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Tom woke up and saw that everyone else was asleep. He thought that no one was going to wake up soon; even by his standards he woke up early, only at seven o’clock.


After preparing a cold breakfast for himself, he remembered that the rest of Zero Squad would fall back into a normal schedule since they didn’t have another patrol until later.


After eating, he was unsure how to work the panels so he sat in the dark. He knew that one became a TV but other than that he hadn’t thought about how he would spend his time. Knowing he shouldn’t have, he peeked into the office room and found that Eleanor wasn’t there.


Completely unable to do anything, he settled into a couch and closed his eyes. It was not for another half an hour until his rest was interrupted by a yawn.


Tom had not been seen but he was able to distinguish an adult’s outline from the kitchen’s light. It was the fabled Mr. Lawrence. He was perhaps between Sally’s and Tom’s height.


It was hard to read him because it was as dark as a felt cap. Tom was unsure if he was even visible to him, or if he wanted to be visible. Lawrence was somehow able to fumble through it all to open the refrigerator; the soft light bounced on to Tom’s disgruntled face. From his seat along the wall, he could see that Lawrence wasn’t happy.


He wore a murderous look, like his very happiness was jeopardized by something in front of him. Soon after his expression came into view and it didn’t seem as angry, but wistful. He sat with a thump with a bowl and carton of milk on the kitchen table and cleared his throat.


By this point, Tom was sure that he would be considered rude if he just waited for the cranky adult to find him. He instead, between Lawrence’s noisy bites of cold cereal, to rise up and dash to the hallway.


In the slowest instant of his life insofar, he felt like there were a thousand peeping eyes looking for a peeping Tom. He painfully curled his feet up so it wouldn’t hear like he was running, and it was remindful of his pain tolerance training, perhaps worse.

“Hey, is anyone there?” Tom heard a rich voice.

Tom had successfully made it, but he was still in the process in turning.

Lawrence continued, without leaving his seat, “You must be one of the new members. It’s okay, I don’t bite. You weren’t sitting here in the dark, were you? Hah. I never realized where the light switch was either.”

He left his seat with a small groan and stuck his hand, still carrying a spoon, into a crevice that Tom couldn’t see. Then, the lightless house was filled with a luminescent gleam. The nighttime scene was one of an open field, with a virgin sky. It could’ve been in any place in the world, and nothing stirred.


Lawrence looked downwards, turning to Tom, “After so long, all the scenes become bore and bland,” but instead of being cranky, he sounded like a poem.


Tom looked at the man who was shorter than him. He had tanned skin, and while he wore a ruffled sleeping gown, he still commanded a respectful amount of presence. Even at first impressions, one could tell that Mr. Pierre Lawrence aimed for earnest nobility.


Perhaps it was the cereal that had woke him up. Maybe it was the knowledge he was being heard.


Tom decided it was best to speak, “I’m Tom, a new recruit.”


Lawrence knew it’s best to get along. After all, there had never been any new additions hitherto. Everyone who had ever been considered by the Prince was a candidate. However, Nicholas never had the audacity to accept his own proposals, in fear of ruining a life.


“Yes, I have already read about you, Baronet. I Pierre Lawrence, also a Baronet. Would you like to tell me about yourself,” Even if he sounded like an elementary teacher he was entirely sincere.


Tom remained silent for a great deal of time before speaking in a voice he had never used before, “No, I would like to hear about you.”


He didn’t pick his words wisely at all, nor was it even in his nature to be so nosy, or as one might call it, curious. In fact, normally he would’ve receded from the strange gentleman, and instead his lost sleep prompted the stupid question.
Pierre looked at the yellow moon on the wall,” I’m a cook, and I like to journal my soldiering and cooking. Feeding all of these people is my hobby, and getting enough rest is the in-between.”


He was also a deadly weapons instructor, but since then his talent faded for the talent of the ladle. He knew that he could no longer match any of the other Zero Squad members in combat anymore.


He asked with real enthusiasm. “So, I was out sick all day yesterday. Should I go and rest or get the mind working again?”


Since Tom couldn’t answer, He immediately understood that it was better for him to get cooking. It wasn’t contagious, unlike some of the other illnesses around. While Lawrence thought that the company was nice after a day of limbo, since his nearly nocturnal pattern had been slightly offset, Tom found it unbearable to talk to an adult like that, excused himself, and decided to check if everything he had had been unpacked.


Without Stein he was able to work as noisily as he pleased, though in the rhythmic movement of toiletries and favorite travel commodities he let his mind wander. Thinking over why he left Lawrence to cook in the dark, he decided it was because he just didn’t know how to start. He could’ve a long-awaited conversational partner, or even someone with information on A. Schwarz.


For maybe the first time since the interschool tournament he suddenly felt an amazing burst of inspiration. Not before making sure that each and every disposable travel toothbrush had made it through with him (There was really no need for it, but Tom figured he might elsewise never use them) he hastily zipped all of his bags and made sure his clothes were neat.


He planned to pull a feint, and let Lawrence start the conversation. There was ill intent, and Tom shuddered when he realized the cruelty of the ordeal. Before the sing-song voiced man could think of something to say, he also felt the zapping impulse, “Tom, you don’t happen to have any allergies, do you?”


No matter how perfect the plan, or how ill-prepared the target is, everything is subject to outside interference. This is not at all a difficult concept, and with a little persuasion even a young child will recognize its universality. However, the boundary between what can be planned for or not can sometimes blur, and no one can attribute this to wisdom of the lack thereof.


Take for example the unsure nature of an umbra’s mercurial form. There is never any test to be done to see how much force it can take before it waivers. The eldest umbra in Ragnarok wouldn’t know even of his own. Even if the individual was battle-worn, which was never the case because a sensible adult would never join in the first place, he or she wouldn’t know if the mercurial form would act the same from one blow to the next.


Not even the world’s last true king would know if his family’s struggle would end after his death. Nor can the Emperor know if his men have his route covered during a public event with all certainty.


Like this, even with while he adjusts to his new life, Tom’s attempt was interrupted when he heard a door open. He just stopped. It could’ve been any one of five people, whose sleep patterns were alien, or in Sally’s case, just plain unpredictable.


As one would suspect, it was indeed one of the five, Stein. In the early morning, none of the three guys had their brains fully comprehending the ridiculous nature of their actions.


“H-Hello. I hope to work well with you,” Stein said, not remembering what he was supposed to say.


“Excuse me. I’m Pierre Lawrence,” he stammered, not willing to repeat his introduction, “I haven’t made anything ready to eat, but there’s some milk and cereal. If you want something hot we have some processed pastries and stuff of that sort. Let me show you where everything is.”


And beckoned Tom and Stein to follow. In a surprisingly compact manner, there were dozens of frozen meals, enough to upset a small panel of advocates for a preservative-free diet. The reasoning went, that if anyone ever woke up during odd hours, they would have something to eat no matter what meal he or she desired. Sleep was a rare thing to knights. Also, it helped to make Lawrence’s meals greater appreciated.


Although he didn’t have anything against the other two, he promptly left, explaining that he could spend the time more productively. Clearly, he was planning something, and using his bright and comely language, Stein took it as that their arrival shook things up.

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Zarelliel

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