The next morning was their first full-fledged workout. Instead of the usual thirty minutes, it took more than three hours. They did a lot of exercises on uneven bars. Then there was a crawl under barbed wire, rope climbing, jumping and a lot more. When it was time for a break, most of the squad just fell on the ground, completely exhausted.
"I told you before," Captain Pain shouted, "that was just the beginning. Now your real workouts have begun! So pull yourself together, wussies!" For some reason, he was thoroughly enjoying his job.
"Get your asses up to the shower! You have two hours until the counseling session! Get up and move!"
Weakly groaning, the squad stood up and went to the shower.
"I forgot to ask, what are your stats?" Orisa asked, washing Onuki's back. As usual, they were together in the shower, helping each other.
"Six in Magic, five in Agility and Dexterity, four in Luck."
"Oh? Looks quite nice, I think." Orisa was a little jealous. Maybe not a little.
"I don't want to fight, anyway. Don't think I can pull it off." Onuki's voice was trembling.
"Hopefully, they'll send you to a crafting station or something, then."
Orisa covered herself in a long towel and got out of the stall. She saw Iten heading to the lockers and quickly moved to catch up with him.
"Iten! Iten, wait!"
"Oh, Orisa? How are you? Is everything okay?" His voice was calm and smooth as usual.
"Yes! Um... I'm really sorry about yesterday's evening! I dragged you into that mess! It's all my fault! I'm so sorry, and thank you for saving me!" She bowed down deeply. As she was about to straighten herself, the towel became untied by sudden movements and dropped on the floor.
"Is this a part of your speech?" He asked with the same calm expression.
"What?! No! No-no-no! Oh, god, why..." Orisa was crimson. She convulsively grabbed the towel and covered herself again. 'Is he a level one hundred harem protagonist or something?'
Looking up from the floor, she saw Iten smiling slightly. 'He was joking! For the first time! Today, the world achieved something significant!'
"Good," he continued, "I don't want any more girls chasing after me, that's not why we are here. Anyway, I'm glad I was able to help. And I hope our agreement on the library is still in place?"
"Yes-yes, it sure is!"
"Great. Okay, see you at the counseling session."
After lunch, the squad arrived into an already familiar gym where they did their first Mana training. Both Captain Pain and Youko Satou greeted them.
"As you've been told, today we'll be doing a counseling session. The topic is your characteristics and possible future." Youko started the session.
"But that's not the only reason you are gathered here, pups. You'll continue your Mana training in the meantime. And no bullshit." The Captain looked at Orisa angrily.
"Yes. We will start the training, and then you'll be called one by one into the office for your guidance. The first to go will be people who don't need my help with their path." Youko continued.
"And when you are done," Captain Pain raised his voice, "you'll come back here and quietly, and I repeat, quietly continue your training. Is this clear?"
"Crystal clear, Captain Pain!"
“Good. Miss Satou, send me the first one whenever you are ready.” The Captain left the gym.
Youko took out a box filled with crystals and started handing them out, two crystals for every cadet.
"Mana control is not only about guiding your Mana to your hands." She began the lecture. "Mana control is about many different things. Shape your Mana."
She formed a shield-like object around her right hand.
"Change its element." On the palm of her outstretched hand appeared a globe of Mana. Next moment it burned, creating a small fireball. She clutched her fist, and the fireball changed into an electrical knife.
While keeping the knife in her right hand, she stretched out the left hand. After a moment, another lightning knife appeared. She showed it to the class and then changed its element to fire.
"Guide it into different places. Change it simultaneously and into different forms." She finished with a satisfied look on her face. The squad sat in awe.
"Miss Satou, a question." Iten raised his hand and continued after the nod from Youko. "How can a close-range fighter benefit from this technique?"
"Good question." She grabbed a shield and a sword from the stand. The sword immediately inflamed. "Fire attacks are effective against most Wavespawn." She then lowered the sword and moved the shield to the front. "Though, they are not as good for defense. But that thing is effective." Her shield started to sparkle, releasing occasional lightning arcs in every direction. "You can shock or even stun a weak Wavespawn with a lightning shield when guarding. There are other methods, of course, but I'm not a close-range fighter."
"By the way, Miss Satou, what is your specialty?" Orisa asked, curious.
"Counter-magic, weakening magic." She said calmly. "But on a low level, I can do almost anything." Seeing as there were no more questions, she continued. "Your lesson today is to guide Mana into different crystals."
"The first step is," She continued after a small pause, "to light both crystals at the same time. Next, you will need to light only right and only left crystal. And the last step - constantly switch between them, lighting the right, the left and then both of them."
'I will conquer this power of mine! This time I will control it and properly guide it.'
The first thing Orisa did with her crystals was a recall of her lightning sensation. It rose up in her stomach and moved into her hands. Both crystals sparkled and immediately exploded.
Youko raised one eyebrow and gave her two other crystals.
'Or maybe not...'
Orisa calmed down and tried to recreate the sensation she felt during Mana transfer. A fresh, cold sensation that radiated pleasantly all over her body. She was extremely focused. People began to leave the room to get the consultation, but Orisa saw nothing, noticed nothing.
Slowly, bit by bit she recalled that feeling. She felt it running through her stomach, through her legs and hands, across the lungs. And in the heart. It was everywhere.
'How was I able to never notice it before? It’s right here, it’s everywhere!' She mused.
When Orisa opened her eyes, she saw Toatre happily blinking some strange rhythm with her crystals. Iten carefully lighted one crystal and, after a few seconds of concentration, the second one. Few other people managed to ignite at least one.
Some more time passed, and Youko left the room. Orisa managed to light both crystals, but it was too hard to choose one of them. 'Huh, I can do both now, why is it so hard to do just one?' She felt a constant flow of Mana like it was a river. 'To block the flow in one hand? How can I do it?' Block the flow... Deny it... Turn it off... Yes, turn it off!'
