Change of Plans
Apparently, Tyson was a lot more exhausted than he’d initially let on earlier. The poor guy fell asleep the second he was comfortable in his bed.
Sharon and Mart had decided to return home along with the other parents, and he knew the incident had deeply upset Tyson, even if his roommate wouldn’t admit it at first. He’d been completely silent when he finally entered the room while Che was busy staring off into space. They both looked at each other for a moment before Tyson flopped down on his bed without a word.
It was why Che was certain Tyson hadn’t noticed he’d slipped out of their room and out of the dormitories, hastily making his way toward Legaros Tower.
Che had been staring at his Battle Skills textbook, remembering he’d planned on studying as soon as he got back to the room. Yet, as he sat and looked over his hastily-written notes, he found he could no longer concentrate. Yokan’s attack kept flashing in his mind, how he appeared from the sky and was able to scare everyone off single-handedly. With one move, he’d knocked everyone off their feet.
That was who he was up against.
Che thought about his own strength. He was currently at level 8, having only gained those levels through indirect means thanks to Tyson and Kim. If he wanted to stand a chance against Yokan, he’d have to get considerably stronger and find a way around Yokan’s type advantage.
Che heaved a heavy sigh as he stood up from his desk, quietly crossing the room to gaze out of the window. He could see Legaros Tower in the distance, the guards doing their usual rounds.
That was when he noticed a figure making its way toward the tower, slowly but surely. Che squinted and was able to make out Lorenzo, who seemed to be avoiding detection completely.
Che thought about how Lorenzo had been urging him to get ready for their eventual infiltration of the Marbot Research Facility, though he still didn’t understand Lorenzo’s reasons. He glanced over at Tyson, who was still out cold, before slipping on his shoes and heading out the door.
Once outside, he began following the path he’d watched Lorenzo take, heading toward Legaros Tower. He kept quiet, making sure to stay hidden in the shadows. Soon, he was only a few feet away from where he’d last seen Lorenzo when he was tackled from the side and knocked off his feet.
“What are you doing out here?” Che looked up to see Lorenzo, hovering over him with an intense glare. “You shouldn’t be following me.”
Che tried to sit up but was pushed back down by Lorenzo as the latter ducked to avoid being spotted by a passing guard. Once the coast was clear, Lorenzo peeked his head up before pulling Che up off the ground.
“Come on,” Lorenzo gestured for Che to follow him. “We’re not going to keep getting lucky like this.”
Che nodded before following Lorenzo as they continued to make their way toward Legaros Tower. Lorenzo weaved a path through the shadows, carefully ensuring both he and Che wouldn’t be seen or heard.
Soon, they found themselves huddled against the wall on the side of the tower. Lorenzo held his arm over Che so he wouldn’t move and seemed to be listening for something. After a few moments, he finally spoke up.
“There’s a secret console here that opens one of the emergency doors,” Lorenzo explained. “I think it’s reserved for personnel in case of a crisis. We’re going to use it.”
Che nodded before Lorenzo carefully ran his fingers along the wall behind them, searching for the hidden console. After a few moments, his fingers hit upon something, and he quickly input a code, which caused a hatch to open up in the side of the tower.
Che followed Lorenzo inside, careful not to make too much noise as they snuck their way through the corridors. Before long, they were standing in front of a familiar-looking door, which Che quickly noticed was the conference room they’d gone in before.
“Lorenzo, we got caught here bef-“
Lorenzo cupped Che’s mouth with his hand, silencing him before he could finish his sentence. “We don’t have time to talk. It’ll make sense in just a second. I have a theory.”
Che’s brow furrowed before he nodded, still unsure of what was going on. Lorenzo took his hand away and quickly opened the door, and the two slid inside before closing it behind them. The lobby was dimly lit, and the conference room they now stood in was almost completely dark save for the light flooding in the lobby.
Che watched as Lorenzo approached a large monitor on the wall, feeling around it until he found a switch. He flipped it, and the monitor lit up, revealing several rows of icons. Lorenzo used a remote attached to the wall to quickly navigate through them.
“I came here to find a file,” Lorenzo explained.
Che glanced over at him, unsure of what to think, while Lorenzo continued his search. He eventually clicked on a folder labeled “conference_room_005_logs.”
“This is it,” Lorenzo smirked before attempting to click it only to be prompted to enter a password. Without blinking, Lorenzo quickly inputted it, and the folder opened up revealing dozens of video files. Lorenzo quickly scanned through them before pausing on one in particular.
