The Bengal Beat

Story by Gracie Williams

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Story by Gracie Williams

Gracie Williams

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“Ferocious Talent” celebrates the creativity of BHS students by showcasing their creative work. If you have artwork, writing, photography, audio or video that you would like to submit, please email [email protected]

“Aleksandr Sokolov, jailed for several counts of theft and robbery,” the woman in front of Alex read from the paper on her desk, “Tell me, have you always done this?”

Alex shifted in their seat, nearly uncomfortable with the welcoming furnishings in the room, contrasting majorly with the harsh and unfriendly environment of a jail cell. They weren’t used to this friendly environment, though the one thing that gave them a sense of being in a familiar place was the woman’s bodyguard who kept her dirt brown eyes locked on them, a hand cautiously floating near the hilt of her blade. It was only hours ago that this mysterious woman in front of them had bailed them out of jail, without a word on why she had done so or why she had brought them to this elaborate building near the uptown district of their city. Their only clue on who this woman could be was the silver plaque on her desk, which read: “NADINE NEVERLAND”.

“No,” Alex finally answered in a quiet voice. Nadine rubbed her chin then and glanced at her computer screen, only to squint at something on it and sigh. Her emerald green eyes then looked over Alex.

“And most of your records are either set as classified or written in Russian. Even your characteristics are listed as classified for some reason, like gender, hair color, eye color….” she told them, to which Alex snickered slightly.

“I did that,” they admitted, “It was to keep the warden from snooping on my medical and family records. I didn’t want to give him something to tease me about.”

“All except for one record from your school for a suspension over you beating up one of your peers for trying to cheat off of you on a test,” Nadine went on. Alex shrugged once more.

“He deserved it! He’d been bugging me for weeks for test answers so I finally snapped!” they defended themself, “Besides, I was really angry in middle school and had a short fuse.” Nadine only sighed and shook her head.

She then turned away from the computer and folded her hands on the slightly cluttered desk, her painted pink nails reflecting the cybernetic green light of the computer. She took on a serious look as she stared at the teen. “Alex, do you know why I bailed you out and brought you here?”

Alex shrugged, brushing their long, cherry red hair over their shoulder and crossing their arms. “I just thought you felt sorry for me or something,” they assumed, before casting a glare at Nadine, “Or you managed to get past one of my classified characteristics and decided to recruit me for one of your inhumane circuses.”

Nadine snickered then, looking as if Alex had told her a joke. “Oh, Alex, I’m not as cruel as you think I am,” she told them, her voice suddenly lighter. She then lifted her hand to one side, and displayed metal growing on her skin like a shell, until it fully engulfed her hand. She then flexed it like it was new skin, showing it off in the light of the sun that filtered through the royal purple curtains that covered most of the window behind her. “If I was holding a circus, I’d have to admit myself in as one of the acts.”

The teen blinked in awe as they watched her skin revert back to its syrup brown color, not a sign of metal left on the surface of it. Alex found themself at a loss for words for a moment, before sitting forward and staring at her hand with wide, navy blue eyes. “H-How did you do that!?” they asked, marveling at the sight of the metal skin appearing again for a moment before reverting back to soft, slightly wrinkled skin. Nadine only chuckled.

“I’m just like you, dear, though I can’t exactly do the things you do,” she explained, “Everyone here in this building is superhuman, even my best friend here, Yuuko.”

Alex stared in disbelief, glancing at the hard, scarred face of Nadine’s bodyguard, before looking back. “I….I don’t understand,” they stuttered, not believing a single ounce of this. Having come from an environment where superhuman powers like this were ridiculed and treated as horrible curses, Alex couldn’t comprehend the idea of a whole building being filled of superhumans just like them. It almost seemed like something out of an impossible fantasy.

“Listen, the reason why I bailed you out is mainly for your powers, as bad as that sounds, but it’s all for a good cause,” Nadine sat forward, sliding the paper to the side, “You see, I run an organization where us superhumans get to do things pretty similar to community service…in a way. And before you even start groaning and whining about having to do community service, I’ll let you in on a little secret.”

Nadine then nodded to Yuuko, who then walked over and knelt next to Alex, whispering, “In return for your service to the city, Miss Nadine lets you stay in a dorm here and basically supplies you with basic needs for a time. I should tell you that you also get paid in return for your services too, but I can’t tell you how much you will get paid. It all depends on what you do.”

