Septifiria; The Becoming: Chapter 18

Septi entered the Rec Room, feeling half dead, not noticing the Saha family huddled around the foosball table. She collapsed into a chair and rubbed her face, wondering if she’d ever be alright again. When a shadow fell over her, she looked up.
Gin Saha was standing in front of her, looking slightly embaressed. Septi motioned to the chair across from hers and spoke.
“I wanted to thank you,” Gin said, motioning to his siblings. “They like it here.”
“What about you?” Septi asked.
“It’s nice enough,” he said, looking awkward. “Er, one of the girls- Val I think? said that I would be trained if we stayed. What’s that mean?”
“You’ll learn how to fight, how to control your power, and build up your endurance and stamina,” Septi explained, her heart not really in the conversation.
“I can fight,” he muttered under his breath.
“I knocked you out pretty quickly,” Septi said raising an eyebrow. “You may be strong, but you need to be able to connect with your target at least 99% of the time.” Gin blushed, and Septi let her voice fade off.
“So you’re commander,” he said. “Is it because of your fighting skills?” Septi laughed lightly.
“Not hardly,” she said. “Both Ferinequell and Val are better than I am, usually.”
“You’re young, to be in charge of the VI4C, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I’m only a few years younger than you,” she said, sounding bored but on the defensive.
“How old are you, anyways?” he asked, slightly surprised.
“You’re not s’posed to ask a woman how old she is,” Septi admonished him. “But I’m eighteen. And you’re twenty.”
“How did you know that?” he asked, shocked.
“I didn’t read your mind, if that’s what you’re thinking,” she said coolly. “I’m a shapeshifter, not a telepath.”
“How, then?” he asked, looking cornered.
“Well, now,” Septi said coyly. “That’s for me to know, and you to find out.”
“Fine then! I will,” he retorted angrilly.
“Fine,” Septi said icilly. Then she smiled. “Slept well, I take it.”
“Not much,” he said, shifting anxiously.
“I see,” Septi said, studying him. “Ferinequell told me that you nearly injured him when he woke you this morning.”
“Sorry about that,” Gin said. “Waking up in a strange place to a strange person-”
“Am I stragne person?” Septi wondered absent mindedly, her fingers tracing the seams on the upholstery.
“I don’t know!” Gin exploded. Kin and Kane looked over, startled, and Septi focused on their brother.
“Temper,” she said warningly. “You’ll need to control it if you are going to stay here. I will not permit you to destroy things because you can’t keep your cool.” Gin ground his teeth audibly, his jaw muscles working furiously.
“What’s wrong, Gin?” Kin asked, drifting over and standing behind her oldest brother’s chair.
“Nothing,” he said calming down enough to stop grinding his teeth. “Don’t worry about me.”
“It didn’t sound like nothing,” Kin muttered, reluctant to leave Gin.
“Go,” he insisted. She did, but she didn’t look happy about it. “How do you know so much about us?” he asked Septi.
“I have my sources,” Septi said, standing up and staring at him. “Has anyone given you guys the tour?”
“No,” he said, looking up, shocked by her sudden change in mood.
“Get your siblings,” Septi said abruptly. “I’ll only give you the tour once.”
“Um, right,” he said, standing and looking slightly flustered. “Kin, Kane!” he called, not taking his eyes off of Septi. They looked up from their game and came to stand by Gin.
“What?” Kin asked, slightly irritated. “You tell me to go away and then you want me.”
“Kin,” Gin hissed warningly. “She’s going to give us a tour.”
“Oh,” Kin said unrepentantly. “Right.”
“She has a name,” Septi said sharply. “I told you last night that my name is Septi.”
“Sorry,” he muttered, giving her a dirty look. “Septi, he added grudgingly as an afterthought.
“It’s alright,” she said with a forced smile. “Come this way. We’ll start in the basement and work our way up.” She walked quickly, not looking around to see if they were following her. Slipping down three flights of stairs lithely and silently she listened to Gin explaining what she was doing. As she let them into the basement, the Saha family fell silent.
“This is the laundry room,” she said, motioning to the front loader washer and drier. “We switch off who does what on the chores chart- with the exception of undergarments. You do your own always, along with towels or sheets. We try to find full loads for everyone to do their own for those. This week Raram has laundry, and I have folding and distribution. Through here is the boiler of furnace room. The rest of the basement is storage. There’s a second, steeper staircase up to the kitchen that used to be a servant’s stairway.” Shep aused for a breath, then tugged the door to the storage room open and turned on the light. “No one minds spiders and cobwebs, right?”