Orisa made both crystals glow, then imagined a switch in her left wrist, felt Mana pass through it. Saw how the switch connected her forearm to her palm. And then she flipped the switch off. Left crystal stopped glowing. She also felt that her hand lost this cold and pleasant sensation.
'Holy crap, I made it!'
“Okay, class, we are done for today.” Said Youko from the doorframe. “You can leave now. Remember, the squad leader testing and interview will be held tomorrow.”
Orisa lost her sense of time; it was already past 8 PM. The squad members began to leave.
"Orisa, come with me." Youko went away, and Orisa quickly followed her.
They entered a small room with a table and four seats. One of them was occupied by the Captain. The atmosphere was heavy.
'I'm totally screwed, right?' She thought to herself.
"So, regarding your stats." Captain Pain began. "As you may have guessed, you have two prominent characteristics. Them being Spirit and Dexterity." Orisa quietly nodded. "We haven't talked about their meaning yet to prevent cadets from jumping to wrong conclusions."
"Dexterity is useful for fighters. It boosts precision and concentration. It also helps you manage your Mana better." Seeing Orisa's confused look, Youko explained further. "People with low Dexterity can only do basic things with their Mana. They can't make complex flows, and their Mana usage is slow and clunky at best."
"The main aspect of Spirit characteristic is the amount of Mana you have, and its recovery speed. Another thing high Spirit allows is Mana manipulation and Mana transformation. Like my electric knife, for example."
"So, to put it simply, you'll have a lot of Mana, and you'll probably be able to control it well." Interjected the Captain. "But you have no Magic and Agility, so your spells will be weak and slow. You have no Strength to be a fighter or archer."
"And for support magic, you'll need much more Luck. So that mostly leaves us with crafting and engineering professions." Finished Youko.
"I understand." Orisa said in a calm, even voice. Her world was slowly crumbling apart. 'What is the point of me being reborn here if my build is trash?'
"So... We recommend you to focus on reading about Mana engineering in your free time. We'll introduce you to local masters, too." Youko finished reluctantly, a painful look on her face.
"I won't be able to fight at all? What is the point of all this training, then?" Orisa asked.
"There is a point. And you'll be able to do something, we'll think of a way for you to pass all the tests. They are mandatory, anyway." Captain Pain said with a guilty expression.
"I understand. Thank you for your help, I will be in your care." Orisa replied blandly, stood up, bowed and left the room.
"Poor girl, she already had a lot happen to her, and now this." Said Captain Pain suddenly.
Orisa sat on a bench, brooding over her re-life when she heard footsteps.
"Orisa. Want to have a walk?" Rakasha said expectantly.
She gave him a long look, questioning his motives. Then she remembered Toatre and her story.
'Oh my, this will be FUN.' Thanks to her, Orisa already knew what to expect from Rakasha. ‘But, well, thanks for the nice distraction, O Merciful God of this world.’ She then cleared her throat and began:
"Ok, listen," She said sternly, "I'm not going to have sex with you, okay?"
"Why?" This question made Orisa think for a moment.
"Because I don't like men." She chose a safe option in the end.
"Oh. Understood." Rakasha turned and was about to leave when Orisa called him.
"But if you want to talk, I'm okay." She really needed a distraction.
He pondered her invitation and then sat by her side.
"And, Rakasha, I don't think you should wander around, asking girls for service." She said in the same stern voice.
"Why?" This question made Orisa think even more.
"Because it's for people who are close to each other. It's a personal matter in most cases. At first, people talk. They get to know each other better. Then they might start to like each other. And later, much later, they might do the deed." She paused, thinking about the last part. "But in rare cases, yes, some girls would like to have sex and nothing more."
They sat in silence for some time. Then Rakasha finally said with a frustrated voice:
"I don't understand you, humans. You have an enormous desire that can't be quenched, and yet you complicate things this much." He paused, looking at his feet and clenching his fists. "In me world, everything was simple. We had a mating season, where everyone knew what they needed to do. And outside of that, we lived our lives in peace."
Orisa felt the anger radiating from him.
"But here... Me now have this!" He pointed to his crotch. "Every morning it is shouting to me. Every time me see a female it is shouting to me. No matter what me do! Me hate it, this body, this world, everything!"
"I understand how you feel." She said in a pitying voice.
"Really? Females feel the same?" Rakasha was surprised.
'Oh fuck, what am I saying!?' She panicked, looking for a way to smooth things and lead the conversation away.
"Well, I can imagine how hard it is..."
"Me see. Okay, me go to sleep. Good night." Rakasha stood up.
"Wait. I'm not sure this will work out, but try talking to Mira. She might help you."
"Me thank you, friend." He nodded and went away.
‘Well, that didn’t help at all. What should I do now? Time to give up?’
She pondered the question. Her plan was to dive into the library, but did she have enough time? 'Reading every book in search of something? I don't even know what to look for. So how am I supposed to find an answer, if I don't even know the question?'
She sat on the bench, lost and empty. 'I wish Rita was here... Wait, Rita!' Orisa dashed to her dorm to get a pen and papers.
"Dear Rita, how are you? I hope your hand is well and you are all right yourself. I'm sorry for delaying the letter for that long, but I think you know how hectic it is here.
Many things happened, mostly bad, but some of them good, too.
I'll write about them down below. But before that, I need to talk to you about a pressing matter. Today we had a meeting about characteristics.
So, dear Rita, I'm in deep shit..."
Close to midnight, someone knocked on the Captain's door. For a few seconds nothing happened, but then a hoarse 'Come in' followed. When the door closed behind the visitor, Captain Pain raised his eyes from the papers he was reading and asked in an irritated tone:
"What do you need, kid?"