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“I am sorry I brought you into this without telling you.” I looked at RJ saw all of his confusion, his brows creasing once again. “I literally just got here, just like you have. I promise you though, I will never let you down.”

I waited for his response. “You don’t mean me any harm,” he said. “I can see and feel that.”

“I presume this room is protected?” I asked.

“Yes, the first test always is. Its the only way we get to see who you really are. And for that I’m very grateful that the system is as it is.”

“What will you do?”

He uncrossed his arms then. “What I am here for. You’ve come back for a reason. But you need to train again right?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“You want RJ with you. Hundred percent?”

I glanced to him, his emotions all over his face pink. “You picked us for a reason, you tell him what you saw different than any of the other trainers.”

I saw Anders swallow then and he looked to RJ. “I might be something of an enigma myself. I can see potential. And,” he glanced back to me. “I saw something special in the both of you. Something very special that everyone else would miss. Because they were fighting over other things.”

“I’m special?” RJ asked.

“You have no idea.” Anders said. “But I hope you get to realise so.”

RJ breathed out one huge breath. “So,” he looked at me. “I know of you, but not much else…”

“I know all the rumours,” Anders said. “But I’d really like to hear the truth behind why you left.”

“Is this really the best place?” I asked.

“We won’t get any other chance for you to talk to us without being listened in on. At least till you start to gain strength once more.”

“I can’t.” I said leaning back on the chair the back of it also digging in. “I really can’t, not yet.”

RJ looked disappointed and I couldn’t give him anything. “I just trusted you a stranger with something I only get one chance to do.”

“I know.” He was right. “This is more complicated than you can know for now, and any details I do tell you puts you more and more at risk. I don’t want that. Not yet. Trust me enough that I will tell you, both of you. When the time is right.”

Anders held RJ’s eyes with his. “You don’t know me either, only that I bought my way in here, and that I’m willing to go all out for both of you? Would you…” he lowered he eyes then, his shoulders sinking. Why was he suddenly so unsure? “Would you accept me as part of your team?”

I hadn’t expected that. Trainers were just that. They didn’t have the energy or the skills to be more. On the inside though, I liked the way he asked RJ for this. It showed he wanted to be trusted even more. But I thought deeply about what it would mean for me as well. “Wait.” I said.

“This isn’t your decision,” RJ said. “You’re not strong enough.”

I lowered my head, he wasn’t wrong. I watched as he held his hand out for Anders. Their exchange was much more controlled. I could only think it was Anders that helped here. It was amazing to see the energy within them both. And Anders wasn’t kidding, from the levels he was showing, he had great potential.

“You do realise we’re only one short now.”

“Four makes a team?” RJ asked. “I remember that much, mom was adamant that if you had more it made it really complicated.”

“It does,” I said. I knew first hand. My team was six strong. It was also one of the issues as to why it fell apart. My mind drifted to Sin and Chase. Had I done everything so wrong?

I tried not to dwell on it, but it was there. My thoughts were there. No matter what I had done, the Emperor was still dead.

With a few more taps on the screen, Anders let us both see his character sheet too.

I read down and smiled. “I might not have the ability at the moment. But you will both be given rights to be by my side officially.”

“That would be really something.” Anders said. “But you don’t know us.”

“I need to become what I was again. I need to reclaim my title.”

“That’s why you’re here?” Anders asked. “That’s going to be some heck of a fight.”

“I know,” I glanced down and looked to the weak body I now occupied. “Believe me, I know.”

“Well then,”Anders clapped his hands together. “Do you think you have some energy left to accept me?”

I shook my head, “No. I couldn’t do it. Not today. I’m sorry.”

He moved to stand. “Well. Seeing as you probably know a lot more than me, about basic training. I won’t need to run through some of it with you. But, I still want to test RJ, you good to watch?”

“It would be great for me to see you both in action. If you’ll accept tutelage from me?”

“You’re kidding right.” Anders eyes twitched. “To get instruction from you, would be amazing.”

I laughed. “You both have the floor then. I’ll rest.”

RJ’s hands shook as he stood. “I’ve never done anything like this.”

Anders walked out to the centre of the mat with RJ behind him.

“We’ll take it slow, don’t worry. I’m just going to show you some basic self defence moves. You’re Bright isn’t anywhere near strong enough to protect you yet. And they can’t challenge you with it until you are. So they’re going to get in close with anything they can and they’ll hit hard.”

It was good that he wasn’t pushing RJ physically. I didn’t think he would take it, and I was really glad they left me to digest my dinner, the drink and take some rest.

This was going to take me some time to build up. Time I didn’t really have. Cursed reset.

“Just come at me, any way you like,” Anders said.

RJ did just that, he went for an almost perfect attack. When Anders had to defend properly and take a step back I was impressed.

“Your mother been teaching you that as well?” Anders asked.

RJ panted fast. “The fat kid needs to learn how to handle himself early on. Not every bully got their fists in my face.”

I felt super proud of him for that and then the dancing on the floor changed tone. Anders decided to push him. Anders could have done with some extra training. His footwork was off. His left knee injured at some point?

I stayed sitting and observed as RJ was pushed hard. His clothes dripped with sweat. I tried to focus on his health, seeing what I could and for the first time I could. My strength would return at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

“Easy,” I said as they were about to go for another round. “RJ take this one out.” I stood and moved slowly to the mat. “I’m not fighting, I want to show you a few things.”

Anders backed down, and stood still as I approached. “You lean with your right leg. The left was injured, possibly you just never got it healed right. When you go for a defence strike you’re also a little off, so I’m saying you’ve also a shoulder injury?”

“How can I stop that?”

“If I can get my strength back I will fix it. But for now, think openly about how you’re presenting yourself. Learn to use the opposite side. So that someone else can’t see your weakness straight away.”

I watched as he swapped sides. “It feels awkward.”

“It will, you will get used to it.”

“Thank you,” he said. “Did you notice anything else?”

“That I’ve got a long way to catch RJ up. But if I can get some decent food and energy, weight on me this week. I can start to train next week, maybe?”

He looked me up and down. “I’ll see about taking you into the medical suite. They won’t see anything on your full stats, but they can at least see what you’re lacking if it will help, I can sort that.”

“I think it will, the nutrients are good, but prob not specific. This body was starving, it did die. Without my transference, you wouldn’t have me here.”

I stood before him still feeling wobbly, but inside was something else brewing. As hard as I thought my task was, as hard as it really might get. RJ came and stood next to us. “Thank you for not pushing me.” I said. “On all counts.” The two young men that stood with me now meant much more than I had hoped for. I realised then how much I had missed having someone who knew who I was, where I’d come from. I loved Ella and Louise with all my heart but the feel of the Bright in my veins, the thought of taking back what was mine. It thrilled me.

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AlexKnowles

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