“I am glad you stayed, Soory,” I said to the mouse as I went back to his friend’s side. “Ormidillio was right, you really are one of the smart ones.”
He didn’t say anything back, apparently less happy with the praise this time. All his excitement and energy were gone. He just looked at me with lowered ears.
“I saw you and your other friend threaten Sarn earlier today. I suppose Ormidillio here, was the one who had sent both of you to spy on me. Am I wrong?”
He frantically nodded and I had to repress Ikun Omi’s sudden suggestion to simply kill them both. I had judged her former lack of interest in Ormidillio’s insults as a good indicator of his weakness, but it slightly annoyed me that this was her first attempt at communication since we last spoke.
“Good… good. Now, I want you to watch and see what’s going to happen,” I said to the mouse as I made sure my gloves were correctly adjusted. Wearing them really had been a wise decision, I couldn’t feel any lingering pain from my punches. “…And then understand that it’s going to be worse for anyone who hurts one of the forsaken children again. Feel free to spread the message afterward.”
He gulped and I dismissed him from my attention before kicking his comrade just hard enough to wake him up.
It was time to resume the experiment and I couldn’t ask for a more deserving guinea pig.
I now knew that I could easily take care of a beastkin with lower stats. But what about someone stronger?
Not as strong as Ardos, of course… But I wouldn’t be able to knock out someone with higher attributes in a similar manner.
I would have to test the other options sooner or later and now felt like a good time.
Ormidillio came to with a start, breathing heavily and looking around with panic.
“Wh-, what the-!”
“Shh, shh… You’re okay,” I whispered as I crouched next to him. “You just lost consciousness for a few minutes.”
“I… what?” he muttered with confusion, his voice still weak. “How?”
“I knocked you out.”
That seemed to be enough to entirely wake him up.
“You?” he growled. “Human trash like you could never-”
“I understand your confusion,” I said. “But your obsession with people you call trash is strange, to say the least. It makes me think that it has something to do with how you see yourself.”
“What the… what the hell are you talking about!”
“Ormi-,” Soory started. “Dude you should really-” But I cut him off before he could place another word.
“The other kids clearly treat you in a different way than anyone else, and I have heard you being called a ‘rat’ a few times already,” I said. “It makes me think that you recently came to the temple. Just a little time before I did.”
He managed to get back to his feet and I stood as well.
“It makes me think that you came from Bunker,” I continued. “You probably were one of those black nosed kids who live under the mountain, weren’t you?”
He screamed, unsurprisingly, as he showed me for the first time what I assumed to be one of his skills. His overall muscle mass increased almost twofold, making his eyes seem even smaller at the center of his bloated face.
This is great, but now people are probably on their way here.
“It’s not very fitting to call someone trash when everybody knows that’s all you’ve been all these years… And instead of being grateful to the temple for saving your ass, you decide to repay Royin by tormenting the forsaken kids. Just to make yourself feel better about not having rocks anymore.”
Clad in his aura, he moved surprisingly fast, way faster than I had predicted. But he was still much slower than me.
Against someone his size who was simply immune to impacts, many of the martial arts were useless. But of those that were perfect for Close Quarters Combat situations, one that focused mainly on using the opponent’s momentum with minimal force came to mind.
I wasn’t an expert of BJJ in itself, but many elements of the CQC system I had been trained in had been borrowed from it, among other fighting styles.
I dodged Ormidillio’s oversized fist as it tore the air and grabbed his wrist, using my strength to secure my hold since I couldn’t grab his clothes. In the same breath, I spun around, placed my opposite shoulder under his arm and pulled.
His entire body flipped over mine in a gracious arc and landed on the ground with a crash.
Still holding his arm and not giving him any time to regain his senses, I secured it between my legs and phased into a simple armbar joint lock. A simple submission move that put his limb at my mercy.
All of that to further test my theory.
I knew that aura protected the body from direct damages caused by external impacts. I also knew that aura didn’t dissipate energy and that damage could still happen inside the aura “armor”.
That meant that things like extreme vibrations and shocks could still hurt or kill a beastkin solely from the internal damage caused by the whiplashes their body would go through.
In theory. I had no idea how aura could evolve with a lot of ether, after all. I remembered Maboru covering her sword with aura, something I had never seen anyone do.
Buy in any case, the last thing I was curious about was simple.
If aura didn’t protect against the effects of unnatural movement by body parts, would it be wrong to assume that I could break limbs at the joints?
After all, it wouldn’t really be the impact breaking them, but the extensive twisting that would occur in the joint itself.
The ability to break limbs and use certain choke holds to cut off the oxygen path to the brain would add an invaluable variety to my arsenal against strong threats I couldn’t afford to kill.