“It’s all to keep our peaceful partnership with the human government thriving, and destroy those awful stereotypes of us superhumans being mutant savages,” Nadine added, before twisting one of her curls around her finger, “I thought you would have known though, seeing as your mother used stay here, and the two girls that managed to capture you for the police are also from here.”

Alex gave an exasperated sigh at the memory of two girls who had captured them and turned them in, though for some reason Yuuko reminded them of one of the girls. They ignored this though, and recalled memories of their mother excitedly talking about her days at ‘work’, her ‘workplace’ apparently being the building they sat in now. The memory gave them a melancholic mood now.

“So, what form of service have you signed me up for?” Alex asked, shaking off the incoming depressive feelings. Nadine rubbed her chin.

“For now, I’ve decided to put you into the service of apprehending criminals, since I’d like for you to at least try collaborating with others on solving issues,” she told them. The teen crossed their arms once again and looked peeved.

“Honestly, if I’ve learned anything about working with others, it’s that everyone tries to take credit for your stuff or makes you do everything,” they replied, sounding annoyed, “I don’t like this already.”

Nadine frowned. “Oh, don’t be so negative. That isn’t the same for everyone. In fact, I think the person I chose as your teammate will give you a wonderful look into how our organization runs and what fun you’ll have being he-“

The woman was interrupted by the door to her office slamming open, with a voice shouting “Nadine, what have you done!?”

A small girl then bolted past Alex and vaulted herself onto Nadine’s desk, knocking the silver plaque and a cup full of assorted pens onto the floor. “How could you team Lilly with someone else!? She was going to train me to be big and muscular just like her!” the girl cried, “Now it’s all over! I won’t get to be big n’ buff! I’ll just be lame and tiny!”

Yuuko sighed. “Seiko, please get off Miss Nadine’s desk.”

Seiko obliged and got down, but continued to pout, stomping her feet like a child throwing a tantrum. Alex almost felt like they were watching some sort of soap opera, though this time the ‘actors’ weren’t fighting over some prosaic man. “But seriously, why!? Me n’ Lilly had a great thing going on! How could you break such a beautiful friendship and team!?” the girl then continued to whine, not once acknowledging the presence of Alex during her display of drama. Nadine then sat forward and patted her shoulder.

“It was all for a good reason though. Seiko, I don’t understand why you’re freaking out over this anyways. You’re still going to see Lilly around the building. It’s not like she’s going away forever,” Nadine reminded her. Seiko only groaned and laid her head on the woman’s desk, making noises similar to sobs.

“It feels like it,” the girl sighed as Yuuko pinched the bridge of her nose, muttering something under her breath about ‘sisters’.

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’ve given you a new teammate….for now,” Nadine told her, to which Seiko’s head came up immediately, the magenta ribbon that secured her bun in place fluttering like a butterfly’s wings.

“Really!? Who is it!?” she asked with excitement in her voice. Nadine smiled and pointed to Alex.

“They’re in that seat right behind you,” she informed her, to which Seiko turned around and faced the teen. Immediately, Alex recognized her from her chocolate brown eyes to the bubblegum pink streak that cut through her brunette hair. The features all matched the looks of one of the girls who had apprehended them a few days earlier. Alex found themself nearly falling out of their chair in surprise, shouting in unison with Seiko “IT’S YOU!”

“Are you serious, Nadine!? I can’t work with this delinquent!” Seiko whined, looking at Alex in disgust for a moment before slamming her head on Nadine’s desk, “Why can’t you just send them back to jail!?”

The woman sighed, folding her hands on the desk again. “Seiko, you know one of my programs here is giving superhuman criminals another chance at life by giving back to their community. Sending them back to jail after bringing them this far is kind of a waste, don’t you think? You haven’t even seen what they can do when given a second chance!” she told her, lifting Seiko’s chin so she’d look at her, “Besides, I think it’s time you tried working with someone new, and I thought that having them work with someone their age would be best for now.”

“Why couldn’t you have just paired them with the DJ girl??” Seiko continued to whine. Nadine only patted her head and looked past her to Alex.