“Er, not a problem,” Kin said, following Septi.
“Shut the door behind you,” Septi called to Kane, who was the last one in the line. She paused at the bottom of the stairs. “Whoever’s the last one up the stairs needs to shut off the lights.” With that she was off again. ‘What’re you doing, Septi?’ she wondered suddenly, aware that the depression was still there, but she wasn’t focusing on it. ‘It’s not working, this stupid distraction.’
The Sahas filed into the kitchen, and she mentally shook herself. ‘Just focus on the task at hand.’
“You’ve obviously been here,” she said, smiling, but knowing that it was so plastic, so fake. “For breakfast.”
“Yeah,” Kane said, earning startled looks from his siblings. Septi turned and led them across the hall, to the library.
“Library, open to anyone who wants to read,” she said moving quickly through the ground floor. “Family room or living room. Whatever you want to call it. Across the hall is the dining room. Mud room is through that door there, and there’s a garage off of that.” She hurried up the stairs. “This is where all of the teens stay. Boys on the other side, girls on this side.”
“Oh?” Gin asked her curiously.
“We have rules in regards to curfew and boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. We couldn’t afford to have teens misbehaving, and still can’t,” Septi explained. “Originally, we had a school on a seperate location. The teens would live there, and on their 18th birthday, those who hadn’t joined the VI4C on their own would be offered the chance to join the VI4C. When they graduated they’d move in, and there was a men’s floor and a women’s floor. When Steppe closed the school last year, every mutant that could not go home or survive on their own joined the VI4C. This is the sleeping arrrangement he designed. I haven’t had the time to rearrange it, though I really should.”
“I see,” Gin said, looking surprised. “Who’s Steppe?”
“The former comander of the VI4C,” Septi said, tensing at how casually he asked about Steppe. “I killed him.”
“Oh,” he said, watching her reaction. “So he was-”
“A tyrant,” Septi snapped, pushing open the bathroom door. “And that’s all you need to know about him.” Gin took a step back, looking like a reprimanded puppy.
“So you were saying,” Kin prodded, trying to ease the mood. Septi shot her a startled look, then stepped out of the way of the door.
“This is one of the two bathrooms on this floor. I think I can show you one of the empty rooms, if I have my keys on me,” Septi said, digging through her pockets. “Ah, here…”
“Pulling a small ring of keys out of her jeans pocket, she unlocked the bedroom door. She swung the door open and stepped into the room. Looking around, she could see that no one had been in the room for a while, judging by the dust that coated the furniture and sheets that covered the mattress. Turning to see the Sahas gathered in the doorway, she tried to smile at them.
“This is what the rooms look like. But then you’d know that, having stayed in similar rooms last night. Residents can add their own personal decorations and touches, but this is the standard,” she explained. “Boys rooms and girls rooms have two different kinds of masterlocks, for obvious reasons.”
“Nice,” Kin said, apparently ignoring Septi to admire the scorch marks on the ceiling. Septi glanced up and grimaced.
“Some of our residents have left permenant marks that, try as we might, can’t be removed when they are no longer with us,” she explained.
“It’s cool!” Kin insisted. Septi smiled slightly and slipped out the door.
“You coming?” she asked. Despite her bad mood, she had to admit that she liked this family as that- a family. She wasn’t too sure about the individual members.
“Sure,” Gin said, following her. She swiftly took them up the back stairway, feeling better about everything.
“This floor is mostly offices, but you’ve been to the Rec room, which is also on this floor. There’s also a weapons room, here,” she said, letting them into the room. As Gin stepped in, he gasped.
“Holy cow! There’s a lot of-”
“We have almost every kind of practical weapon, both flats for practice and real ones for assignments,” Septi said. “This room used to be a forge, also, for one of our metal mutants, but she died last summer.”
“This is amazing,” Gin said, walking through the racks of blades and shelves of guns. “Swords!” Septi flinched slightly.
“Want to try one?” she asked sweetly, making a split second desicion.
“Could I?” he asked eagerly. Septi carefully hefted the heaviest blade from the rack and handed it to him, not letting him see the strain she had in keeping it level. The shock on his face as he took it, then the strain in his muscles told Septi that she was right- he wasn’t as storng as he thought.
“Rather heavy, isn’t it?” she asked, holding out her hands for it back. Replacing it on the rack, she moved to a slightly lighter sword. “This better?”
“Yes,” he said, weilding it and looking like a kid in a candy store. Septi took her own practice blades from the rack.
