Time seemed to slow down to a crawl as Orisa watched Mira's charred body fall leisurely. Both her clothes and gorgeous black hair were burning, scattering smoldering pieces of tissue and fabric. Her body was one huge mess almost as if someone cut out half of her stomach, and then unprofessionally grilled the rest, letting the meat burn to a black crispy crust.
Onuki' spell rushed to cleanse Orisa's madness, returning her to reality. As the rage that was fueling her drained away, she lost all the strength and limply fell to the knees in front of Mira's smoldering figure.
The girl in front of Orisa blinked once, her bloodshot eyes filled with endless disbelief, and a moment later Mira's body convulsed once and relaxed. A pair of hollow, glassy eyes stared aimlessly upwards.
"No..." Onuki covered her mouth in horror, looking at the lifeless body in front of her.
Orisa's mind went completely blank, but when her conscious tried to fade, a familiar voice proclaimed rudely, 'Do not even dare,' and autopilot kicked in, overtaking her body. It was the same as when Satoru grabbed Mirai to run from the thugs without even thinking of what he was actually doing.
"Start healing her. Now," an even, cold voice gave Onuki an order,
"What..? Why..? I don't u-."
"Don't think. Just do."
Orisa's gaze was sat on Mira's body that now was glowing green, and she ignored everything that went around her.
She missed the moment when both boars blinked blue and disappeared. The fact that the squad slowly and cautiously gathered around them also eluded her. Iten took out a flare gun and, after carefully aiming between the trees, launched a red signal rocket.
The only thing Orisa saw was Mira's charred body glowing green. Toatre joined Onuki's effort, and even Kanai added another healing spell, but it made little difference. Even if the glaring gap that was now Mira's stomach began to close, it was barely noticeable.
The ground around Mira's body bulged, and green vines started to pop out. They quickly covered her belly wound, not leaving a single spot, pressing themselves tightly along the edges of the gap. When they were done moving, weaving and growing through each other, remaining vines cut themselves off from the ground, and entire construction began to glow with green, too.
Orisa moved in trance and placed her left palm to where Mira's heart should have been. She froze in place, recalling a half-forgotten feeling. When the lightning sensation rose inside her and swiftly rushed towards her palm, Orisa cut out most of it, releasing only a small burst.
Mira's body shook violently, almost jumping from the electrical jolt. Five more seconds passed before Orisa performed another attempt of resuscitation.
When she was ready to strike for the fourth time, the trees around them turned to dust all at the same time and left them on a giant clearing with a corridor void of vegetation leading in the direction of their objective. They saw a boar rush amidst the improvised highway with incredible speed.
It blinked blue and disappeared five meters away from them, and a pair that sat atop the beast landed on the ground. The first was, of course, Captain Pain, and he bent over to Mira, pouring down her throat some black liquid from a metal flask.
The second was a small woman in an all-green outfit. Flowers and vines were entwined in her red mane, but they looked natural and fitting, not out of place. She moved closer, taking a wand out of her back pocket:
She too leaned closer to Mira, quickly whispering to Orisa:
"That's it, sweetheart."
"Squad, back away," the Captain warned them, taking a few steps himself and the woman began to chant:
"Greater Mend!" - "Greater Mend!"
An emergency aid set she performed sunk well and the vine symbiote started to throb, emulating a heartbeat. The last spell was aimed at Orisa, healing her broken arm. The woman then checked Mira's pulse and nodded in satisfaction before hugging the body in front of her and performing the last spell:
A purple circle appeared beneath them and made their bodies glow purple, too. After a few seconds, everyone around heard a loud crack, and a purple cheetah rose in place of the pair.
The squad members gasped, backing away more when the beast dashed to the stairs.
"Since you more or less killed the boars, you all passed the third floor's test," the Captain said in his usual tone.
Cadets looked at him with disbelief, failing to grasp how this man could calmly talk about their usual business when one of them died a minute ago.
"Stop this crap already, kids. She'll probably be more or less fine." He retorted angrily, giving them a strict gaze, but after a few seconds, Captain Pain's expression softened a bit, "nothing new here, the simple daily grind. Who do you think we are?"
Some of the squad members relaxed a bit and looked reassured, but Onuki voiced another question with a still shaky voice:
"What would happen..." she looked away, biting her palm with a gamma of mixed feelings on her face, "what would happen to Orisa?"
"Huh? What do you mean?" The Captain looked at her as if she asked how to get to the moon, "nothing, of course. But it would turn into a problem if the chick were to die for real. Aside from that, who cares? Degenerates are fighting each other on a daily basis."
Ten shocked pairs of eyes stared at him with mouths wide open. Even those who saw nothing could guess what happened here, and they all were expecting heavy repercussions, if not a straight-up execution. Captain Pain came closer to Orisa who was still on her knees, looking at the ground absent-mindedly and pinched her painfully on the shoulder.
"Ouch!" She fell on the ground with a loud yelp and looked back at the Captain with a hurt expression, "what the hell?!"
"Stand up already, drama queen. We are moving down."
The squad was in no condition to conquer another floor, and Captain Pain forced them to practice on fourth floor's enemies instead of the test.
Four hours later they all were dead tired from a constant stream of new foes that their current Summoner conjured. His repertoire was surprisingly diverse and included various beasts, humanoid foes, undead, knights, even flying threats like birds and harpies.
At the end of the day, it felt like the Captain decided to exhaust them deliberately to rob the squad from any thoughts and concerns, leaving only sore and tired bodies.
Orisa was barely able to move her legs, focusing everything she had on the stairs when someone patted her on the back:
"How is it, pal?" Concerned voice of Kanai made her feel a little better, especially when he added more seriously, "be honest, okay?"