“Though, I should tell you that if you decide this little organization isn’t for you, I will happily let you go on your way and find a second chance elsewhere. You are not obligated to stay here, though I may bill you for bailing you out later in life,” she informed Alex, who only nodded. Already, they had decided that they’d rather take their second chance elsewhere, as they had no desire to work with the girl who apprehended them. Though, they were going to try to work with this girl just to humor Nadine and make her think they actually took time to make their decision.

“I understand,” Alex finally replied, to which Nadine nodded with a smile.

“Don’t whine, sister,” Yuuko patted Seiko’s back, “Just manage with this and find a way to have fun with it. Who knows what will come out of it.”

“Anyways, I already have your first mission together set up. It shouldn’t be too hard, unless Seiko wants to make it hard,” Nadine told Alex, handing a pink sticky note to Seiko, “All you two are going to do is track down a few thieves in the downtown area who are responsible for a string of shop break-ins. Nothing too difficult or dangerous in my book. Besides, if there’s any trouble, Seiko will make sure to keep you and herself safe.”

“I’m not making any promises. If anything, I might use this bozo as a human shield,” Seiko replied, to which Alex scoffed.

Nadine only sighed. “I’m counting on both of you to complete this,” she told them, “Then once you both come back we’ll see if you want to stay here, alright?”

Alex nodded, to which Nadine smiled. “Now go. I’ll be awaiting the report on how you two did.”

The two nodded and began to leave, but before Alex could follow Seiko out the door, Yuuko stopped them. “Look, I know Miss Nadine’s been saying you deserve a second chance and all, but regardless of who you are I’m giving you a warning,” she told them in a stern voice, before pulling her katana from its sheath and pointing its tip at Alex, “If you even dare to hurt my sister at all, or think you can use her for any crime, I won’t hesitate to cut you down. Got it?”

Alex was trembling then, putting their hands up in defense and backing away from the tip of Yuuko’s blade. “Got it. I understand,” they nodded nervously, to which Yuuko withdrew her blade and slipped it back into its sheath.

“Good. Keep that in mind,” she spoke strictly, before allowing them to join Seiko outside the office. Already, Alex was unsettled with the girl’s sister, feeling as though if they even breathed in the wrong direction she’d come and kill them. They could understand being protective of a sibling, but they felt Yuuko had gone just a tad bit too far with it. Now they were too afraid to even leave the building with Seiko.

“So, okay, I suppose we have to work together, so here’s some ground rules,” Seiko finally spoke up as they strolled down the empty hallway, “One, we don’t get violent unless it’s absolutely needed, and we only use our powers to capture, not harm. Two, you will listen to me and only me for the next hour, or however long this mission is. I know more about this than you do, I assure you, and I don’t need you getting yourself killed over whatever reckless plan you thought was okay. Friendly reminder the humans here don’t always like to spare us.”

“Understood,” Alex nodded, being reminded of their circus statement from earlier. Seiko only continued.

“Three…..Try and have fun with this, okay? It’s only as boring as you make it, and if you want to have a good time here, you should probably get a little creative with your missions. Hence why I’m not relying on my powers to get us to our destination today.”

“Oh, then what are we going to do then?” Alex asked, assuming she could teleport in some way. Seiko only turned back to look at them, smirking as she pulled a key fob from the pocket of her pastel pink jacket.

“We’re gonna take my bike,” she informed them, before pushing open the glass doors that lead them to the dim outside area. Alex only looked at the girl in confusion.

“Um, are you even old enough to drive? Or are you even sure you can drive one without getting pulled over for how…uh…young you look?” they asked, to which Seiko turned and glared at them.

“Nadine said we were the same age, so of course I can drive! I have a license to prove it!” she snapped, pulling the white card out of her other pocket and pointing at her image on it, “And if any cop pulls me over and mistakes me for a pre-teen, I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”

“I…don’t think it’s very smart to give an officer your ‘piece of mind’,” Alex replied, slightly nervous about working with this girl. Seiko only replied with a “Hmph!” and walked over to her motorbike, patting its smooth finish like it was a large dog. Alex found the lack of helmets with it alarming.

Seiko then mounted the bike and looked up at the dusk sky, noting something to herself before looking back at her ally. “Well, are you coming?” she asked impatiently. Alex only blinked, then nodded.

“Yeah, but your bike lacks helmets,” they observed, to which Seiko gave an exasperated sigh.