“Personally, I’ve never cared for swords. Too long, and a bit of a nuscience,” she said, idly flipping the daggers over the backs of her hands like she did when she was bored. “Daggers you can conceal so well that no one sees them coming. Weighted just right for throwing and combat.” Gin raised an eyebrow, and Septi smiled at him like the cheshire cat.
“So you’re familiar with all of these weapons?” he asked, gesturing to the gun cupboard.
“Most of these,” she said, returning the daggers to their spots. “I’m not good with the sword, because I felt it a waste of time. I chose not to learn how to use those weapons-” she motioned to a rack of medieval looking spiked weapons. “-and I’m not familiar with those.” She glanced at the rack of Asian weapons.
“Wow,” he said, staring at Septi in shock.
“Okay, time to move on,” Septi said, moving to the door. Something about Gin deffinately set her teeth on edge, but she wasn’t sure what. ‘I can take him down,’ she thought.
“Where to next?” Kin asked as Septi shut off the lights and closed the door.
“Well, then next floor up is where the adult members sleep, but it’s set up exactly like the teen floor. The floor above thatis our training room. Would you like to see it?” Septi asked, moving to the staircase.
“Yes,” Gin said moving closer to her. Septi vaulted up the stairs, the Sahas still trailing behind her. “So, what is your power?”
“I told you already,” Septi said, not looking back. “I actually have two. Shapeshifting and dream changing. Both are so useless and limited.”
“Doesn’t sound like that’s weak,” Gin said, eyeing her.
“I can changed my appearance and give people bad dreams. Yeah, that’s useful in a fight,” Septi said sarcastically. “At least with water you can use it as an extension of yourself, a weapon and a sheild.
“That’s always assuming I have water,” Gin said drily.
“Right,” Septi said, stepping into the training center. “This is our version of the danger room, from the X-Men. The control room over there has equipment that lets us design courses, or time the user. In addition to training, we have duels here, or games like soccer, feild hockey, dodgeball, and so on. In this closet here-” Septi tugged the door open “-we have our normal exercise equipment.” Gin looked into the closet, and then stared at Septi in shock.
“Is everyone here physically fit?” he asked, stunned. Septi laughed.
“Almost everyone is,” Septi answered. “Ferinequell is losing his peak, though.” Gin gulped nervously, and Septi couldn’t resist a jab. “Scare you?”
“No, not at all,” Gin lied, his eyes darting around the room. Septi smirked and sauntered over to the control room. She quickly turned on the system, typing in a command. Immediately the training room set up a collection of various physical tests. Gin, who had followed her into the control room, swallowed.
“Get to it,” Septi said, turning to face him.
“You want me to do that?” Gin asked, appalled. Septi smiled mockingly.
“You think you can’t do that?” she challenged, crossing her arms.
“No, but-”
“Get to it,” she repeated, sitting down on the chair by the monitor. Gin gave her a dirty look, then left the control room. Septi set the timer, and waited for him to begin. Kin and Kane watched the screens over her shoulder, watching as their brother went through the course at a painfully slow rate.
“Normally I approve of torturing my brother, but why are you doing this?” Kin asked.
“He’d have to go through this test sooner or later,” Septi said, taking notes on the things he had the most trouble with. “I figured that since we were here, he might as well show me what he’s good at, and still has to work on.”
“I see,” Kin said thoughtfully.
“Will we go through it?” Kane asked, starteling Septi, who had forgotten that he was there.
“Yeah, at some point. Would you like to go through it today?” Septi asked as Gin entered the last part of the course.
“Sure,” Kin and Kane said together. Septi nodded.
“When I give your brother his results you can begin,” Septi said, stopping the timer as Gin finished the course, sweaty and panting.
“How’d I do?” he asked, wiping some of the sweat from his face. Septi tossed him a had towel, then motioned to the moniter.
“You’re fairly strong, considering that you have absolutely no training,” Septi said, feeling like she had to be nice to this pitiful guy. “Your time falls in the low end of our average times, but your coordination could use some serious help.”
“Gee, thanks,” he said sarcastically. Septi imperiously raised an eyebrow.
“Don’t say that like I altered your time. This is your score, in comparison with our scores,” Septi said. “By the way, did you used to swim often?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Haven’t been able to since the CAMMies invaded, though.”
“Excuse me,” Kin said anxiously. “Let’s get this show on the road here!” Septi looked at her, distracted, then smiled. Deftly she saved Gni’s scores, then reset the timer.
“Who’s going first?” she asked without looking up.
“I am!” Kin exclaimed enthusiastically, rushing out of the control room.
“And go!” Septi exclaimed, enjoying herself for the first time that day.


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