"I don't know, really," she let out a long sigh, and her face darkened, "I killed her. With my own hand, I killed that dumb bitch. Do you understand? I killed someone! I-"
With every phrase, a tone of her voice rose in volumes and was bordering a hysterical level before Kanai pinched her on the side, following the Captain's example.
"She is alive, that’s what the Captain said that himself," Iten was walking directly behind Orisa, and added in the usual calm tone, "so you haven't killed anyone, stop thinking that way."
"We don't know that yet. And it doesn't matter at all, why don't you understand? If not for this world's ridiculous healing power, she would have died for sure!"
Her voice began to rise again, but this time Orisa stopped herself from shouting by biting a lower lip. A thin stream of blood paved its way over her dirty skin, slowly dripping on the shirt. Despite all the healing magic, her lips were all bitten up and their skin in tatters, too. She continued a few seconds later after calming another anxiety attack:
"It's all wrong. I almost killed a person, and five minutes later we are training as if nothing happened. It's just so wrong..."
"You feel that way because you did something wrong, but nobody reprimanded you," calmly said Iten, adjusting his non-existent glasses.
Orisa turned abruptly and gave him a sharp look, for his phrase hit a bull’s-eye.
Monotonous footsteps were the only sounds in the staircase for the next few minutes, and the gloomy atmosphere became even thicker.
"What exactly happened there?" Iten broke the silence with the question everyone was wondering.
"I... I don't know," her voice was filled with shame and pain as she continued with a hurt expression. "When I'm in this mode, everything is blurry, and I barely remember anything..."
"Mira shot her twice in the back, probably trying to masquerade it as an accidental miss," Onuki's disgusted voice came from behind their backs, "And all this could have looked believable if it were not for the fact that Mira shot another arrow straight to her head a few seconds later."
"That bitch..." Kanai muttered, gritting his teeth. Even Iten nodded in agreement.
Orisa slowed down her pace to align with Onuki's position and talked to her in a hushed voice:
"Onuki, I wanted to thank you for stopping me and helping afterward, too. I know that it's unfair to force you to-"
"If you know that, then stop forcing me," she said with an absolutely blank expression. "No need for your thanks, now we are even. So stop bothering with me."
"But..." She pursed her lips, trying to hold down the sadness that filled her heart, and muttered in a pained voice, "Onuki, I don't want to be even, I want us to be friends again..."
"Friends?" Onuki's voice was overflowing with scorn and burning regret, and she looked betrayed, "you forgot to ask my opinion on that matter. I never wanted to be your FRIEND."
She picked up the pace, elbowing other members, and almost ran towards the exit.
The squad marched to the shower, but Orisa turned in another direction and went to the Infirmary. Iten and Kanai both volunteered to go with her, but Orisa wanted to do it alone.
Inside the Infirmary she saw the farthest corner of the room being draped with white curtains, and two healers talking to each other in front of it, looking at some papers.
"Can we help you?" One of them, a middle-aged woman with short white hair asked Orisa, looking up from the tablet.
"I'm a squad member of Mira Rahna..." She stopped, not knowing what else to say.
"Wait outside," the same woman replied in a tired voice.
Orisa obediently left the place, settling on a bench closest to the door. Time went by, and her mind slowly drifted through today's events.
'I'm dangerous. It must end.'
Deep down, if one dug long enough, submerging into the darkest corners of her consciousness, Orisa's soul was quite black. She knew that well. She knew that all her regrets and worries about the situation were superficial. Yes, she regretted the outcome and how worried everyone was, but deep down her dark self was gloating, thoroughly celebrating that one strike. The look on Mira's face, her eyes filled with disbelief all made Orisa's dwelling darkness purr from pleasure and excitement.
Despite all that, she still thought about her Enrage being unacceptable for many reasons. She could not strategize, was almost defenseless, and everything was built around a feeble mechanism that survived only by some godly grace. 'And, of course, I could hurt someone dear to me. So it must end.'
For now, she could be of use to the squad with her barriers and crowd controls. There was a huge space for further development in both fields, so she was also looking forward to that, too.
After half an hour, the door finally opened, and both healers came out, although, only one stopped by Orisa's spot.
"No visits until morning, sorry," she said with even more tired, almost exhausted voice and sat on the same bench.
"I only wanted to know how she was, so that's okay."
"Well, she'll live, of course. There probably won't be any lasting effects, too," the woman let out a long tired sigh. "All this paperwork is giving me a headache."
"Why is there so much paperwork? The Captain said that it was a common occurrence."
"Did he, now?" The woman sounded irritated, "I would like to give him a piece of my mind on this matter, then."
They sat for some time quietly, tired from the day each in their own way. Orisa was thinking about the shower when the healer finally said:
"Immense paperwork, to be honest. Sometimes, I feel like I'm spending more time writing than actually healing people," she shook her head dejectedly, contemplating her life choices, and resumed her confession. "First, we ran some tests and had to fill papers for reagents. Then we found it out and had to run even more tests. For these, we needed much more expensive tests, thus even more paperwork."
The more she said, the more confused Orisa became. But it was impossible to speak up as the flood gates were now open.
"After making sure of the fact, we had to fill more papers and send her info to the roster and the archive. From that point on, inform the Commander. On paper, of course. Then contact all the greater noble houses, too."
A giant question mark rose above Orisa's head, but she dreaded to interrupt the woman.
"Honestly, I don't even know when to work with all this bureaucracy. Anyway, it's sad that we were able to save only one of them, but maybe it's for the best. They would have made her do it anyway." She stood up and turned to leave, "considering she was barely two weeks in, of course, she was shocked. The poor girl didn't even know she was pregnant."