle it. Still, that was an excellent first try.”

     Pan thanks her and takes a seat beside Rum. While Roy and Aven take their turns, she whispers to him, “I can’t wait to stream about this! Should make for a lively chat with my snipers!”


     “I read it’s sometimes good to have a name for your online community. I’m the sniper in pink, but they’re all my little snipers. I know for a fact I’m the highlight of the week for a few of ‘em.”

     “I’ll bet,” Rum replies. He gestures to Aven fidgeting while trying to make his scythe rattle. “I’m just glad he wasn’t the first one to succeed. He’d become insufferable.”

     “So true,” Pan says at a normal volume.

     “Better luck next time, Aven,” Tameri says as the angry teen fumes on the way back to his seat. “Okay, Aurum, you’re up.”

     “You got this, Rummy!”

     Rum stifles a laugh, knowing that her support was also intended to trigger Aven.

     “Whatever, Eagle Eyes,” the disgruntled Aven says.

     And there it is.

     Rum steps up to the plate and gives Tameri a probing stare. The soft gaze in her eyes hardens as she nods. He knows at that moment that she also recalls their talk last year and that she believes he can do it. And now, so does he.

     Use your hand. Think of a pose or stance we share. I hope this works.

     Rum spreads and braces his legs, locking himself down in case his buster sword flies at him faster than expected. He imagines his sword in his grasp as he brings his hands together, leaving a big enough opening for the hilt to slide into. Like with his legs, he braces his arms for impact. He looks to his buster sword with a commanding glare.

     Come to me!

     The entire rack rattles violently, but before Rum can react, everyone’s weapons disengage from the hooks and soar toward him. He tries to move, but his braced muscles are too slow to make a difference.


     Suddenly, Rum feels his legs give out from under him, not due to a surge of numbness, but as if they just left his body. He doesn’t feel the weight of them as he falls on his back. His peers’ weapons soar past him, as well as his. He leans his head back to see his fellow Ohaida snatch their weaponry out the air without harm. However, they’re all a mix of fury and disgust afterward. Pan gives way to the latter first and bends over the edge of the stage to puke. Immediately, Rum fears he’s suffered a grave wound. “Is it bad?”

     A chorus of murmurs is all they offer.

     Rum defeats his nerves by whipping his head down toward his legs without warning. His legs are severed at the knee. He can see his bone and muscle exposed at the top of his severed limbs. He braces for the pin he knows his brain’s getting ready to register, but it doesn’t come. He continues to examine the wounds to see that not one drop of blood escapes either side of the wound, even though he can see it inside the legs.

     “Do not worry, Aurum is fine. It was my doing. I’ll have him back together in a moment,” Tameri states confidently. She kneels beside him as she lays down her spadroon. The cobalt light around it fades, as does the buzzing sound it produces. “Stay still, Aurum.”

     “Okay,” he says, not trusting himself to nod.

     The professor grabs one leg at a time and presses them carefully against his knees. Once the two halves realign, a ring of cobalt light shines at the point of connection., “You should be good to go now.”

     “Should be?” he asks with a start.

     “Stand up, Aurum.”

     Rum gulps as he touches his knees. They feel like they did before the separation. He casts aside the urge to think about side effects and stands. The only difference is that his sweatpants are now shorts, the severed sections dropping around his ankles.

     “As if I would truly cripple one of my students.”

     “Sorry, guess I- ow!” Rum rubs the back of his head after Pan slaps him, none of the disgust on her face anymore. “What was that for?”

     “Watch where you’re failing next time! Your sword almost killed me!” she warns.

     “And next time, try showing off a little less!” Aven shouts.

     “You don’t see us trying to bond with your sword, do you?” Roy argues.

     Professor Tameri holds up her hands in a timeout position. “Calm down, you guys. I’m sure Rum meant no disrespect.”

     “Yeah, I was just as surprised as you guys.”

     How the hell I did that is beyond me.

     The three hold their tongues, but still give Rum nasty looks. The young man avoids eye contact with them and turns to Shuri, curious about his silence, and sees him returning to the stage with his buster sword in hand. “He extends it out carefully. “Here. You missed.”

     “Thanks,” Rum says humbly.

     “Okay. Enough about Rum,” Aven barks. “I want to know what you did to save his life,” he asks Tameri, and the others face her anxiously.

     “Oh, boy.” Tameri scratches the top of her head and sighs, powerless against their combined curiosity. “Have a seat. It takes a while to explain properly.”

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