“I don’t need a helmet! I’m not a toddler!” she snapped, “Besides, I like living life on the edge! Now, are you coming or do you prefer to walk!?”

Alex paused, then nodded, deciding they’d comply so they wouldn’t annoy her further. Though, they were slightly nervous as they had never been on a motorbike before, or really any vehicle for that matter. Nonetheless, they mounted the back awkwardly and tried not to think about their chance of imminent death that would come from Seiko’s refusal to wear helmets. Either way, from her statement about living on the edge, Alex already knew that even if they had helmets they’d probably die in a fiery wreck from whatever edgy stunt Seiko would try to pull. They didn’t see a chance of living in any of this.

Even as she started it and sped into evening traffic, Alex found themself tightly gripping the fabric of her jacket, wishing they had used her powers instead. They feared her ability to weave the bike through traffic, with her audacity to disregard traffic lights and decision to race the next car to the next turn causing Alex to bury their head in her back every time they thought they were going to collide. They wished that she would be more careful, though at the same time wondered how she was even alive right now. What kind of luck did this girl have to have to not become a road pancake from her reckless driving decisions!?

“So, what’s your name again? I never heard Nadine mention it,” Seiko finally spoke then, easing into a less-congested road and slowing the motorbike. Alex’s motivation to even make friends with this girl was nearly nonexistent, yet they decided to at least try to have fun with this forced team-up.

“It’s Nonya,” they answered calmly, hiding their anxiety over her driving skill.

“Nonya?” Seiko repeated, sounding confused. Alex smirked then.

“Yeah, that’s right. Nonya Business,” they replied, snickering as Seiko groaned in an annoyed manner.

“Of course it is,” she grumbled, not looking too pleased. Alex only continued to snicker to themself, until Seiko suddenly tried to do a wheelie without warning. Their snickers were then replaced with screaming as they clung to her. Seiko only laughed though, smiling as she brought the wheel back down onto the road. “You’re not the only one who can joke around here, Ariel.”

“That’s not my name,” Alex told her, to which she only snickered.

“Too bad. It is now since you wouldn’t tell me your real name,” she replied, “Besides, you do kinda look like the Little Mermaid.”

Alex crossed their arms and grumbled under their breath now, relieved at least that she didn’t call them anything derogatory. Though as they rode along, Seiko decided to speak up again, though in a nicer tone. “So, you like being mysterious, huh?”

“What do you mean?” Alex asked, blinking in confusion.

“Nadine said you coded all your records in a different language or put them as highly classified so she could access them. Do you have something to hide or what?” Seiko answered, to which Alex became slightly uncomfortable. I suppose I do, they thought to themself, recalling memories stained in crimson and littered with the noise of shots echoing throughout one city street. They cringed, sighing until Seiko placed a hand on their knee.

“It’s alright if you don’t want to tell me, especially if it’s personal,” she said in a quieter voice, seeming to look at something on her arm before turning her eyes back to the road, “I can understand why you’d want to hide who you are, I’m sort of the same way.”

“Oh,” Alex responded, not knowing how else to reply to a revelation like this. They cursed their social awkwardness, feeling that they were making her uncomfortable now with the silence between them. They believed now that their inability to hold a meaningful conversation would lead to their downfall.

“Yeah….it’s not a really good thing on my end, but I have to hide things too just to get along with everyone, you know? It’s the best way to avoid drama and unnecessary arguments in my book,” Seiko went on, steering the bike to turn one corner, “Besides, I’m kinda dorky so, uh, it’s probably better if I just kinda tuck that away and be professional like my sister.”

Alex was silent now, not knowing how to respond to her revelations yet again. They only found themself sitting there with a feeling of monachopsis, finding an inability to bring a reply to their lips as Seiko began to laugh nervously. “Ah, there I go again, spilling my guts to absolute strangers. I’ve really gotta stop doing that,” she groaned, “Please….just forget everything I said. It’s nothing important.”

Alex hesitated once more, before finally finding the courage to reply to her. “What’s so wrong about being dorky? Why do you feel the need to hide it?”

Seiko seemed startled then, looking back at her passenger for a moment with wide eyes before immediately directing her attention back to the road. “E-Er….it’s just better to be professional, as I said. Nobody will take you seriously if you’re all weird and such,” she replied with uncertainty and hints of exulansis in her voice, “You wouldn’t understand how I feel honestly. I can’t really put it into words.”