The file was only named with a date and time. There was no year attached to the date, but it read June 6th, the same date that was displayed on the monitor’s calendar. The time was 2 PM, which would have been about an hour after Yokan’s attack. Why was Lorenzo after a file from that exact time?
Che opened his mouth to ask, but Lorenzo shushed him. He clicked on the file, and it began to play. On the screen, Professor Avis could be seen taking a seat at the table. She leaned into it, sighing heavily, before patting her hair into place and dusting herself off.
“This is a message for Pauldron base,” she began, her voice low and shaky. “At the time of this recording, you’ve likely already heard about the attack that occurred here at the student assembly. An unidentified assailant descended upon the crowd from the sky. Headmaster Chapman called for the students and families to take shelter in the tower. The headmaster was then safely transported away by Professor Naul.”
Che’s eyes widened as he glanced over at Lorenzo, who didn’t seem the least bit surprised. Che quickly returned his attention back to the screen as Professor Avis continued her message.
“We believe the attack was meant to be an attempt on the headmaster’s life,” Professor Avis went on. “When the headmaster was brought to safety, the individual turned his attention to a group of students and two family members. The students fought against him until Professor Naul was able to transport them to safety as well.”
Che’s heart dropped at the mention of family members. His mind flashed to the memory of Tyson’s mother lying unconscious in the grass as her son desperately tried to wake her up.
Professor Avis continued, her voice growing stronger. “We do not have any information on the assailant at this time. He was able to not only bypass detection but knew the school’s layout and security measures. We believe he will attack again.”
“Lorenzo, what does this have to-” Che began, but Lorenzo cut him off.
“It’s not over yet,” Loreno’s eyes remained fixated on the video. Che watched as Professor Avis continued her message.
“I…regret to inform you that we’ve had many students withdraw from Legaros Academy following the incident, but that is not the main purpose of my report. At the time of sending you this recording, several students are missing and unaccounted for. I believe this was the true purpose of the attack, to scatter students away so that they would be disoriented and easy to capture.”
Che gasped, feeling a chill run down his spine. Lorenzo chuckled and shook his head.
“Just as I thought,” he sighed. “They’re hiding the number of students taken so they won’t cause a panic.”
“How did you figure it out?” Che asked.
“Let’s just say this academy isn’t safe and likely never has been,” Lorenzo replied before turning off the recording and closing the folder. He turned to face Che, who wasn’t sure how to respond.
Che then shook his head, not wanting to lose focus. “So, what do we do now?”
Lorenzo regarded Che for several seconds before sighing. “I’m really sorry to do this, but WE aren’t doing anything anymore, Rowan. From here on out, I’m taking this on myself.”
Che felt like he’d been hit by a truck. “What are you talking about? All this time you’ve been urging me to get ready to sneak into the restricted area, and now you want to do it alone?”
“Yes,” Lorenzo’s voice was resolute. “I told you before that we don’t have much time, and with each passing day, we lose more and more of it. I’ve watched you every day. You don’t train. You don’t get stronger unless it’s by luck. You’re not taking this seriously.”
Che was silent, taken aback by Lorenzo’s words. He couldn’t deny he was making every effort to avoid fights since he’d first arrived at Legaros Academy, but he couldn’t help feeling like he’d been betrayed.
Lorenzo’s expression softened as he crossed the room and placed his hand on Che’s shoulder. “Look, I know this is a lot to dump on you right now, and I really am sorry.”
“Who are you?” Che asked, his voice quiet. “Who are you really? Why can’t you just tell me why you’re doing all this?”
Lorenzo chuckled softly, the corner of his mouth perking up into a half-smile. “Doesn’t matter who I am tonight. Tomorrow it’ll be someone else until eventually I’m the bad guy. I told you to give it time, remember?”
Che nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving Lorenzo’s.
“Let’s get back before they find us,” Lorenzo said as he stepped away from Che and walked back to the door. He paused for a moment, his hand on the doorknob, and looked back at Che.
Che wanted to plead with Lorenzo to change his mind, to allow him a chance to train and prepare, but Che remained silent. Lorenzo, in typical melodramatic fashion, was still going on about how he was the bad guy as if there wasn’t a complete lunatic lurking around campus ready to strike on a whim.
As if this same guy hadn’t killed the person standing before Lorenzo out of some sick murder-suicide playbook. Che scoffed and shook his head. Of course, Lorenzo thought he knew what he was up against.
He had no idea just how bad people could be, but now wasn’t the time to tell him.