Well, it made sense to me but what mattered was whether it fit the logic of this world or not. And if Ormidillio’s screams where any indication, today was my lucky day.
“Stop- stop struggling,” I said. “Any more pressure on your arm and it will snap at the elbow.”
“Ormid, for fuck’s sake listen to him!” the mouse yelled.
His beaver friend somewhat calmed down, but I could see him grit his teeth as he tried to get in a position that, he believed, would allow him to lift me up.
“You better savor this moment, human,” he said through his teeth. “Because you’re never going to be able to use your fancy tricks when I’m done with- ARGH, YOU BASTARD!”
“Making threats in your position is incredibly stupid,” I said as I released the pressure again. “Well, I am guessing you could get your arm healed by the temple but that’s assuming you don’t get thrown out as soon as they hear Tamie’s story. I really doubt you want to go back to your rat friends in Bunker with only one working arm.”
“Dude, you don’t understand that he wants you to give him a reason to-”
“Soory, why don’t you SHUT the FUCK UP and come help me instead of yapping from over there?!”
Though his feet were bouncing and his hands quickly alternated between rubbing the back of his neck or clutching one another, the short kid didn’t budge from his spot by the door.
“Don’t be mad at him, he means well,” I said. “I really do want you to be dumb enough to ignore what I’m saying so that I can break your arm. That way you won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore and the other dumbasses will also learn to keep their violence to themselves.”
“Why? Because I scared that bitch a little?” he managed to chuckle. “Of all the girls in this shit hole, you’re going to break my arm because I hurt the cripple’s feelings? The arm of a warrior? You don’t even have the guts!”
“No,” I said. “I’m going to break your arm because I know for a fact that you will be dumb enough to try something instead of patiently waiting until someone comes up for us.”
“And what if no one comes? We’re going to stay like this forever?”
“Well, if you stay calm long enough I will have to assume that you learned your lesson and let you go.”
“… And I would take that opportunity to break your head open, like any real warrior would.”
“You mean, like any shameless rat would.”
He roared and tried to overpower me, so I simply twisted and pulled.
There was a resounding crack accompanying the ripping and tearing of the ligaments. Blood and bone burst from the inner side of his arm, and Ormidillio’s roar became a shriek similar to that of a pig being slaughtered.
But it didn’t last long. He soon passed out from experiencing some of the most intense pain a person could naturally be subjected to.
I stood up and wiped my hands on parts of my clothes that weren’t already stained by the lukewarm red liquid.
People should come quick. Don’t want him bleeding to death.
Though my worries were obviously for my own interest, they did carry some irony. After all, if no magic was involved in his treatment, I couldn’t imagine the kid regaining usage of his arm.
I noted that, while his aura was gone, his body had remained bigger than normal, still under the effects of the strange skill he had used.
I guess this clear things up. The potential for humans to defend themselves is there…
There probably were classes focusing on grappling and throws, with skills that would make the learning phase easier. The real issue would be that only people born with, at the very least, both the Speed and Agility attributes would have a real shot at contending against aura boosted beastkins.
But at least that’s an injustice everybody has to deal with in this world.
I supposed the power armors that were tied to my Dreadnova class were supposed to make up for those natural deficiencies.
One of those would be very handy right now, but I doubt Tamie has even ever dreamed of the concept.
I glanced up at the little mouse who had seen everything that had happened to his friend.
He was leaning against the wall, tears silently streaming down his face. There was a dark stain that went down his pants leg and a small pool of liquid at his feet.
Good. That means he won’t forget the message any time soon.
I supposed it would have been easy for a different person to feel compassion for this terrified child, but I knew better. He might not have done anything wrong at that point in time, but that was only because he hadn’t gotten the opportunity. I had seen the look in his eyes before.
Who gets to decide you are right? I heard a voice in my head ask.
I do. I didn’t break his arm because I didn’t like him. I broke it because he ignored my warnings and attacked me.
Which you knew he would, the voice replied. Which you made sure he would. Justifying your selfish actions with legitimate defense… How morally perverse.
Was it, really?
Breaking Ormidillio’s arm might have been the best thing to happen to him. When he would wake up, he would find himself powerless. He could then decide to change.
But in any case, people around him would be a bit safer for a bit longer, and I had acquired new weapons I desperately needed to defend myself.
It was hard to think that I had made any wrong choice.
Thinking I might have to call for help myself, I turned toward the door and paused.
I was facing a crowd of kids of all ages and a few members of the staff, staring at me with wide eyes. Those in the front row had recoiled from my sudden movement in their direction, reveling Tamie.
She had probably never gone down the stairs and had been watching the whole time. Her face was even paler than usual.
I looked at myself. Shockingly, my clothes were perfectly clean. As if nothing had happened.
But my arms were still dripping with blood.