“No, I do understand. I definitely understand,” Alex replied, recalling old memories of when they couldn’t understand English at all, “I mean, I’m kinda weird too. I talk almost nonstop about science if you get me going, they way I pronounce words in English isn’t considered ‘normal’, and, well, I suppose accidentally making yourself float in your sleep isn’t exactly the most average thing on Earth.”

Seiko giggled then. “You really do that stuff? Like, floating and talking about science?”

Alex nodded, snickering at their own odd behaviors. “Yeah. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up and ended up faceplanting on my own bed. I once had a roommate who thought I was some sort of cryptid because I did that in my sleep.”

Their new partner laughed now, her earlier melancholic tone fading away. “You’re pretty interesting. You seem to be a bit of a charmer,” she commented, to which Alex found themself blushing at the compliment. They rubbed the back of their neck awkwardly now.

“W-Well, I’m sure you’d be more interesting than you already are if you just let yourself be the real you,” they replied, to which Seiko paused.

“Er, I don’t really think it’d be that great. I’d just be really annoying to everyone, honestly,” she started to mumble, “I mean, all I’d do is talk about dumb things and not make sense to anyone. Besides, everyone will think my interests are childish or bizarre, or I act too paranoid about anything and am just a nuisance.”

Alex frowned, gathering up all their courage to raise their voice again and say “Who cares what everyone thinks!”

Seiko stopped the bike abruptly then, causing Alex to run into her back as the car behind them honked aggressively. The girl apologized under her breath then and sped the bike away from the car, wanting to avoid a possible road rage confrontation. “Sorry about that, your statement just….startled me,” Seiko admitted now, “No one usually ever tells me that. They just….stop talking to me.”

“Well, I’m not one for giving up,” Alex replied, before thinking to themself, Except for when I can’t figure out a level in a video game and just abandon it for months on end.  They then went on. “Besides, I don’t see the point in hiding who you are. If anything, I’d like to see the real you instead of whatever mask you wear to appease others. Even if I may leave and go off on my own after this, I want to know you for you instead of whatever artificial personality you’ve set up for others. I find that more interesting than being a copy of your sister.”

Seiko didn’t reply then, and seemed to only focus on the road. For a moment, Alex was afraid that they may have angered her or saddened her, but instead they found that she stopped the bike in front of an apartment complex covered in ivy. Even as she dismounted the bike, the teen was anxious of what she was thinking about the words they had spoken to her. Though, much to their surprise, she then turned around and offered a hand to them. They hesitated now, to which she said “Well, are you coming?”

Alex nodded then and took her hand, allowing her to help them hop off the back of the bike. They both then began to head into the complex, but not before Seiko commented, “Y’know, I kinda laughed in my head over your ‘nonya business’ joke.”

Alex found themself rubbing the back of their neck again, slightly flattered. “Ah, well, it’s a…..bit of a common joke actually. It wasn’t really my own original idea.”

“Who cares? I found it funny,” Seiko replied, smiling behind the chocolate brown locks that hid the side of her face from the teen. Alex found themself smiling in a bashful manner now, before they walked through the doors to the apartment complex and followed their partner up the paint-chipped stairs. Each step responded in a loud creak, causing Alex to wonder if they were bothering the residents of the complex.

“Now, remember, try not to attack anyone unless you have to. We’re just here to apprehend, so just try to block, alright? Don’t kill anyone,” Seiko informed them, to which Alex became nervous.

“Uh, about that……I wasn’t really ever trained in combat or even defensive combat,” they admitted, looking embarrassed, “I can only copy moves I’ve seen in superhero movies and those usually don’t turn out too well for me.”

Seiko turned back and blinked in surprise at them then, before looking like she had just realized something. “Oh, so that’s why you kept doing all those weird moves whenever Lilly and I tried to apprehend you,” she recalled, to which Alex bit their thumb out of humiliation. They now wished the younger them from a few weeks ago was less of a loser.

“Hey, don’t freak out about it. I used to do the same thing,” Seiko shared as they both ascended the rickety stairs, “I’d always see these big, muscular characters on cartoons do them, and blast people with laser beams with it, so I thought I could do it too. It at least gave me a gateway into my sister and mother later teaching me actual martial arts.”

