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I swiped my watch over the screen next to the training room's doors, and they slipped open without a sound. Inside was a large room with pillars and blocks of concrete sticking out of the floor at irregular intervals. In the middle of the room stood a raised platform with a rectangular device in the middle of it. I walked up to the platform and examined the device.

As soon as I touched its surface, a hologram appeared above it with all kinds of settings and choices. There were all sorts of settings for the enemies that you could set. You could make them faster, slower, more durable, larger, smarter, amongst other things. I decided to use the default settings first. This set the number of enemies to ten and meant that they weren't very intelligent. A single arrow, even from my relatively light-weight bow, should also be able to kill them without problems.

I pressed 'START' and readied my bow. A timer appeared that counted down from ten. When it reached zero, a loud beep reverberated throughout the room, and several small, insect-like creatures popped out from nowhere and started skittering around the room. I looked at the closest enemy that wasn't behind cover and took aim. At first, I was confused. It looked like the creature moved so fast that it created a slight after-image right behind it, but I realized that the afterimage was actually in front of the creature. It wasn't moving backward, was it? Was this my ability at work? So the afterimage showed where it would go?

I shook away my confusion and focused on aiming again. The afterimage didn't help much, but at least it gave me a slight warning when the creature was about to change directions, even if it was only worth barely a tenth of a second.

I released the arrow. At this distance, the hit was almost immediate. The creature was knocked back a short distance and dispersed into the air. I quickly nocked another arrow and aimed at the next target. Whish and another creature dispersed.

I repeated the process several times more, and the moment that the last creature was killed, a beep reverberated throughout the room once again. I looked at the hologram that appeared. It took me 33.46 seconds to eliminate all of the targets and twelve arrows. I'd missed a couple of arrows because the creatures had hidden behind the concrete blocks. I realized that I could use the Watching Eye ability in those situations. By activating the ability for just a second, I could get a good idea for when the creatures were about to leave the cover so that I could shoot them the moment that they did. If I kept training to use the Watching Eye's ability like that, I could probably make pretty efficient use of it in the future. I might even be able to combine that with my arrow manipulation someday.

I pressed the 'START' button and readied my bow again with a smile. This was pretty fun. I remember playing paintball with my friends back in the day. This was just like that, except I was using a bow, and my targets couldn't fight back. But that just made it more fun. There was a reason that I always preferred using a gun to fighting up close, after all.

The countdown reached zero, and I immediately let go of another arrow.

 


 

The time was nearing ten when I finally finished practicing in the training room. After several repeated tries, I managed to eliminate all of the enemies with ten arrows in 17.74 seconds on the default setting. That was likely to be my limit for a while too. If I wanted to accomplish it any faster than that, I would have to nock a new arrow and release it a lot more quickly than I was physically capable of at the moment. Maybe when my Speed attribute increases, I'll be able to do it faster. I bet that Abigail could do it in almost ten seconds.

As I left the shooting range, I saw two familiar figures walking in the distance. It was Kay and Liang. Liang was enthusiastically talking about something as Kay looked forward with an unenthusiastic expression.

Suddenly, Kay stopped and turned her head in my direction. She raised her hand and pointed towards me. Her mouth opened, and she said a single word. Not even my hearing was good enough to be able to hear what she said at this distance, but I could hazard a guess considering Liang's reaction.

Liang's head swiveled towards me, and a grim expression covered her face.

I let out a tired sigh. It was too late to run away now, so I could only stand there and wait as the two approached me.

"So, this is what your 'important business' was?" Liang said with an annoyed expression. Kay, of course, said nothing.

I nodded my head and tried to look so innocent as possible. "Yes. It was a matter of life and death. You should be glad that I skipped today's study group, or I probably wouldn't be around next week to help you guys out."

Liang's annoyed expression quickly changed into that of confusion. "Huh? Why's that?"

"Because we have another Weapon Practice session tomorrow, and instructor Shar is the scariest woman that I've ever met. If I hadn't taken time today to practice, she might very well have fired an arrow at me. And believe me, there wouldn't have been much left of me if that happened."

A spark of interest flashed in Liang's eyes, and she leaned forward. "Could this have something to do with that Talent of yours?"

"Maybe. But I'm not telling you anything about it."

She frowned. "Fine. Be like that then. But you better not skip the next study group session! If you do, I'll send Alima after you." She grinned at me.

"Ehm, why Alima?"

"She kicked your ass over and over again last week, didn't she? It was a frightening sight. I bet you have nightmares about it every night, don't you?"

"..."

I glared at Liang.

"Aren't you a good archer?" Kay suddenly asked.

I turned to her with surprise. She wasn't the type to ask questions.

She continued. "If you have a specialized talent, you have a considerable advantage over those that don't. Why would Tanju Shar be angry with you?"

My face reddened as I tried to answer her question. "...I'm not that skilled with the bow. My Talent takes some time to get used to."

It was Kay's turn to look surprised. "You're both weak and bad with the bow. Is there another weapon that you're good at?"

I thought about answering with 'Yeah, I'm pretty good with a gun.' But that would probably only make them feel pity for me.

"No... The only weapon I've got any experience with is the bow." I said, instead.

"How did you get accepted into the academy?" Kay asked seriously.

"I guess I just got lucky." I had no idea how to explain it, so it was better just to be as vague as possible.

Liang entered the conversation again with a playful smile. "Could it be that you're actually from a super powerful family?"

"No. Definitely not." I shook my head. "My family's dead," I added.

Liang's eyes widened, and her smile disappeared. "Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"

"It's fine," I cut her off. "I've already come to terms with it. And when it comes to how I was accepted here, I really just was lucky. But I'm not planning to stay the weakest in the class for long, so you guys should be careful so that I don't pass you by."

I turned around and started walking back to the boys' dorms. "I'm tired, so I'm heading back. I'll see you guys tomorrow. Goodnight."

"Oh... Goodnight," I heard Liang mumble behind me as I walked away. Maybe I was too rough with her there?

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Mongoose

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