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BLOOD POUNDED IN HER EARS as Blitz raced after Qwynn. They ran as fast as they could, hoping they’d get there in time. The scream had stopped, which usually meant something good or something very, very, bad.

It’s sort of funny how, in the arena, they usually ran with obstacles. Now, Qwynn and Blitz found themselves in much more practical situation. For the first time, they might need to use their abilities, but they couldn’t because they weren’t yet trained in running in general.

It’s not that they weren’t fast. They were speedsters, all right. But maybe not as fast as one may expect a fully trained, first rank ninja to be. It felt so unnatural to be running without having to duck or scale a wall.

Blitz looked at Qwynn and there seemed to an unspoken agreement that whoever stopped or slowed would be a weakling, a coward in the face of danger. Not that I’m not the weakling already, Blitz thought absentmindedly. She pushed the thought in the far corner of her brain, so she could focus on running and just running.

Suddenly, Qwynn stopped. Had she given up? No. Qwynn never gives up. Blitz gripped her friend’s shoulder firmly, leading her to the side so Blitz could get a better view. To her surprise, Qwynn’s face was completely white. Blitz looked down, and immediately wished she didn’t.

A ninja lay dead on the corridor. Next to her was a seventh-ranker, as evident from the badge she wore proudly on her chest. The seventh-ranker seemed to only have fainted. Blitz urged her friend to check the pulse if the seventh ranker, while Blitz kneeled next to the dead ninja. Qwynn gulped with determination and bent down professionally. Blitz gripped the ninja’s hand, trying in vain to find a beat, but eventually let go. Her body was still warm.

My god. She must’ve died a few minutes ago.

Blitz pried her eyes away from the gruesome sight. She looked at Qwynn, who was gaining the color back in her face.

“She’s only fainted. It’s alright.”

Blitz nodded, acting brave. “Must’ve been from shock.”

Qwynn looked up. “She’s—”

“Dead.”

The two sat in silence, processing all they’d just seen. Finally, Qwynn stood up, patted herself clean, and decided to act professional. “Okay. Okay. Let’s go.”

Blitz looked at Qwynn in shock. “Where?”

“To class. Come on,” Qwynn said impatiently.

“Class? After all this?”

“Well,” Qwynn said, as if everything was obvious, “We have to tell someone about this.”

“But shouldn’t I stay?” Blitz glanced at the two bodies. “Someone has to look after them. It’s in the rulebook.”

“And you’ve never broke the rules?” Qwynn shot back.

“Qwynn, you’re being a little edgy,” Blitz was hesitant. Her friend wasn’t herself.

Qwynn snorted. “Oh, yeah. I just saw a dead body. In a corridor. After I heard a scream. Yeah, just something you see everyday. Nothing to be nervous about.”

“Still, I really should stay behind. You go get help.” Blitz didn’t like any of this. She didn’t want to argue with Qwynn in this situation, but leaving bodies out in the open was something all ninja were trained not to do.

“Look,” Qwynn was getting frustrated, “It’s not going to work if you keep arguing. This attacker, she’s killed our people. For all I know, she’s still somewhere right around the corner. I’m not sure I can fight off this assassin, a prepared assassin, may I add, by myself. And neither can you.”

“Qwynn…”

“Oh, stop whining,” Qwynn snapped. “I’m leaving.”

Qwynn began marching to the end of the corridor. Blitz shot one last look at the two ninjas, before rising up. She trailed behind. Something was wrong, besides, of course, the fact that there was someone dead. Blitz had an urge to go back to the scene, but Qwynn made sure that wouldn’t happen. Besides, it was only a hunch, and most of Blitz’s hunches weren’t right. She continued after Qwynn, a forcing down the growing urge to run back.

Eventually, they arrived at a door made of solid bronze. It was like the many that lined the corridor. Qwynn knocked on the door, three times.

The teacher, a strict, twenty something woman, opened the door with a glare.

Qwynn didn’t wince. “May we come in?”

“You’d better.”

Blitz and Qwynn walked in the room, their classmates all hooked up to the VR system and not noticing the disruption. The teacher hurried straight to Rhea, who was, as expected, glowering at them.

“You see, ma’am, they were late. The last one is probably late also.”

Rhea looked at them, daring them to speak.

“There was a killing,” Blitz blurted.

Rhea stopped dead.

“Bear claw scratches all over the face, then a plunge in the heart,” Qwynn added, sounding surprisingly composed.

“Bear claw. Arth.”

“Yes—” Blitz cut in.

“For the papers. It must be.”

“Well—”

“That’s where they were last time. Planting fear into the Kor heart.”

“Rhea,” Blitz said more firmly, “It was Sliver. And she’s been dead for less than an hour.”

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