“Oh, cool,” Alex replied, to which Seiko nodded.

“Yeah, maybe they could teach you one day,” she suggested, “Though, I’d suggest you’d try not to replicate moves from cartoons in front of them. You’ll really confuse them.”

Alex laughed then, before they reached a door with its paint stripped in several places. Seiko paused then, before walking up and lightly knocking on the door. The sound of a chair squeaking against a wood floor was now heard, accompanied by a man grumbling and loud footsteps on the other side. “State your business,” a gruff voice said firmly to which Seiko put her hand to her mouth like she was about to clear her throat. She then pinched her nose.

“I’m from local troop 31011! I stopped by to see if you’d like to buy any boxes of cookies! It goes towards great programs for girls like me!” she responded in a squeakier, nasally voice.

Both of them now heard the man excitedly fumbling with the lock, cheering in an ecstatic voice “OH GOODY! IT’S ABOUT TIME!”

In an instant, the door opened to reveal a bony man who seemed to be in his late thirties. For some reason, he was dressed in clothes that were distastefully neon and did not match whatsoever, making him look like a complete eyesore from the overload of colors. His hair was a greasy brown, with gas station-style sunglasses hanging on his hooked nose. He gave a confused look at the presence of the two teens now, seeming to not realize he had been tricked.

“Is this poor emo-looking punk here supposed to be your mum? And aren’t you a little old to be selling scout cookies?” the man asked Seiko in an obviously fake British accent, pointing at Alex. The teen only crossed their arms, glaring at the man as the girl snickered under her breath.

“Yeah, but I got a box of Skinny Peppermints if you’re interested,” she spoke up, to which the man made a squeal of glee.

“Hold on, let me go get me wallet,” he told her excitedly, starting to drop his artificial accent. Seiko only smiled.

“No need,”  she told him before disappearing, leaving an afterimage of her shadow before appearing behind him and forcing him down to the ground, to which she held him with ease. “It’s on the house.”

Seiko then pulled the note from Nadine out of her jacket pocket, proceeding to read it aloud. “Jamison Hawking, guilty of robbing several thrift stores, record shops, and oddly enough comic shops. You’re under arrest for your thievery……and for this atrocious outfit you’re wearing. You make my poor eyes want to barf.”

“Really!? You robbed those places when you could literally just rip those mp3’s and PDF files off the int-” Alex raised an eyebrow, before Seiko instantly interrupted them.

“Ariel! Don’t give him ideas!”

“Sorry,” they apologized to her, before they heard the shouting of Jamison’s accomplices. Suddenly, several men of varying sizes came to the door in outfits just as offensive as Jamison’s psychedelic ensemble. One man was even dressed in what would be a horrible attempt at dressing like a superhero, whereas it seemed he drew his own symbol on his shirt, the symbol being a bowl of soup for some reason.

“Oi, what ‘ave ye done to Jamie?” the man spoke in an equally bad British accent, glaring down at Seiko. The girl simply continued to hold him down now, until she left an afterimage again and made the whole hall go dark. Confused, Alex stayed still as they heard the grunts of the men and the sound of heavy objects hitting the floor. After a few seconds, the light returned, revealing all the men laying on the floor, groaning as Seiko stood above them with a confident smirk. The teen stared in awe now, appalled by her power.

“Woah, how did you do that!?” Alex asked, marveling at her work. Seiko grinned and slicked her bangs back like it was no big deal.

“Just umbrakinesis doing its work,” she informed them, “Controlling the dark isn’t always just making shadow bunnies on a wall y’know.”

“That’s so cool!” Alex exclaimed as Seiko made a flattered face, scratching her head.

“Well, I mean, that’s not really the extent of my powers…but I guess it’s a pretty good display,” she admitted, before mumbling “I suppose I could have done better.”

“Yea, you could’ve, poppet,” one man spoke, before they all got up in unison and held Seiko back. Alex stepped back then, becoming frightened as their partner tried to squirm free. They expected her to teleport away as she had done before, until they noticed one of the men’s hands were preventing her from flicking her hand. They then watched as Seiko tried to flip herself out of her grasp, only to get thrown to the ground hard. Alex started to panic now, not knowing what to do or how to help her. They already knew they were much smaller than the men they were facing, therefore they thought that they were outnumbered, and that both themself and Seiko were goners.

Suddenly, they felt a familiar surge of energy circulating in their arms, causing a fuscia aura to begin to appear around their hands. Recognizing it as their own power, they stuck a hand out towards the group of men and began to lift them in the air, leaving Seiko on the ground. As the men began to panic, Alex used their power to rip off the railing of the staircase and wrap it around the men, tying them all together tightly enough to eliminate the possibility of escape. They then set them aside, panting from the force of gravity on their body during the use of the powers. Seiko then pulled her phone from her pocket without getting up and called the police, reporting their work.

Once it was done, Seiko urged them out and left the men to the police, to which they left the complex. Though, once they were outside, Seiko immediately turned and grabbed Alex by the sleeve, staring at them in an excited manner. “You used the Force!! I can’t believe it’s actually real!” she exclaimed ecstatically, her dark brown eyes sparkling. Alex blinked in confusion.

“Um, what?”

“That thing you did to save me from those guys! Y’know the wooshy woosh thing you did to bunch them all up in the air and tie them up! You used the Force!! I can’t believe Nadine teamed me with a freakin’ Jedi!!” Seiko went on, tugging on their sleeve excitedly while marveling up at them, “All you’re missing is a lightsaber and a dark & troubled past!”

Well, I already got one of those down, Alex thought to themself, laughing nervously. “All I did was just use telekinesis….or gravity manipulation. Whatever you want to call it,” they told her, to which Seiko still stared in awe.

“So that’s why you float in your sleep, huh? I just thought you could fly or something,” she admitted, “but that’s still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen! You should have shown me that in the first place!”

“Er, well, it’s hard for me to call on my powers when my mind isn’t clear of distraction, so honestly I don’t use them as much as I should,” Alex admitted, “The event that happened in there though was just something that rarely happens. Like, my powers came to me without the need of my mind being clear.”

Seiko blinked then. “Oh, maybe it’s a sign.”

Alex snickered. “I guess.”

Seiko then paused once they reached the bike, before turning to look at Alex, asking, “So, before we go back, I’d like to know what you think. Like, are you going to stay with the organization? Or was this too much for you?”

The girl looked as if she feared her last statement, to which Alex thought for a moment. They had a slight longing to return to their life going from each corner of the city to the next, though something inside told them that they were finally where they should be. That they finally found a place where they belong without being viewed as an outcast or the material for the cruel jokes of humans. No longer did they feel like the silhouette they seemed to be to others. For once, Alex even felt comfortable around someone, a feeling that they had not experienced for several years. Not only that, but they had realized that they had also genuinely smiled for the first time in years, another rarity that they were sure had been lost forever. This mission was possibly one of the most amusing times they’ve ever had in their life.

Alex sighed, then smiled. “If I’m going to be honest, I had more fun on this mission than I’ve had in the past five years. Not to mention, you’re possibly one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met,” they admitted, before sincerely saying “I think I’ll stay.”

Seiko grinned with glee then, jumping up and down ecstatically before she suddenly stopped and gained a guilty look. “Er, I should really apologize for my statements earlier then. You know…where I said I’d use you as a superhuman shield and all that? I’m really sorry.”

Alex shrugged now. “I’ve honestly heard worse said about me, but I forgive you,” they replied, “You’ve already made up for that anyways, with this adventure you’ve given me. Now maybe you could teach me how to do those martial arts moves you said you learned from your family.”

The girl nodded with a smile, before outstretching her hand to them. “Well, welcome to the best organization earth, Ar-!” she began to say, before Alex cut in.

“Alex. It’s Alex,” they corrected her, before taking her hand.

“Of course you tell me that now. At least ‘Ariel’ wasn’t far off,” Seiko mumbled with a snicker, before straightening up and shaking their hand. “Well, welcome aboard, Alex! The organization will be pleased to have you. I am looking forward to our partnership and whatever missions come our way.”

“I thought you were looking forward to becoming big and buff,” Alex commented jokingly, to which the girl rolled her eyes. The teen laughed now, enjoying the comfort they now felt around their new friend.

“I’m looking forward to our partnership too, Seiko. I can’t wait to see what the future brings for us.”

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